Pros and cons of taking iodine supplements

In the developing world, iodine deficiency is a major health problem. However, in the United States and the remaining industrialised world, iodine deficiency is rare, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In the United States, iodine is added as a supplement to common table salt, which provides a major source of iodine in the American diet. Still, some people take iodine supplements, which have both advantages and disadvantages.

Regulates Metabolic Rate

Iodine is essential in the regulation of metabolic rate. The body does not produce iodine, so it must be obtained from food, or from a supplement, according to the American Thyroid Association. When someone is deficient in iodine, taking iodine supplements can correct hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid.

Regulates Estrogen in Breast Tissue

Iodine supplements may also have life-saving benefits for women who are deficient in iodine. The Natural Health Information Centre claims that iodine can protect the breast tissue against the cancer-related effects of oestrogen. Iodine can also provide some protection against radiation, which can be a concern with mature women who schedule regular mammograms.

Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidsm

Excess iodine can have serious health effects. Individuals who are not deficient in iodine but who take large amounts of iodine supplements may develop hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism is also a possible side effect for people who had previously suffered from underactive thyroid but who had regained healthy thyroid function, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Libraries.

Ineffectiveness and Toxicity

The National Institutes of Health states that iodine supplements are not necessarily the most effective treatment for goitre (abnormal swelling of the thyroid glands in the neck), which is related to iodine deficiency. The American Thyroid Association warns that people who take iodine but who don't need it may develop autoimmune thyroid disease. The National Health Information Centre claims that at very high doses, iodine can be toxic to humans.