Human Metabolome Database: Iodine
Iodine is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol I and atomic number 53. Iodine naturally occurs in the environment chiefly as dissolved iodide in seawater, although it is also found in some minerals and soils. Chemically, iodine is the least reactive of the halogens, and the most electropositive halogen after astatine. Iodine is primarily used in medicine, photography and dyes. Iodine is a dark-gray/purple-black solid that sublimes at standard temperatures into a purple-pink gas that has an irritating odor. Iodine dissolves easily in chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, or carbon disulphide to form purple solutions (It is only slightly soluble in water, giving a yellow solution). The deep blue color of starch-iodine complexes is produced only by the free element. In solution, iodine has anti-infective properties and is often used topically to treat wounds. Iodine is a nutritionally essential element, especially important in thyroid hormone synthesis. Iodine's only known roles in biology are as constituents of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These are made from addition condensation products of the amino acid tyrosine, and are stored prior to release in a protein-like molecule called thryroglobulin. T4 and T3 contain four and three atoms of iodine per molecule, respectively. The thyroid gland actively absorbs iodide ion from the blood to make and release these hormones into the blood, actions which are regulated by a second hormone TSH from the pituitary. Thyroid hormones are phylogenetically very old molecules which are synthesized by most multicellular organisms, and which even have some effect on unicellular organisms. The FDA recommends 150 micrograms of iodine per day for both men and women. This is necessary for proper production of thyroid hormone. Natural sources of iodine include sea life, such as kelp and certain seafood. Salt for human consumption is often enriched with iodine and is referred to as iodized salt. Iodine deficiency gives rise to a disease called goiter. Iodine deficiency is also the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. It remains a serious health problem in many developing countries.