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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 5, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Iodine from Kelp

What is Kelp?

Kelp is a type of seaweed. It can be found along rocky coastlines in cool water. Kelp is loaded with many vitamins, minerals such as phosphorous, potassium and calcium. The most valued link is that between kelp and iodine. The trace element, Iodine, is abundant in kelp. Iodine is essential for adequate thyroid function.

Kelp can be found in shallow salt water. It grows rapidly and requires full sun. It attaches itself to rocks and can grow safely without the threat of being uprooted by storms of rough waters. It is also valuable in its ability to feed fish and provide shelter for them, sea mammals and invertebrates.

What is Iodine?

Iodine is an element that is found in seawater and in minerals in the earth. Although beneficial in recommended amounts, it is toxic if taken in large amounts. There are many applications for the use of iodine within the medical field. It is a vital trace element that is essential for proper nutrition.

As a solid, iodine is purple to black in color and can be toxic. The pure form is poisonous and corrosive and needs to be handled carefully.

Iodine solution is beneficial as an antiseptic or germicide. It is also used to produce purple dye. The radioactive isotopes are used in diagnosing specific illnesses. Radioactive iodine is used in the treatment of thyroid cancer or as a substance used to trace the effectiveness of the thyroid gland.

Benefits of Iodine

The benefits of iodine cannot be understated. It is essential for proper function of the thyroid gland and its production of triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These particular hormones regulate the metabolism, support bone growth and provide the human body with energy. Often, people with underactive thyroid glands take a kelp supplement to improve its function.

Supplementing with iodine may ensure that the proper levels of vital nutrients are in the diet. Kelp can be taken via powder, tablets and capsules, extract, raw and dried kelp. People should use caution not to exceed the recommended daily allowance. Toxicity caused by iodine can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

Iodine Deficiency

A severe lack of iodine can result in cretinism. This is a syndrome wherein the lack of iodine is responsible for deformities of the skull and other bones in the body. It can result in severe developmental delays and dwarfism. The use of iodized salt does decrease the incidence of these deficiencies and consequent issues. Iodized salt was introduced to combat goiters and the occurrence of developmental delays that result from a lack of iodine.

Availability of Iodine

Humans need approximately 140micrograms of iodine daily. It is consumed through the ingestion of fish, vegetables from the sea and other foods that originate in the sea. Many countries include iodine in salt to ensure proper levels of dietary iodine.
In its pure form iodine is toxic. It should not be handled or ingested with bare hands. It needs to be handled in areas that are well ventilated. Solutions used as a disinfectant in surgical patients are safe to be handled but care needs to be taken not to ingest these solutions.

Read also: Angelica Root

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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