Iodine supplementation

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Iodine solution

Iodine is probably the most deficient trace mineral on Earth. It is estimated that a third of mankind is functioning below optimal level due to deficiency. The Japanese, one of the healthiest societies, have a daily intake of about 14 mg. The FDA recommends 150 mcg daily as essential to prevent goitre and cretinism, but the optimal intake for health is probably about 50 mg a day [300 times greater]. Guy E Abraham, MD, has researched iodine extensively for the past 15 years and has discovered that the whole body needs iodine, not just the thyroid gland. It is found in the mitochondria of every cell, hence its relevance to optimal energy production. The highest concentrations of iodine are found in the thyroid and female reproductive organs, followed by other glands.

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Thyroid gland

The thyroid depends on adequate iodine for optimal functioning. Iodine uptake by the thyroid can be blocked by substances known as goitrogens, which has the effect of suppressing thyroid function, leading to goitre. Goitrogens are found in cruciferous vegetables, soybeans, peanuts, flaxseed, spinach and some fruits. Thus, one should be cautious with excessive intake of these foods, especially if juiced.

Low iodine levels contribute to the causation of auto-immune thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, hypothyroidism and thyroid nodules. Iodine is also necessary to protect the thyroid from radiation poisoning.

The thyroid has a protective mechanism to limit uptake of iodine to a maximum of 0.6 mg/day; Nevertheless, thyroid function should be monitored if taking iodine as a supplement.

Female reproductive organs

Deficiency of iodine causes fibrocystic breast disease, which can be resolved by supplementing iodine. Breast cancer, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) will all respond to iodine supplementation. Iodine favourably affects oestrogen metabolism by increasing estriol [E3], which results in a better balance with the other oestrogens [E1 and E2] and lowers cancer risk.

Metal toxicity

Iodine assists in the detoxification and chelation [removal] of heavy metals from the body such as aluminium, cadmium, lead and mercury.

Nervous system

Iodine is essential for the normal development of children, especially that of the nervous system and IQ in the first 3 years. Adequate levels are needed for mental clarity in adults.

Other benefits of iodine supplementation:

  • Increased energy.
  • Improvement in Dupuytren’s contracture and Peyronie disease.
  • Reduction in atheromatous plaque in blood vessels, especially if given with 15 mg niacin. Cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension.
  • Relief of chronic bronchitis and obstructive airway disease. Iodine helps to loosen thick secretions and kills micro-organisms.
  • Benefits for diabetes types I & II and obesity.
  • Prevents recurrent infections.

Why can I not get enough iodine from my diet?

Seaweed is a good source of iodine

Seaweed is a good source of iodine

Many areas of the Earth are deficient in iodine, so the crops grown thereon will also be deficient. Foods high in iodine are kelp, haddock and cranberries, as well as other sea vegetables and seafoods. Unless you are Japanese, you probably don’t consume enough of these in your normal diet. One may well ask if consuming iodised table salt is not enough? Table salt has been iodised for many years to compensate for the iodine deficiency in our diet, but the levels of iodine added are merely sufficient to prevent severe deficiency diseases such as cretinism and goitre. Table salt has been refined, processed and adulterated, which puts the body under added stress to process it [unlike the many health benefits associated with natural salt such as Himalayan crystal salt and others].

Iodised salt contains 74 mcg iodine per gram of salt. To reach the optimal levels of iodine, as consumed by the Japanese, one would have to consume 168 g of salt daily! We are consuming increasing amounts of fluorine, chlorine and bromide in toothpaste, water and bread respectively. Iodine belongs to the same group of halogens and is easily displaced by these chemicals.

How do I know if my body is deficient in iodine?

Two tests are useful in assessing the body’s need for iodine.

  1. Paint a patch of 2% iodine tincture 5 x 5 cm on your stomach. If the patch is absorbed in 24 hours, you are likely deficient in iodine.
  2. The iodine loading test is a more accurate and comprehensive test developed by Dr Abraham. It is based on the concept that the normal body retains iodine until whole body sufficiency is achieved. Urine is collected for 24 hours after taking 50 mg of Iodoral. When there is iodine deficiency present, little iodine will be excreted in the urine. When there is a sufficient body level, larger amounts of iodine will be excreted.

The iodine loading test is now available at the Greenhouse Integrative Medical Centre.

Supplementation with iodine

This can be done with Lugol’s iodine [potassium iodide 1% and iodine 5%] or Iodoral tablets. It is generally safe because side effects are very uncommon, as long as you are not allergic to iodine. Lugol’s iodine can cause stomach irritation. Acne, headache, brassy taste and increased salivation and sneezing have been reported in 1% of cases.

Reference

Abraham GE, Flechas JD, Hakala JC. Orthoiodosupplementation: Iodine Sufficiency of the Whole Human Body. The Original Internist. 2002;9:30-41.

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