By: Kennedy Shelley
A pregnant mother getting enough iodine may be worth 15 IQ points.
Yes, putting iodine in salt probably made America smarter.
It’s amazing just how important this trace element is to our bodies, but it is vital to a developing brain.
When we think of iodine problems, we usually think about the thyroid gland which is where we think iodine is supposed to be.
That’s not true, it’s in nearly every cell in your body, if we could take it out you would be dead because it is that vital to how your various systems work together.
Back during WWI, politicians got concerned that people in the Midwest were not eligible for military service because of thyroid growths called goiters which is a result of low amounts of iodine.
They noticed this problem in the Midwest and theorized that people near the coasts were getting iodine in the air and soil. The iodine in the ocean was making its way into the soil where people were growing crops and raising animals which then got into people’s diets.
But those in the Midwest who were growing their own crops were not getting this natural source.
So, the Morton salt company started adding it to table salt, and the problem was solved.
The interesting result was smarter kids.
In 2013, scientists looked at the impact of iodized salt (which began in 1923 in the United States) and looked at the rest of the world. They found that the lack of iodine in the rest of the world was the largest contributor to mental retardation in places where it isn’t available.
Their study showed that iodine deficiency cost a kid 15 IQ points. While IQ isn’t everything, it does start to add up at some point. This moves a kid from average to genius or also to mentally retarded.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost 50 million kids suffer from low IQ’s because their moms did not have enough iodine.
Thankfully it doesn’t take much iodine to prevent this, though some are worried that the government’s war on salt might make this a problem again.
(To learn more about why the government’s war on salt is misguided, see this article from Freedom Health News.)
So how much do you need?
That is a tough question. The Japanese who eat an iodine-rich diet with seaweed and fish average 1-2 milligrams a day, while our government RDI is only 150 micrograms.
That is a huge difference.
Is too much iodine a problem? The American Thyroid Association says:
“Taking too much iodine can also cause problems. This is especially true in individuals that already have thyroid problems, such as nodules, hyperthyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease. Administration of large amounts of iodine through medications (i.e.: Amiodarone), radiology procedures (iodinated intravenous dye) and dietary excess (Dulce, kelp) can cause or worsen hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.”
Sea salt and iodized salt both have iodine in it, so if you are using it on a daily basis you are probably getting enough.
Eating one or two meals with wild caught saltwater fish will probably also give you enough.
If you realize you are not getting any source of iodine and you live in a landlocked state, you might want to think about using an iodine supplement especially if you are pregnant or thinking about having kids.
Iodine could have a very profound effect on your child’s future.