Do you remember those little bottles of iodine when you were growing up? Do you know what iodine is? If you’re a little hazy, the founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc., Terry Lemerond, has the answers.

To put it simply, iodine is a mineral, such as calcium or magnesium. According to author and educator Lemerond, it’s a trace element. “It’s one that we do not really have a source for in the American diet. Our soil is very depleted of iodine; certain regions of the United States have no iodine in the soil,” adds Lemerond.

Lemerond, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says iodine is important in our diet. Lack of iodine “causes goiters (enlargement of the thyroid gland), and causes a disruption of the thyroid function…every cell in the body has a receptor site for iodine, particularly breast tissue, prostate tissue, ovaries and uterus.” Alternative doctors have discovered that the incidence of cancer in those tissues are much less in Japan than in the United States. The Japanese have a high intake of iodine because of a diet rich in seafood and sea weed.

In the United States, a large number of women are deficient in iodine, and have hypothyroidism. About 50 percent of men have hypothyroidism. Lemerond says iodine is what’s required to improve the function of the thyroid. “Unfortunately, when doctors discover hypothyroidism, they never think about suggesting iodine…iodine seems to be one of those forgotten and misunderstood minerals.”

Iodine has a lot of great properties, says Lemerond. “It acts as an anti-viral, an anti-bacterial; it improves healing…it’s an alkaline substance, so it helps to alkalize the body from an overly acidic condition…alternative physicians are finding that it improves the well-being (energy levels) of individuals… the thyroid is kind of like the thermostat of the house. It sets the temperature, sets the metabolic rate, sets how fast we burn calories.”

Lemerond says most doctors (general practitioners) aren’t well versed in iodine. “Out of about 12 years of medical school, they get about four hours of nutrition. They really don’t have a background or history of studying nutrition, vitamins and minerals, and what they’re necessary for,”says Lemerond, noting that these doctors tend to give something synthetic rather than natural.

Lemerond recalls that when he was in grade school, youngsters received chocolate-flavored goiter pills as an iodine supplement. Iodine was an ingredient in salt, but, says Lemerond, “Iodine has fallen out of favor because salt is no longer suggested, because it’s responsible for a lot of sodium intake and it causes high blood pressure and other medical conditions. So we don’t really get much iodine anymore.”

If you’re considering iodine (capsules and tablets are available in health food stores and pharmacies), it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor. Lemerond says, “There are good alternative practitioners who are using iodine…iodine is one of the most critical factors in improving quality of health.”

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