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Iodine is a key component of the hormone thyroxine produced by the thyroid gland. Thyroxine is important in general metabolism regulation and in normal fetal development. Iodine deficiency can lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland (otherwise known as goiter), as well as other related disorders. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy may cause cretinism (a form of mental retardation) in the baby. Less severe deficiencies during pregnancy can lead to lesser degrees of neurological damage, which are generally manifested as poor cognitive performance and hearing impairment. These conditions are rare in the U.S. as iodine is easily accessible, especially from iodized salt.
Food sources of iodine include milk, bread, fish, various fruits and vegetables, and legumes.
Although cases of intolerance to levels around 2,000 mcg have been reported, humans can generally tolerate levels exceeding 10,000 to 20,000 mcg per day.
For additional information (including a list of references), please refer to the iodine technical bulletin at http://www.usana.com/dotCom/company/science/components.