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Doctor and Patient

Iodine in humans


Iodine deficiency is especially serious for pregnant women and young children. During pregnancy, even milder deficiencies can negatively affect fetal development and hinder  both physical and mental development, a severe and irreversible condition known as cretinism. The International Council for the Control of IDD (ICCIDD), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, united in the Iodine Global Network, have devoted strong efforts to diminish IDD. Quoting WHO: “Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.”


Iodine deficiencies affect at least two billion people worldwide, being the most preventable cause of mental retardation. Iodine deficiency can be determined from the content of iodine in urine. The intake of iodine in the daily diet of on average more than 30% of school-aged children worldwide is not sufficient, and this has clinical consequences: Goitre (an enlarged thyroid gland) or cretinism are the most common clinical manifestation when iodine deficiency is severe. However, mild deficiencies can affect the whole community when they are the cause of subclinical disorders manifested as retarded growth, impaired mental function, and decreased rate of metabolism (people become slow and lethargic).

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Anti-radiation Pill

During a nuclear accident, an important part of the radioactivity is released in form of iodine-131, a major radioisotope constituent in nuclear power plants. A very high dose of potassium iodide given shortly after body exposure to radiation can minimize body damage, especially diminishing probability of thyroid cancer. The thyroid gland has the capability to absorb both radioactive and non-radioactive iodine. When non-radioactive iodine is made available in blood for absorption by the thyroid gland before exposure to radioactive iodine, the gland will become saturated with „healthy“ iodine, preventing uptake of radio-iodines by the thyroid. 


Iodine is used as active ingredients in antispasmodics, coronary vasodilators and neuromuscular blocking agents, or in the production of pharmaceuticals compounds for endocrinology, gastroenterology, parasitology, pneumology and rheumatology. Iodine is also found in intermediate molecules for the synthesis of antibiotics, corticosteroids and other drugs.

Iodinated Contrast Media

Contrast media are diagnostic agents that are introduced into the body to fill, coast or surround the structure of interest to enhance contrast in anatomic areas where there is insufficient natural contrast. Using the relative density difference of iodine versus soft tissues and fluids, iodine compounds are used as contrast media for X-ray exams of the human body.


Iodine has a germicide action due to its capacity to penetrate quickly through the cell wall of microorganisms, causing a rupture in the structures of its proteins and nucleic acid. Applications for these products are found in hospitals, laboratories, food industries, chemical plants, cattle and poultry houses, wherever sanitation is a concern.

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