by Sandy Jarvis
(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
The bottle of iodine in your medicine cabinet has nothing to do with sex appeal, but it’s different with the iodine you eat.
There she goes, trig and trim, tripping down the street in the manner gentlemen prefer. She has everything, including ample thyroxine.
Here she comes, plowing down the avenue, slow as a tramp steamer and approximately as majestic—Sluggish Susie, slow and fat, with mental activity no greater than the law allows, and the oomph quotient of a blimp.
Of course Susie is just an example, and anyhow maybe her name is John. She isn’t anybody you know. She is just a subject for our text on iodine, one of the big four minerals—the others are calcium, phosphorus, and iron— likely to be lacking in American diets.
Grasp the front of your neck in a choking stance and your fingers and thumb will be on opposite sides of your thyroid gland. This is a potent little twin-lobed organ that is something like a saddle on your Adam’s apple.
It filters out of your bloodstream every unemployed molecule of iodine it can lay its glands on and from it manufactures a powerful secretion, thyroxine, which represents the naturally not inconsiderable margin that separates you from imbecility.
By this time you are aware that your body produces a vast amount of heat energy. The thyroid gland is the thermostat that controls the rate at which the furnace burns.
Too little of it brings listlessness, loss of energy, obesity, sluggishness, lack of mental and physical pep and ginger.
Too much of it jacks your thermostat so high that you become excitable, overheated, constantly hungry; the mind is over-active, jumps like a grasshopper instead of following through on ideas; your heart races and the eyes tend to bulge.
But ah—a perfectly adjusted thyroid and you’re a good bet for any man’s or woman’s interest!
Iodine enters this charming picture because it makes up two-thirds of the secretion of the thyroid. When you don’t get enough iodine, the gland works overtime to make up the deficiency but the best it can do is increase its own substance and then the neck swells unattractively with simple goiter.
There are complex relationships between the thyroid and the sex glands and general activities involving energy, as the search for romance assuredly does.
Iodine shortage is particularly common in regions of the country once covered by glaciers. The Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest regions have soils and drinking water particularly poor in iodine.
It is now common practice to include iodized table salt in the diet and in this way the incidence of simple goiter has to great degree been controlled. But there are other types of goiter (not all of them cause neck swellings) that are made worse by excess iodine.
The warning of authorities is that any person over the age of thirty who has a swelling on the neck should consult a physician before taking iodized salt or other form of iodine therapy.
There is no practical danger of your getting too much iodine from foods, however. Rabbits whose foods were limited to Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or cauliflower have developed toxic goiters, the result of excess production of thyroxine.
This is not the result of excess iodine, but of the richness of these foods in cyanide compounds of an organic nature. Through chemical processes the cyanide radicles tend to create a shortage of oxygen available to the body; this causes the thyroid, which controls oxidation processes, to step up production of its secretion.
The possibility of your limiting your diet to Brussels sprouts is reasonably remote, although some “reducing’* diets of a faddish nature are just about as wacky, which gives us another chance to work in a plug for a reasonable variety of foods every day.
Sea foods are the most abundant sources of dietary iodine—fish, oysters, lobsters, sardines. Canned salmon is an excellent source. Vegetables may contain much or little iodine according to the nature of the soils they are grown in.
This variability is characteristic of the mineral values of most plant foods, which naturally cannot be expected to abstract elements from soils that have been depleted by intensive cultivation or are naturally deficient.
Now that you see how the thyroid secretion regulates the rate at which you burn energy, it is easy to understand the functions and dangers of thyroid extract as a reducing drug. In the case of Sluggish Susie, a little thyroid might be just what the doctor ordered