Metabolic • Thyroid • Immune
Did you know it’s been estimated that over 90% of the United States population is iodine deficient and up to 74% are severely deficient?**
Iodine in its various forms is such an important element in the body, and it has many jobs to do. It is involved in immunity, metabolism, energy production, fetal and early childhood cognitive development, and hormone production. It is also required for the conversion of carcinogenic estrogen and progesterone hormone metabolites, heavy metal and radiation detoxification, and so much more.
For over 200 years, medical practitioners have been using iodine for a wide variety of reasons and it was once considered the universal medicine. Iodine was shown to be able to treat goiter in Michigan and Ohio through studies conducted in the early 1920s on school children. These studies showed that 40% of school children had goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It was found that treatment with just a small amount of iodine caused goiters to go away. By 1982, there was a 75% reduction in the occurrence of goiter in the area. The addition of iodine to table salt was a direct result of these studies, but despite the wide use of iodized salt, goiters are still around today.
Can iodized salt really provide enough iodine?
The amount of iodine in iodized salt is not sufficient to meet the extensive needs of the entire body. Keep in mind, our thyroids are not the only part of our bodies that use iodine. In fact, iodine is used by every cell in our bodies.
In every gram of iodized salt, there are 77 micrograms of iodine and the maximum recommended daily intake of salt is 5 grams – 385 micrograms of iodine. Unfortunately, only about 10% of this iodine is bioavailable, able to be absorbed by the body, according to urine tests, but medical schools still teach that iodine in salt is adequate. Today, sea salt is quickly becoming a preferred alternative, but sea salt contains very little iodine, if any.
The current recommended daily amount (RDA) of iodine is 150-220 micrograms per day and was developed in 1924 from the findings of goiter prevention studies. This means the RDA is only enough to help prevent goiter, but it is not typically sufficient to cover the needs of the entire body. It is inadequate because our bodies need about 100 times this RDA just to produce iodolactone (a required substance for normal cell apoptosis) and it is certainly not enough to help prevent hormone-related cancers.
Our thyroids alone require 5-7 milligrams (5000-7000 micrograms) of iodine each day. Breast tissue and reproductive tissues require similar amounts and without adequate iodine, these tissues can develop fibroids. Just based on this, it becomes clear that the current RDA is outdated and likely not enough for most individuals. As a result, many healthcare practitioners are now using 12.5 milligrams as the standard daily adult supplementation.
Iodine intake is highly individualized and some people, such as those with autoimmune thyroid diseases, should not take iodine supplements. This is why working with a healthcare practitioner and doing regular iodine testing is always recommended and encouraged to help determine an individual’s iodine needs.
How can a lack of iodine affect processes in the human body?
Energy Production and Metabolism
Iodine is required to synthesize thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism, oxygenation, and energy production. When we are iodine deficient, we can feel sluggish and fatigued.
Patients taking thyroid hormones may also need to take an iodine supplement because these hormones may increase the body’s need for iodine. Disorders that involve iodine deficiencies may worsen or become more prevalent, such as the incidence of breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers.
Through the production of thyroid hormones, iodine helps prevent metabolic weight gain and fires up metabolism increasing caloric burn. Without adequate iodine intake, these thyroid hormones cannot be produced.
Hormone Balance and Cancer
Iodine works in the production and balance of all hormones, not just thyroid, and balance is key for disease prevention. It helps regulate and balance estrogen production in female ovaries and adrenal tissues in men that can stimulate the development and progression of hormone-related cancers, such as breast, ovarian, uterine, and prostate cancers.
Estrogen dominance in both men and women is dramatically increased in iodine-deficient hypothyroid states and appears to be a significant risk factor in the development of hormone-related cancers. The incidence of these cancers and others such as stomach, lung, esophagus, thyroid, and throat cancers are markedly increased in iodine-deficient patients.
Goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency, has a direct relationship with breast and prostate cancers. Two studies done in Iceland and Japan — populations with high iodine intake — have significantly lower incidences of these diseases compared to other populations.
Finally, iodine helps prevent fibrocystic breast disease and is successfully used in the treatment of fibrocystic diseases such as uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.
Iodine supplementation can reduce the amount of circulating cholesterol naturally by helping to address hormone imbalances and deficiencies — one of the underlying causes of high cholesterol. According to studies, cholesterol is a precursor to sex steroidal and adrenal hormones.
Adequate iodine can help prevent or alleviate symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, starting with the hallmark hypothyroidism. Clinical studies show a direct correlation between iodine deficiency and the cascade of other diseases related to Metabolic Syndrome such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Iodine is used regularly in the medical industry due to its natural and powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties. It also destroys pathogens and malaria on contact and is beneficial for preventing urinary tract infections and treating H. pylori — a bacterial infection of the stomach that has been connected with ulcers and gastric cancer.
Fetal and Childhood Development
The percentage of pregnant women with iodine deficiency increased by a shocking 690% in the decades between two important medical research studies, the NHANES I (1974) and NHANES II (2000) studies. Low maternal iodine levels in fetal development has been associated with higher levels of cretinism, mental retardation, autism, ADD, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), ALS, and other Myelin disorders. It has been shown that women with higher iodine levels during pregnancy had a decrease in SIDS, an overall higher childhood survival rate, and benefit from a reduced occurrence of high blood pressure.
While helping to support proper fetal development and growth, including speech and hearing development, iodine also helps make children smarter. A study has shown that iodine deficient pregnancies can result in up to a 15-point reduction in children’s IQ.
Iodine’s ability to promote healthy hormone balance makes it an important part of infertility treatment in both men and women. It is also used in the prevention and treatment of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts.
Heavy Metal and Halide Detoxification
Iodine competes against halides such as fluoride (water & toothpaste), chlorine (water), and bromine (bread preservatives and flame retardants) for absorption. Adequate iodine levels therefore reduce halide toxicity in the body by filling binding sites on cells and hormones. For example, when halides like bromine bind with thyroid hormones, it results in inactive hormones. This is often seen in lab tests with “normal” thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroid symptoms. Similarly, iodine helps prevent lead and other metals from being stored in the body.
Iodine effectively helps prevent the effects of radiation exposure from the use of cell phones and other frequency emitters. Normal iodine levels can protect the thyroid and the rest of the body from radioactivity generated by nuclear accidents, such as the radiation drift from the Fukushima disaster that crossed the Pacific and is now being detected on the U.S. mainland.
Nails, Hair, and Teeth
Iodine is essential in the formation of healthy skin, hair, and teeth. In fact, iodine deficiency results in hair loss (also due to thyroid deficiencies), while adequate intake supports hair growth and follicle strength.
Each and every day, most of us are exposed to environmental conditions that interfere with our ability to absorb and utilize iodine. Specifically, the chlorine and fluorine in the water from our faucets and in our swimming pools, and the bromine in bakery products and the flame retardants in furniture. They all compete with iodine in the body.
On the periodic table of elements, there is a group called halogens which includes iodine, fluorine, chlorine, and bromine. Iodine is found lower on this table compared to the others, meaning it is much less reactive, has difficulty competing with the more reactive elements, and often ends up being displaced. Fluorine, chlorine, and bromine are all more electronegative than iodine, so they saturate the binding sites within our bodies.
When these more reactive halogens bind with thyroid hormones, the hormones cannot function as they normally would when bound to iodine, and this creates a state of thyroid deficiency called secondary hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism then leads to many serious health issues, including obesity.
Fortunately, iodine supplementation will increase urinary excretion of fluoride, chlorine, and bromide and reduced exposure to these environmental toxins can go a long way in supporting health and wellness.
At Mother Earth Labs, we understand the importance of adequate iodine intake and recognize that it is not as simple as just taking something like kelp. This is why we use the well-known and trusted Lugol’s Solution to provide a balanced ratio of iodine and potassium iodide.
Various tissues and organs are designed to concentrate large amounts that are necessary for their normal structure and function, with different areas needing different forms. For example, the breast and prostate prefer iodine, while thyroid tissue prefers iodide.
If you think you may have an iodine deficiency or could otherwise benefit from iodine supplementation, discuss Mother Earth Labs’ Lugol’s Iodine with your health care practitioner and get started on your path to better health!
**Based on clinical findings and national studies (NHANES I, 1974, AND NHANES II, 2000) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed to assess the ongoing health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S. Experts – Drs. Abraham, Brownstein, and Flechas – tested iodine levels in over 35,000 patients.