Iodine is an essential trace nutrient that is crucial for growth. About 60 percent of iodine in the body is stored in the thyroid gland, which is responsible for controlling the metabolic rate in the body. The metabolic rate affects the efficiency of many of the body’s organ systems, including the absorption of food, sleep cycles and the transformation of food into usable energy.
Iodine also affects energy levels, as it helps ensure the efficient utilization of calories, without allowing them to be deposited as fat. Iodine also helps keep hair, skin and nails healthy. A diet lacking iodine can lead to hair loss. It also plays a role in the reproductive system. Iodine is necessary for pregnant women to prevent stillbirths or neurocognitive conditions.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency include frustration, depression, mental retardation, poor perception levels, goiter, abnormal weight gain, decreased fertility, coarse skin, constipation and fatigue.
The body needs 100 to 200 mcg of iodine per day. Iodized salt contains about 95 mcg of iodine, so that can offer a good source of the nutrient. Other sources include marine plants and animals, such as shellfish and brown sea kelp, lima beans, summer squash, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens and spinach.