Iodine plays a huge role in your health. Every tissue, organ, and cell depends on it for their very survival. Your metabolism won’t function properly without it. Only 25% of the iodine in your body is located in your thyroid gland; the rest of it is found in other tissues, organs and cells.
The breast and prostate take up iodine more than any other tissue in the body except for the thyroid. Iodine plays a role in the digestion of your food and even affects the mucosa of your intestinal lining as well as your salivary glands. Even your eyes and the substantia nigra of your brain – the part of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease – are dependent on iodine for their health.
Iodine Controls Your Weight Through Thyroid Hormone
Many people know about iodine’s role in metabolism and weight loss through its ties with the thyroid. Your thyroid sets the metabolic rate in the body. Low thyroid function is called hypothyroidism, and overactive thyroid function is called hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is tied with an inability to lose weight, high cholesterol levels, slow growing hair and skin that takes forever to heal, among other symptoms.
Iodine is a major component of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. However, the trace element is also important for the creation of the enzymes that control thyroid hormone turnover.
Developing Nervous System and Brains Need Iodine
During development, iodine is essential for thyroid hormones to do their job and stimulate the development of the nervous system. Intelligence depends on iodine and thyroid hormone; studies have shown a higher IQ of 13.5 points in those with higher iodine levels compared to those with levels considered deficient.
Iodine Boosts Immunity
For many years, no one knew that iodine was also essential for immunity. Iodine works as an antibacterial and antiviral nutrient in the body. It also has anticancer properties. Iodine used to be used topically on the skin on wounds, acting as an antiseptic. It will kill bacteria that might interfere with wound healing. And one of the leading parasitic drugs is based on iodine.
High doses of iodine induce something called apoptosis, which is a process where cancer cells are killed. It does this by turning on genes to kill the cancer cells.
Iodine deficiency is linked with the following types of tumors and/or cancers:
- parotid duct
You may not know this, but iodine is one of the most important elements needed for detoxification. One expert, Dr. Brownstein states that it is impossible to achieve optimal health without adequate iodine levels.
Do You Have Any of These Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency?
There are many symptoms of iodine deficiency. Here’s a list – check to see if you have any of them:
- Cold hands and feet
- Swelling in the legs
- Weak heartbeat
- Puffiness or swelling in the eyes
- Muscle cramps
- Brittle nails
- Keloid scarring
- Can’t stand the cold
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry hair
- Headaches, including migraines
- Brain fog
- Stunted physical and mental development
- Mood swings where you go from being calm to being anxious
- Early menopause
- Hair loss
- Chronic aches and pains
- Desire to sleep when inactive
- High cholesterol
- Difficulty adapting to temperature changes
- Excess mucus production
- Poor memory
- Lack of skin tone
- Slow metabolism
- Nodules on the thyroid
- Enlargement of the thyroid, called a goiter
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Thyroid dysfunctions
- Prostate cancer
- Mental retardation
- Down’s Syndrome
- Developmental delays
How Did Iodine Get Discovered?
Here’s a timeline of the history of iodine below. You may be surprised to see that iodine was hidden from man until the 1800s.
1811 Iodine is discovered by Bernard Courtois during the Napoleon wars. However, due to lack of funding during the war, Courtois passed on the information to Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac and Andre M. Ampere as well as Charles Bernard Desormes and Nicolas Clement.
1813 Desormes and Clement announce the iodine discovery at an official scientist gathering at the Imperial Institute in France. Gay-Lussac and Ampere published their research stating that iodine was either an element or an oxygen compound.
That same year, Sir Humphry Davy named it iodine and noted similar properties to chlorine and fluorine.
Early 1900s Jean Lugol does research that sets up the discovery in the future that iodine has antiseptic properties. His research found that if iodine was attached to potassium, it became water-soluble.
1917 By now some MDs decided that it was time to regulate the use of iodine since everyone was self-medicating. They picked an arbitrary amount of iodine they thought an individual might need for the whole year. No official studies had been published until later that year when David Marine published his research on thyroid abnormalities in fish, dogs and people living in the Great Lakes region. His recommendation was to consume the MD low dose in two weeks, not in one year. However, the AMA never even considered his research.
1927 Dr. Sunker Bisey discovers a form of iodine that will be called nascent iodine. Years prior, he was dying while traveling from India to England… someone in France treated him with iodine from fired kelp and he recovered completely.
1900s Nascent iodine is used as a germicide and antiseptic.
1945 Researchers J.D. Stone and McFarland Burnet (later Nobel Prize recipient) discovered that if iodine was placed on the nose of mice before exposing them to viruses that were designed to kill them, they lived.
After 1945 Dr. Jean Francois Condet, a Swiss physician discovered that iodine could reverse goiters.
Who I Most Susceptible to an Iodine Deficiency?
Women, athletes who sweat a lot, construction workers, vegans, vegetarians, and those who work outside are at risk of developing an iodine deficiency. Twenty-five percent of vegetarians are deficient in iodine, and up to 80% of all vegans are deficient, as compared to only 9% of those who eat meat.
But it’s not just vegans who are doomed. We all are susceptible to an iodine deficiency. The reason why is because of other halogens in the environment – chlorine, bromine, and fluorine. These are antagonistic towards iodine in the body. Chlorine and fluoride are added to tap water for a constant daily toxic exposure to them.
Chlorine and Perchlorate
One of the largest contaminations of chlorine in the environment is perchlorate. It’s from rocket fuels. For example, perchlorate is a major contaminant in the Colorado River, affecting over 90% of the organic lettuce that is grown in this country from the river’s tributaries.
Fluoride is added to toothpastes for an additional source of daily contamination. The fluoride in Prozac interferes with your body’s use of iodine.
Bromine is a main ingredient in breads or baked goods so if you’re eating any of these foods, you are unknowingly lowering your iodine levels. It’ also found in flame retardants which are used in furniture, mattresses and pajamas. Bromine is also found in high amounts in Mountain Dew, Gatorade, and brominated vegetable oils. Bromine chemicals are added to pool water to treat it chemically. If you’ve ever had your house fumigated for termites, bromine gas was used – and that could also be a major reason for your thyroid problems.
Many people try to avoid environmental toxins such as these as best they can; however, the bottom line is that everyday you are being exposed to chemicals that compete for the iodine in your body.
Low Soil Levels Mean Food is Deficient, Too
Besides the contaminants, many areas of the world have naturally low levels of iodine. One of theses areas is called the Goiter Belt of the United States, and includes parts of the Midwest such as Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. If you live in these areas and are eating locally grown foods, you will most likely not be getting enough iodine.
The problem thus becomes not only a low intake of iodine, but also a high toxicity for these halogenic compounds from the environment and food.
When someone has low iodine levels and a toxic buildup of halogens in their body, they hit a weight plateau and their weight won’t budge. According to some experts, what’s needed is 12.5 mg iodine/day plus 1000 mg L-tyrosine daily along with a low calorie diet and exercise.
Government Screws Up
By adding iodine to salt, government officials believed they had a way to “fix” the Goiter Belt problem of low iodine in soil. In the 1960s, iodine was also added to breads and baked goods but iodine misinformation led to its replacement with bromine in the 1980s. The problem with the iodized salt is that most people don’t eat a lot of salt anymore because of its connection to high blood pressure.
How to Find Out If You’re Low in Iodine
You can get a rudimentary view into whether or not you are deficient by performing a test on yourself called the iodine patch test. This won’t hurt and it’s pretty inexpensive to do. Here’s the procedure:
The goal is to see how quickly your skin (and body) absorbs iodine. Using a tincture of iodine or an orange iodine solution, drop some iodine onto a 3 inch x 3 inch square of skin. The location you select should be either on your inner thigh, inner forearm or abdomen. The skin should not have any clothes on it because iodine stains clothing.
Let the iodine dry. Observe the time of the day or night you started this test.
Periodically during the day, observe if the patch of iodine is still there.
If the iodine disappears within 18 hours, you are most likely moderate to severely deficient. Normal test results are that the iodine patch still remains 24 hours later. You can order the test at 877-900-8556 or Doctors Data Lab at 1-800-323-2784 (ask for a practitioner close to you).
This test is not super accurate but gives you an idea of what is going on in your body with regards to iodine. Your doctor can run an actual iodine test on you that determines how deficient you may be. This test is called an iodine loading urine test, whereby you will take a large dose of iodine and then catch the urine during the day to see how much is excreted. The urine is sent to the laboratory.
Another test is a blood test for iodine.
The Cancer and Iodine Connection
The lowest rates of thyroid cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer are found in the Japanese. Iodine is responsible for turning on or off genes related to breast cancer. Low levels of iodine turn on the genes that cause breast cancer – and higher levels of iodine turn off these genes.
In Iceland, cattle were fed feed with added fishmeal before World War II However, this practice has been abandoned after the war and beef and dairy products were no longer a good source of the element. As a consequence, breast cancer rates multiplied by a factor of 10.
Iodine deficiency is not the only cause of breast cancer, but it is one of the primary causes. Many women with breast cancer also have enlarged thyroid glands.
Dr. David Brownstein reported three cases of breast cancer that went into remission on its own after the women took iodine. Here’s a summary of their results:
A PET scan of breast cancer in a 63-year-old woman who took 50 mg Iodoral for six weeks but no conventional treatment showed all the tumors were disintegrating.
An ultrasound follow-up exam of the breast of a 73-year-old woman who took 50 mg Iodoral daily showed diminished size in breast cancer lesions at the 18 months time mark. At 24 months, the breasts were normal.
Mammograms and ultrasound breast exams of a 52-year-old with cancer at the 3-year mark shoed decreased size of the tumor with no progression. She had been taking 50 mg Iodoral daily.
The nipples of the breast are the second largest user of iodine in the body. One Japanese scientist, Dr. Funahashi reported on his work that involved comparing chemotherapy treatments to the use of Lugol’s iodine or Wakame seaweed in rats with breast cancer. The iodine and seaweed stopped the development of breast tumors – and was even more effective than the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil.
RDA for Iodine is a Joke – Find Out About Food Sources and Toxicity
If you look at how much iodine the Japanese get every day in their diet, you’ll find it’s 12-14 mg. They eat foods naturally high in iodine such as seaweeds and fish, plus their soil is high in the nutrient.
However, there’s a big discrepancy between intake of iodine from foods in Japan and the RDA for iodine in the U.S., which is set at 150 mcg. There are 1000 mcg in 1 mg, so the Japanese are getting 12,000 mcg daily, compared to our 150 mcg. That’s about 80 times more than the RDA!
The RDA for iodine was never revised and is based only upon the amount needed to prevent the thyroid from enlarging.
Cultures that consume high amounts of iodine such as the Japanese have long lifespans compared to those who don’t. Interestingly, the Japanese live in an area riddled by industrial pollutants, yet their iodine intake may be the one factor responsible for detoxifying them and keeping them healthy. This is because they eat more seaweed than any other population, and seaweed has the highest iodine content of any other food.
Some foods that contain iodine include:
- Seaweed! (none of the others compare)
- Swiss chard
- sesame seed
- lima beans
- summer squash
Other foods in the Brassica group of foods such as cabbage, kale and broccoli as well as peaches and pears contain goitrogens that stop the iodine uptake in the body.
Ocean fish and sea vegetables are two of the major sources of iodine. Leafy greens and sunflower seeds (raw) are also food sources but they don’t provide much iodine at all compared to the daily need.
Toxicity from iodine is unheard of. Excess iodine is removed from the body in four ways – urine, sweat, tears and bile.
What Can You Do Right Now To Get Enough Iodine?
This is a lot of information – and you may be surprised by a lot of it! Still, you can start taking some actions right now to improve your iodine status. Here’s a list of some steps you could start taking right away:
- Eat More Seaweed! There’s no food with more iodine than seaweed, such as those found in quality seaweed salad and the nori sheets used for sushi rolls. There are some healthy seaweed snacks that you can find at the health food stores, such as Auntie Chunn’s dried seaweed. Try to have a daily snack of seaweed and brazil nuts, which contain a lot of selenium to help balance the iodine and help with absorption.
- Take an iodine supplement! One of the pioneers of using iodine for optimum health is Dr. Guy Abraham. His recommendation is to take 12.5 mg iodine per day. Is there toxicity that should be considered? Probably not, as in a radiation disaster, people are given 165 mg iodine. Previous studies have even given 300 mg iodine to girls in the goiter belt and the only effect was better health. Dr. Abraham developed Idoral, an iodine supplement that can be taken and is available on Amazon.
- Use natural sea salt! Start using unprocessed sea salts such as Celtic and Himalayan salts, which are not heated or bleached. They will contain small amounts of iodine, not enough for your daily needs, but the sodium chloride in them will help your kidneys detoxify bromine. This seems counter-intuitive to use a salt without the added iodine, but the truth is that processed salt with added iodide was never enough anyway. So go back to the better quality salts that will provide your body with a more natural trace mineral profile and use better sources for your iodine intake (such as seaweed or a supplement).
How Much Iodine Should You Take Each Day?
For women, Dr. Brownstein reports that the breasts need about 5 mg iodine per day and the rest of the organs need at least 2 mg. Thus, a minimum of 6.25 mg is probably best for those who are a bit shy about using iodine or those with fibrocystic breast disease who feel they are going against what their doctor says. Fat tissue stores a lot of iodine, and if you are overweight or obese, consider this in the dosage and length of time you take iodine.
Nascent Iodine is thought to be the most bio-available form of iodine. One of the product names on the market for nascent iodine is called Detoxadine. The directions are generally to use 1-10 drops or more daily, as prescribed by your physician. To calculate how much you are getting, consider that one drop = 400 mcg iodine. Try not to take it after 4 pm, as it could give you too much energy.
Lugol’s solution of iodine is made of molecular iodine and potassium iodide. This is the best solution for those who are seeking to use iodine for breast health, and lung health, as it increases respiratory tract secretions.
Potassium iodide tablets are widely available, and you can select your dosage from less than 1 mg (0.23 mg) to 130 mg. Its absorption rate is about 20%. Potassium iodide is good for situations where there’s a nuclear disaster because it can decrease the chance that you’ll develop thyroid cancer. It’s also used when people have hyperthyroidism emergencies.
Consider working with your health care practitioner to figure it all out! But whatever you do, don’t let another day go by without taking some iodine.
Books to Read About Iodine
- Iodine: Why You Need It; Why You Can’t Live Without It by Dr. David Brownstein http://www.drbrownstein.com
- Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, And Stimulants – Dangerous Drugs on Trial by Dr David W Tanton, Ph.D.
- The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What Treatments Work and Why by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.
- Breast Cancer: A Nutritional Approach by Carlton Fredericks
- Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer: A Comprehensive Program for Prevention and Treatment by Donald R. Yance, j r.,C.N., M.H., A.H.G., with Arlene Valentine
- The Natural Hormone Makeover: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate Your Health and Rediscover Your Inner Glow by Phuli Cohan