HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The water off the shores of Florida carries a vital nutrient, iodine. It's plentiful in the seaweed that surrounds sushi, fish, eggs, whole wheat bread, and iodized salt.
"Iodine is good for one thing in the human body and that is the thyroid uses it to make thyroid hormone," said Endocrinologist Mack Harrell with Memorial Healthcare.
Iodine is also necessary for the optimal function of the prostate, ovaries, and breasts.
"We do know that when women are deficient in iodine, their likelihood of getting breast lumps does increase," added Aaron Chadwick with the South Florida Natural Healthcare Center.
Iodine is also essential for the development of the central nervous system, which is especially important during pregnancy and lactation.
Beyond that, Dr. Harrell questions the benefits of iodine supplements.
"The fact is today in the United States, it's rare to see iodine deficiency," he said.
And, too much iodine can have a negative effect.
"You can theoretically shut the thyroid gland down if it gets too much," said Chadwick. "It says, 'okay, I've got enough, I've got too much,' so it shuts down."
A blood test can detect problems and help practitioners correct them through diet and supplements.
Supervised iodine supplementation helped Jennie Buondemonte reverse low thyroid function and get her off medication.
"I was really excited when I heard my levels were normal and I'm feeling great," she said.
Symptoms of having too much iodine include palpitations, insomnia, sweating, and pain in the eyes.