Iodine is needed for your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone, a key regulator of your body’s metabolism and needed for proper growth and brain development. The thyroid gland is a small yet powerful gland that sits just above the Adam’s apple. I think of it a bit like the thermostat of the body. The production of thyroid hormone is tightly regulated by a feedback loop, so dietary intake impacts the thyroid over time.

Iodine is most abundant in the sea and the amount in soil, and therefore plants, varies greatly from region to region. Low iodine intake leads to the formation of a goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This condition was very common prior to adding iodine to salt. Levels of iodine are dropping in America, likely as people avoid salt. One of the perks of iodine in The Farmacy is that many sources come with other nutrients, like selenium, needed for proper thyroid function.

Some foods–like soy–contain goitergens, molecules that interfere with thyroid function. The thyroid is also sensitive to new compounds like PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) flame retardants and brominated vegetable oils that interfere with the uptake of iodine by the gland.

Along with a goiter, an underactive thyroid leads to low energy, poor memory, depression, weight gain, infertility, and heart disease, whereas an overactive thyroid leads to severe anxiety and weight loss.

Iodine deficiency is recognized as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.

Top Farmacy Sources: Seaweed, Cod, Wild Shrimp, Potatoes, Milk, Yogurt

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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    1. I believe the issue is dose. Most people should be plenty of iodine in their diet naturally by eating some seafood or a little seaweed. Kelp is a fine source, but some seaweeds have very high concentrations of iodine and some research links high iodine intake with thyroid cancer. Best sources are seafood like scallops as well as dairy.

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