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Organic Scottish Seaweed
Iodine was first discovered by the French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811 when he was extracting sodium and potassium compounds from seaweed.
Like many scientific breakthroughs, Courtois came across iodine by accident when he added too much acid to his solution and a violet-coloured cloud emerged from his experiment. Iodine comes from the Greek word ‘iodes’ which means violet.
As explained in chapter 5 of Mad Diet, iodine is a good halogen that is essential for thyroid function, mental health, and immune support. Unfortunately the bad halogens (fluoride, chlorine, bromine) are much more common. They are in our food supply, drinking water and environment, and they displace iodine in the body, effectively neutralising iodine’s positive impact. As a result, most of us who eat a Western diet are now deficient.
Seaweed and sea vegetables have been used by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Polynesians and Celts for millennia as both food and medicine. The minerals and oils present in seaweed have long been used to recuperate from illness and ancient mariners called it ‘sailor’s cure’ due to its high concentration of vitamins and vital nutrients.
Seaweed was a regular part of our diet right up until the Victorian era when it fell out of fashion due to the exciting new foods being brought back to the UK from around the world during the expansion of the British Empire. The invention of the steam engine also allowed greater distribution of these new foods.
Once again, giving up the old traditions for new foods maybe wasn’t such a smart move. Seaweed and sea vegetables contain more vitamins, minerals and nutrients pound for pound than land plants and they are a cheap and healthy source of iodine. A study from the University of Glasgow published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 not only highlighted that a lack of iodine in the UK population is now a prominent health issue, but the problem could be solved by taking Scottish seaweed in the form of a supplement.
The type of Scottish seaweed used in the study was Ascophyllum nodosum, part of the Fucaceae family of sea plants. The women in the study took 500mg of seaweed supplement per day – that’s 350 micrograms or μg of iodine.