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essential nutrientsThere are many nutrients that your body needs to function at an optimal level. Many of these nutrients get a lot of attention - everyone has heard about vitamin C! But we rarely talk about some other nutrients even though they are vital to your health. 

Three of the lesser-known nutrients are Iodine, Choline, and Selenium. Let’s take a look at these nutrients and the important role they play in your health.

Iodine

Iodine is crucial for many systems in your body. It significantly impacts the body’s hormonal systems such as the thyroid and adrenal glands. Iodine is important in balancing the forms of estrogen in a woman's body. It is especially important for women while they are pregnant or breasfeeding. Nearly every tissue in the body needs this nutrient including the breast, prostate, ovaries, brain, stomach, and pancreas. It is an antioxidant, an antiviral, and can help reduce the toxic metal burden from your system.  

It is thought that over 70% of the population does not get an adequate amount of iodine. More research is needed to explore how much iodine is needed for optimal health. Since the current recommended daily allowance was only designed to prevent goiters, the dose needed for optimal health is much higher (probably between 5-15mg).

Iodine is a fairly rare mineral and can be difficult to find in a good food source. Adequate amounts are not found in land-based food. In addition, there are many things that compete with iodine for absorption in the body. Things such as fluorine, bromine, and chlorine are considered antagonists that keep us from absorbing this vital nutrient. For this reason, it may be important to consider a good quality supplement.

 

Action steps:

1. Increase the amount of iodine in your diet 

- Kelp, seaweed, and fish are some of the best sources of iodine. However, it is important to be cautious with the amount and type of fish you eat due to concerns with mercury. (Even if you eat a lot of these foods, it is unlikely that you will get enough iodine through diet alone.)

- Unrefined sea salt is a great source of minerals and contains some iodine. 

2. Avoid antagonists to allow your body to absorb the iodine in your diet.

- Bromine is a toxic chemical that is used in baking but interferes with iodine absorption. 

- Chlorine is another toxic element that interferes with the body’s ability to use iodine. Swimmers must be aware that chlorine can be absorbed through their skin, but there are some things that you can do to protect yourself from chlorine.) 

- Fluoride in our water also prevents our body from utilizing iodine.

- Soy contains copper, which interferes with iodine absorption.

- Stress may also deplete iodine in your body.

3. Consider supplementation

- Chemical forms of iodine are toxic and can build up in the liver. Kelp based supplements are a more natural, safe choice. 

*Vegetarians and vegans must be especially careful as they are prone to iodine deficiencies.

Choline

Choline is a vitamin B group nutrient necessary for the health of every cell in your body. It is specifically necessary for the repair and maintenance of the cell membrane. This membrane is foundational for the health of your cells. When the membrane is compromised it allows good things from the cell to leave, while allowing bad material into the cell.

It is known to promote strong immune systems, support a healthy nervous system, increase organ function, as well as support cognitive functions such as long term memory and focused attention. Choline plays an important part in the production of elastin, collagen, and the proteins that help the skin looking taut. The skin also benefits from its antioxidant properties, which protect from free radical damage. 

It is thought that only 10% of people get enough choline. Without enough choline, the very basic structures of your cells may be compromised, which can also impact the distribution of nutrients throughout your body, your metabolism, and may contribute to fatty liver disease.

Choline is an especially important nutrient for pregnant women. It is critical for the development of the growing baby brain and spinal canal. Adequate amounts of this vital nutrient can decrease the risk of congenital disabilities. 

Action steps:

1. Increase the amount of choline in your diet 

- Pastured eggs, beef or chicken liver, salmon, grass-fed raw dairy, cruciferous vegetables, soaked nuts, and seeds are some of the best sources of choline.

2. Consider supplementation

- It is important to use a quality supplement.  A quality brand will add a liposomal shell that will allow for it to be more easily absorbed in the body. Many of the cheaper brands skip the crucial process and will not be as effective.

Selenium 

Selenium is an essential mineral that is vital to your health. As an essential nutrient, the body must receive it through diet or supplementation. It is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent damage from free radicals, decrease oxidative stress, and lower inflammation markers in your body.

Studies have linked selenium with an enhanced immune response. This leads us to believe that it could be useful in supporting your body’s ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Studies have also found that supplementing with selenium during pregnancy decreases the risk of thyroid abnormalities in women after pregnancy. Other research suggests that selenium may help reduce asthma-related symptoms, however more research is needed in this area.

Low levels of selenium have been associated with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and thyroid conditions like Hashimoto's.  

Action steps:

1. Consider the amount of selenium in your diet

- Oysters, brazil nuts, fish, red meat, and eggs are good sources of selenium. However, it is important not to over-consume this mineral. Too much selenium can be dangerous and even lead to death.

2. Consider supplementation

- A good quality liquid supplement is important. The liquid form is more easily absorbed and available to your cells.



My passion is to help people make steady changes to live in optimal health. If you are ready to take the next step towards healing, give us a call at 630-448-0255. I would love to come alongside you on this journey, and help you create a comprehensive plan so that you can reach your goals!


Dr. Jamie