The Facts about Iodine
Iodine is an essential mineral in the body, and one which is often underestimated in its importance for health, beyond the role in thyroid health. However, iodine found throughout the body and is absolutely vital to the health of the body in ways that reach far beyond thyroid function.
- General antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral properties
- Enhancing immune function
- Mood regulation
- Helps to maintain healthy mental and memory function
- Blood pressure regulation
- Blood sugar regulation and the prevention of diabetes
- Excretion of toxic metals
- Proper excretion of sweat
- Contributing to normal hormonal function
- Contributes to proper gastric digestive acid secretion
With the above-mentioned functions in mind, iodine can be useful as part of the treatment for the following conditions:
- Improve general energy and wellbeing
- Reduce headaches
- Improve sleep
- Improve digestive function
- Reduce or prevent ovarian and breast cysts
- Reduce the risk of spontaneous abortion
- Reduce the risk of birth defects
- Help to treat autoimmune diseases
- Aid in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome
- Alleviation of fibromyalgia symptoms
- Regulation of thyroid imbalance-hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, and autoimmune thyroid conditions
- Cancer prevention and treatment (esp. breast, ovarian, uterus, prostate, and thyroid)
- Help in preventing abnormal cardiac rhythms
- Prevent or help to treat diabetes
The Prevalence of Iodine Deficiency
The body cannot produce iodine itself, and iodine must be obtained through the diet. It has been estimated that up to 75% of the world’s population is deficient in iodine and in clinical settings which use the iodine clearance test up to 90% or more of patients receive a deficient result. In the United States, 10% of the adults of a laboratory diagnosed thyroid disease, and possibly up to 40% have an undiagnosed thyroid disease. There are many reasons for this widespread deficiency. These include:
- Modern agricultural practices causing polluted and iodine-deficient soils
- Contamination of water with bromine, fluorine, and chlorine
- Increased consumption of processed bakery products
- A diet low in fish, seafood, and sea vegetables
- The modern trend of low salt diets
Modern agricultural methods such as the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and fumigants causes a depletion in the mineral content of the soil, including a depletion in the levels of iodine in the soil. At the same time, these modern agricultural methods increase the soil content of bromide, which is very toxic to the human body. The modern water supply is also a concern because it is contaminated with the byproducts of agriculture such as pesticides, etc. but it is also contaminated through the ill-informed practice of adding fluoride and chloride to the water supply. As you will see shortly these two minerals in conjunction with bromide have serious consequences in the body, especially in relation to iodine status. Up until the 1980s, processed bakery products were made with the addition of iodine, however since the early 1980s this iodine has been replaced with bromine which is having devastating effects on the general population. The typical modern diet is quite low in seafood, sea vegetables, and salt. As the soils are very iodine-deficient, as mentioned above, these foods are the primary dietary sources of iodine, and they are not consumed in sufficient amounts by most people.
How much Iodine do you need?
It is important to note that the recommended daily intake of all vitamins and minerals as set by governing bodies is the bare minimum that is required to avoid a frank deficiency condition or set of serious symptoms. This does not mean that this minimum recommended daily intake is enough to ensure the levels of a nutrient in the amount required to encourage optimum health and wellbeing or in the amount required to prevent a range of diseases. This is particularly the case for iodine, as there have been some misconceptions in the medical community in recent times about the perceived risk of iodine supplementation to the normal thyroid function. These studies were done using a radioactive form of iodine that is not the preferred form for iodine supplementation. It is quite relevant to keep in mind that there is a history of several hundred years of medical practitioners using the preferable non-radioactive forms of iodine in similar doses to those we recommend to successfully treat a variety of medical complaints.
Your natural health practitioner will use their knowledge and expertise to determine the suitable amount of iodine supplementation for you, if you are found to be deficient. Generally this recommended dosage will be between 12-50 mg. daily, and will be corrected based upon ongoing follow-up iodine testing. This dosage is based on many published scientific studies, the clinical experience of medical doctors and other health professionals, and on research into the Japanese diet. In Japan the average intake of iodine is approximately 13.8 mg. per day, and the Japanese enjoy much lower levels of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, and goiter than do countries such as Australia and the USA where intake of iodine may be up to 100 times less than the Japanese level. Interestingly, there have been studies in Australia to show that in parts of Australia where there is a widespread localized iodine deficiency; there is an increased prevalence of breast cancer. It has been found in people with a proven iodine deficiency that supplementation with 50 mg daily returns iodine sufficiency levels in the body in three months. On levels of 12 mg daily sufficiency is returned in a year. However, the amount of time it takes to return to sufficient levels of iodine in the body can vary between individuals and based on other dietary and lifestyle factors which your practitioner can discuss with you. Iodine is the safest of all the trace elements and it has been proven safe for long-term administration even in amounts up to 100,000 times greater than the recommended daily allowances set by governing bodies. This safety, however, only applies to the non radioactive forms of iodine supplementation, and these safe forms are the only ones your practitioner will use. Ensure you and your family are getting the iodine needed!