Oh The Difference Iodine Can Make!

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Have you noticed that thyroid, prostate and breast cancer are on the rise? It seems like cancer in general has become a bigger and bigger problem for lots of people.

We see TONS of thyroid problems in our clinic. Traditional medical training doesn’t offer any solutions for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or Grave’s Disease other than thyroid ablation and thyroid hormone replacement.

Hopefully, we’ll show you why some of these thyroid issues occur and there actually is something that can be done about much of them.

IodineThis post will be an introduction to iodine and we’ll follow with information about how iodine specifically affects things like breast & prostate cancer and thyroid disease in additional posts.

Iodine is a halide. Halides are a class of chemicals on the periodic table (group VIIa) and includes Fluorine, Bromine, Iodine, Chlorine, and Astatine. Each of these chemicals are structurally similar and they can compete with each other for binding sites in the body. This gets into why these other chemicals can be detrimental to your health.

We generally get our iodine from our food but most people in the US are deficient in iodine intake. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 150 mcg per day for your average adult but this increases during pregnancy and lactation (breast feeding). But, remember that the RDA levels are based on preventing certain diseases, and in this case it is goiter.

While 150mcg per day is sufficient for preventing goiter it is woefully inadequate for optimal health!

Numerous conditions have been associated with iodine deficiency. Here is a partial list

  • Mental retardation
  • Goiter
  • Increased child & infant mortality
  • Infertility
  • Breast cancer – Causes estrogen production to increase, increased estrogen sensitivity in the breast
  • Prostate cancer
  • Fibrocystic breast disease –
  • Cretenism
  • Spontaneous abortions
  • ADHD
  • SIDS
  • Multiple Sclerosis

One question I had was “why are so many people deficient in iodine?”┬áThere are actually a couple of reasons for this.

Inadequate iodine intake

The World Health Organization recommends taking iodized salt to enhance iodine intake. Part of the problem with this is that iodized salt consists of processed salt, stripped from its other nutrients, and iodine. Processed salt is not the best way to go for multiple reasons. However, it does increase your iodine intake.

The other problem with this is that salt has been vilified in the medical community due to its potential impact on health. Primarily in those with hypertension, edema, or congestive heart failure (CHF). These patients are often put on a low sodium diet which is also restricting their iodine intake. Many people choose to go on a low sodium diet on their own and yet others choose to avoid processed, iodized salt and use natural forms of salt instead. I can’t disagree with that.

You can also get iodine from your natural food.

Seafood tends to be higher in iodine and seaweed has a special ability to concentrate iodine making it an excellent source. Other seafood such as cod, sea bass, haddock, and perch also have higher levels.

Other foods may have some iodine as well but it really depends on the region in which the food is grown. For example, the mid-western United States tends to have lower levels.

The iodized salt mentioned above provides 77 mcg of iodine per gram of salt. This is 100 parts per million (ppm) of Potassium Iodine (KI). In order to meet the RDA (which is too low) you’d need to ingest at least 2 grams per day of iodized salt. Some sources say that you should limit your sodium intake to less than 1500mg per day. Salt is about 40% sodium which makes your total limit for salt around 5 grams per day.

Iodine Replacement

You can eat food higher in iodine as stated above. Or you can supplement with iodine. There are several forms of iodine for replacement:

  • Iodine
  • Iodide
  • Lugol’s Solution – 2 drops contains 12.5mg of iodine & iodide. There is 5% iodine in every 2 drops and 7.5mg (10%) of potassium iodine.
  • Iodoral is a tablet form of Lugol’s

Toxic loads of the other halides

I previously mentioned that iodine is a halide and these halides compete with one another for binding sites. Higher levels of chlorine, fluorine, and bromine compete with iodine and increase the need for higher levels of iodine.

Fluorine and Bromine have no redeeming value in the human body. Some would argue that fluorine is beneficial for reducing the risk of dental caries but there are some suggestions that the benefits are dramatically overrated. Additionally, the number one cause of tooth decay is sugar. We shouldn’t consume a toxic substance in order to cover up the detriments of our poor nutritional choices. Bromide has no benefit in the body and has been shown to be toxic as well. In my opinion, we should be avoiding ingesting both of these substances altogether.

Iodine Toxicity

If you look into iodine supplementation you’ll see a lot of information on iodine toxicity for sure. There is also a lot of information out there suggesting supplementing with higher than recommended doses.

It is important to remember that the tolerance to iodine intake is highly variable from person to person. Some people can tolerate higher levels than others. However, 1mg per day seems to be safe for most people without adverse effects.[1]

Some patients may require higher doses of iodine in order to optimize their health. These patients may be at higher risk for adverse events but these can be monitored. Thyroiditis, hypothyroid, and hyperthyroid are some of the more common manifestations of too much iodine intake and these can be monitored and treated should they arise.

References:

  1. Pennington JA. A review of iodine toxicity reports. J Am Diet Assoc. 1990 Nov; 90(11):1571-81.