In my previous post I featured a fascinating video on iodine by Dr. Ed Group of Global Healing Center and information about RDA and food sources for this very important nutrient. Today’s post focuses on the role iodine plays in health, some of the reasons so many of us are iodine-deficient, the dangers of over-supplementing and drug interactions, and resources for understanding the connection between the thyroid, iodine and radiation….
[In the gas phase, iodine shows its violet color]
Iodine and Health
According to NIH, due to its important role in fetal and infant development and thyroid hormone production, iodine is a critical nutrient for proper health at all life stages. The four main areas of bio-medical research examining iodine’s role in health and disease are fetal and infant development, cognitive function during childhood, fibrocystic breast disease, and radiation-induced thyroid cancer.
Fetal and infant development
Iodine sufficiency during pregnancy is extremely important for proper fetal development. During early pregnancy, when fetal thyroid gland development is incomplete, the fetus depends entirely on maternal T4 and therefore, on maternal iodine intake. Production of T4 increases by approximately 50% during pregnancy, requiring a concomitant increase in maternal iodine intake. Sufficient iodine intake after birth is also important for proper physical and neurological growth and maturation.
Cognitive function during childhood
The effects of severe iodine deficiency on neurological development are well documented. Results from several studies suggest, for example, that chronic, moderate-to-severe iodine deficiency, particularly in children, reduces IQ by about 12–13.5 points.
Fibrocystic breast disease
Fibrocystic breast disease is a benign condition characterized by lumpy, painful breasts and palpable fibrosis. It commonly affects women of reproductive age, but it can also occur during menopause, especially in women taking estrogens. Breast tissue has a high concentration of iodine, especially during pregnancy and lactation). Some research suggests that iodine supplementation might be helpful for fibrocystic breast disease, although a specific mechanism of action has not been established and data are limited.
Radiation-induced thyroid cancer
Nuclear accidents can release radioactive iodine into the environment, increasing the risk of thyroid cancer in exposed individuals, especially children. Thyroidal uptake of radioactive iodine is higher in people with iodine deficiency than in people with iodine sufficiency. For this reason, iodine-deficient individuals have a particularly high risk of developing radiation-induced thyroid cancer when exposed to radioactive iodine.
For more information go to: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/
Indications of an iodine deficiency:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Low energy/fatigue
- Inability to maintain a healthy weight
- Cold hands and/or feet
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Poor sleep pattern
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Muscle aches
- Swelling in ankles
Iodine is absolutely essential to the body and overall health, especially for creating the thyroid hormone. But as we grow older our thyroid starts to slow down and can’t metabolize the iodine it needs as efficiently, which means a decrease in the hormone produced. The two main reasons, other than aging, so many of us are iodine-deficient are:
- Inadequate dietary intake – Iodine is not abundant in the food we eat; it is primarily found in seaweed, kelp, certain seafood, and plants grown in iodine-rich soil. But these days soils are naturally deficient, especially the further you go inland. Iodine’s rarity in many soils, due to initial low abundance as a crust-element, and also leaching of soluble iodide by rainwater, has led to many deficiency problems in land animals and inland human populations. (See previous post on iodine for a chart with various foods listed with their iodine content.)
- Exposure to toxic substances – Iodine is easily displaced from the body by toxins called toxic halides that include fluoride, bromine and chloride
Fluoride is the worst culprit. It’s found in toothpaste and in the water supply, so every time you take a shower, brush your teeth or drink from the tap, the body is exposed to fluoride, leeching out iodine. Basically a toxic by-product of aluminum production, fluoridation was sold as a way to prevent cavities because some areas with natural fluoride in the water also had lower instances of tooth decay, but it has actually been found to do a poor job of preventing cavities. It is hard to understand how, when scrapped off aluminum refinery smokestacks, the fluoride is considered a hazardous waste, yet when put in bags and dumped into the water supply, it somehow magically transforms itself into something beneficial. Hmmm.
Bromine is an endocrine disruptor that competes for the same receptors for capturing iodine. Essentially, bromine crowds out iodine. How prevalent is bromine? Since it’s used to make bread dough more elastic and easier to handle, every time you bite into store bought bread you are probably taking in some bromine. It is also in:
- Bakery goods
- Citrus flavored soft drinks
- Fabric fire retardants
- Hair dyes
- Pesticides used on strawberries, especially in California
- Spaghetti & pasta
- Toothpaste and mouthwashes, and
- Your automobile!
So considering the American diet and way of life, it’s easy to see how and why so many of us are iodine-deficient. But having too much/excessive iodine is also a health risk and can happen in certain instances, especially if someone is unknowingly over supplementing….
Health Risks from Excessive Iodine
High intakes of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as iodine deficiency—including goiter, elevated TSH levels, and hypothyroidism—because excess iodine in susceptible individuals inhibits thyroid hormone synthesis and thereby increases TSH stimulation, which can produce goiter. Iodine-induced hyperthyroidism can also result from high iodine intakes, usually when iodine is administered to treat iodine deficiency. Studies have also shown that excessive iodine intakes cause thyroiditis and thyroid papillary cancer. Cases of acute iodine poisoning are rare and are usually caused by doses of many grams. Acute poisoning symptoms include burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach; fever; abdominal pain; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; weak pulse; and coma.
Responses to excess iodine and the doses required to cause adverse effects vary. Some people, such as those with autoimmune thyroid disease and iodine deficiency, may experience adverse effects with iodine intakes considered safe for the general population, so, as I mentioned in Part I, iodine supplementation is not something to fool around with. Work with a healthcare professional or be sure to have someone test you (or self-test, if you have a method for doing that) to make sure you are using the form of iodine and dosage your body wants and needs.
And you also need to be aware of the possibility of supplementing with iodine and possible medication interactions. Here’s some information from NIH on the subject:
Interactions with Medications
Iodine supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications. A few examples are provided below. Individuals taking these medications on a regular basis should discuss their iodine intakes with their health care providers.
Anti-thyroid medications, such as methimazole (Tapazole®), are used to treat hyperthyroidism. Taking high doses of iodine with anti-thyroid medications can have an additive effect and could cause hypothyroidism.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as benazepril (Lotensin®), lisinopril (Prinivil® and Zestril®), and fosinopril (Monopril®), are used primarily to treat high blood pressure. Taking potassium iodide with ACE inhibitors can increase the risk of hyperkalemia (elevated blood levels of potassium).
Taking potassium iodide with potassium-sparing diuretics, such as spironolactone (Aldactone®) and amiloride (Midamor®), can increase the risk of hyperkalemia.
FYI, you can get various forms of iodine at any good health food store, but today is the last day for the sale on Detoxadine®, the supplement I take from GHC, so I would definitely recommend checking that out. Here’s what I wrote about it in my previous post….
It’s actually what prompted me to finally get around to finishing and posting this information on iodine, because I wanted you to be able to take advantage of the sale. A bottle, which is super concentrated and lasts more than several months, is normally $29.95, but until 12/3 is just $19.95, plus shipping is free. Use code ‘Cyber2014’. I just ordered 2 bottles myself. Here’s a little about the product:
Unlike other iodine supplements which source iodine from the ocean, Detoxadine® is created using 300 million year old salt deposits located 7,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The result is an extremely pure and concentrated nascent iodine that is free of additives and toxins and also screened for radiation.
Detoxadine® is nascent iodine in a vegetable glycerin base. Unlike alcohol based formulas, it has an extremely gentle taste and is appropriate for adults and children alike.
Nascent iodine is also the most easily absorbed and utilized form of iodine available.
Why is Detoxadine® better than potassium iodide?
The nascent iodine in Detoxadine® is pure and much easier for your body to absorb and use. In nature, iodine is attached to other elements as a compound, it doesn’t exist pure. In these forms, absorption may only be 20%, making it biologically inefficient. Detoxadine® is different because it provides a bioavailable, non-toxic source of elemental nascent iodine that the body can efficiently use. Detoxadine® rapidly enters the bloodstream and disperses throughout the body.
The GHC website also has lots of testimonials and a 180 day money back guarantee. Also check out the Aqua-Spirit, O2 Zap (no home should be without it!), Oxy-powder and other products while you’re there.
See this related Self-help Health post about how certain anti-nutrients can block iodine absorption:
Robert J. Gilbert, Ph D about radiation fall-out and using potassium iodide:
And after Fukushima I featured a number of iodine-related posts at my Evolution Made Easier blog that contain a lot of information and resources you might find helpful:
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my new website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.