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General Health Article

Iodine - A Comprehensive Exploration of a Vital Nutrient

There is one super nutrient that has the ability to break up congestion in arteries, jumpstart a lagging endocrine system, and even protect people of all ages from the destructive health consequences of nuclear radiation.  That nutrient is iodine, a chemical element that occurs abundantly in nature. 

Doctors and natural health providers have praised the vital role iodine plays in promoting proper physical function and wellbeing for centuries, however its role in health is largely unappreciated by the general public.  As natural health author Barbara Minton wrote, “Iodine may just be the most overlooked mineral, yet its importance to overall health and well being cannot be overstated.”

Renowned natural health physician Dr. David Brownstein has stated that if he had only one natural item to use for treatment on patients it would be iodine, a nutrient he believes “stands head and shoulders above the rest.”  He writes, “In all my years of practicing medicine, I have yet to see one item provide such miraculous effects on the body as iodine does.”

Iodine is an integral element in the optimal functioning of almost every vital system in the body.  It naturally protects against infection, supports metabolic function, and acts as an antioxidant to protect tissue from cancer.  The presence of adequate amounts of iodine in the body can improve cognitive function, increase energy, and ensure babies are born without defects or compromised intelligence.

In spite of its vital role, billions of people around the world, from America to China, suffer from iodine deficiency, a condition that unfortunately causes a host of undesirable and dangerous side effects.  While deficiencies can be caused due to a lack of iodine rich resources, they are most commonly caused by a lack of awareness of this essential nutrient.  

To combat this ignorance on such an important nutrient, Health911 has compiled a comprehensive guide to the powerful element that is iodine.  This document contains the following information related to iodine:

  • Physical Properties and Characteristics
  • History
  • Role in the Human Body
  • Daily Requirements and Usable Forms
  • Identifying Iodine Deficiency
  • Consequences of Iodine Deficiency
  • Applications as a Natural Remedy

Note: Health911 presents the following information for educational purposes only and does not claim it is a replacement for the recommendations of a trained professional.  Before you start or stop any form of supplementation or medication, check with your health care provider.

Physical Properties and Characteristics

Iodine (atomic number 53) is classified as a chemical element.  In the periodic table of elements, iodine is considered to be a halogen.  Like other members of the halogen group, such as fluorine and bromine, iodine is found throughout nature.  It exists most commonly in ionic form or as a compound, and is a fundamental part of minerals, soil, plants, sea vegetation, and mammals.  It is most abundantly found in the form of iodide, a component of seawater.

Iodine can occur in solid or gas form.  Its most natural form is as a solid, which is best described as glossy charcoal colored crystals.  At high temperatures, iodine phases into a purple-pink gas that has a pungent odor.  A pure liquid form of iodine can be procured through a delicate heating and protraction process, however more commonly liquid iodine is made by dissolving the solid crystals into a liquid base.  Common bases for creating liquid iodine include chloroform and ethanol.  Iodine may be dissolved in water, however it typically requires the assistance of another element like potassium to reach optimal dissolution levels.  Characteristics of liquid iodine vary greatly depending on the base used, with colors ranging from deep red to orange to brown.

History

Iodine was accidentally discovered as an element in 1811 by French chemist Bernard Courtois while he was trying to isolate sodium carbonate found in seaweed. At first, Courtois and his colleagues believed iodine to be a compound similar to oxygen, however English scientist Humphrey Davy discovered the unknown substance to have physical properties that resembled chlorine.  It was officially cited as a new element by both Imperial Institute of France and the Royal Society of London in 1813, and named iodine from the Greek word for purple: “iodes.”    

After its discovery, it was first used in medicine by Jean Francois Coindet who found it effective in reducing the visibility of goiters.  However, it wasn’t until a hundred years later that it found widespread use as a treatment for hypothyroidism.  Dr. David Marine, an American scientist, administered the first official study on the effects of iodine on goiters in humans in 1917.  He tested iodine on over 2,000 school age girls in the Great Lakes region who suffered from a goiter, and the overwhelming positive results of the study lead to the utilization of iodized salt in 1924.

Role in the Human Body

Iodine plays a key role in the proper functioning of the human body.  It is used by the thyroid gland, a member of the endocrine system responsible for regulating metabolic function, protein synthesis, and hormone production throughout the body.  The thyroid absorbs iodine from the bloodstream and uses it as an essential building block for the production of its two hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triodothyronine (T3). The amount of T4 and T3 produced is directly related to the amount of iodine in the bloodstream, and a lack or surplus of iodine has been linked to the development of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Click here to read more about iodine and thyroid disorders

In addition to being absorbed by the thyroid to produce hormones, iodine is also integral to basic thyroid function as it prevents several other harmful halogen chemicals, like fluoride and bromine, from accumulating and attaching to the gland. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD notes that iodine and other halogens, while all chemically similar, “can act as competitive inhibitors to each other.”

While most well known for its involvement in the thyroid, actually 70% of the body’s iodine supply is found elsewhere, such as the eyes, thymus, salivary glands, intestinal lining, breast tissue, and cervical lining.  Only around 3% of iodine in the body is actually used by the thyroid.  However, while the medical community is clear about how the thyroid uses iodine, it has yet to identify the role iodine plays in these other tissues. There is some speculation among healthcare practitioners that it acts as an antioxidant in some of the most fragile and free-radical prone tissues in the body.  Another theory is that the iodine located in breast tissue is meant to be transported to infants during lactation to aid in their cognitive development, however these theories are as yet unproven. 

Iodine also contributes to the regulation of estrogen; when there is an inadequate amount of iodine in the body, estrogen levels dramatically increase. Dr. Dave Derry, breast health specialist, states that “iodine enables the excess cells [in the breasts] to be cleared out,” essentially flushing out excess estrogen as well as withering and dead milk gland cells. 

Iodine also plays a vital role in the proper immune functions of the body.  One natural remedy specialist called it a “potent germ killer” both in terms of the way it functions in the thyroid and its presence in the thymus.  The body’s entire supply of blood passes through the thyroid three times per hour, including malignant entities like bacteria, pathogens, and other harmful agents.  As the blood passes through the thyroid, the iodine molecules neutralize those harmful particles and break them up until they are rendered ineffective.  Additionally, iodine is found in notable levels in the thymus, the central gland of the immune system, indicating iodine is essential for the production of mature white blood cells.

Daily Requirements and Usable Forms

According to the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine, the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine in adults is 150 mcg.  Pregnant women and lactating mothers have higher RDAs of 220 mcg and 290 mcg respectively. The upper tolerance level for iodine established by the National Institutes of Health is 1,100 mcg daily.

However, among some alternative health specialists, this RDA is low and does not provide the body enough iodine to support optimal function.  Mike Adams, editor of Natural News online magazine, suggests that “conventional medicine’s recommendation of iodine intake may be off by a factor of ten!”

There are a variety of ways a person can get their RDA of iodine, including food, supplements, and skin applications.  However, it should be noted that the inclusion of any iodine supplementation should be done under the supervision of a health care professional, as an overdose of iodine can lead to an overactive thyroid.  Symptoms to be vigilant for include: insomnia, unexplained weight loss, increase in thirst and appetite, irritability, intolerance to heat, and unnaturally elevated mood.

Food

The primary way for the human body to get the iodine it needs to function properly is by eating foods that contain the nutrient.  Today, the most common way an individual gets iodine is through iodized salt. In 1924, Morton Salt Company became the first to add iodine into its table salt as a way to combat the growing incidence of iodine deficiency in the United States.  However, as awareness of the dangers of too much sodium in the diet grows, many people are turning away from iodized salt and becoming at risk again for iodine deficiency.

Luckily, iodine also naturally occurs in a variety of easily accessible foods.  The most naturally iodine rich food is kelp, a form of sea vegetation.  Iodine found in kelp is present in the form of potassium iodide.  However, yogurt, eggs, strawberries, garlic, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, and cow milk also contain worthwhile amounts of iodine.  Fish, particularly shellfish like shrimp, crabs, and lobster, can also contain good levels of iodine, however the amount can vary drastically depending on the iodine content of the waters they lived in. 

Supplements  

Humans can also get their recommended amounts of iodine through supplemental forms.  One of the most popular supplemental iodine brands is the Formula II Iosol Iodine, a liquid supplement that contains 153 mcg of iodine in each teaspoon.  Lugol’s Iodine liquid supplement, containing 130 mcg of iodine, is considered equally effective.  These liquid supplements can be incorporated daily into your diet through liquid supplements added to water or juice.

Another type of iodine supplement is kelp tablets. These vitamin-like supplements are meant to be taken several times daily and are made from crushed kelp plant.  Dr. Joseph M. Kadans, author of the Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds, wrote that “Kelp…is the richest source of organic iodine.”  According to the George Mateljan Foundation, a non-profit health advocacy group, one serving of kelp has 276.7% of an individual’s daily required value for iodine. 

Iodine Tinctures

Iodine is also sold in tincture form to be used for anti-septic care.  Iodine tinctures are sold over the counter and are meant for use on the skin to disinfect cuts and keep wounds clean.  Some medical professionals have noted that painting a small patch of iodine tincture on the skin can be an effective way to get iodine into the body as it will be absorbed into the bloodstream, however this method is considered inefficient compared to other means of getting iodine.

Note: Iodine tincture solutions that are made for anti-septic care should not, under any circumstances, be ingested as they can be extremely poisonous.  Only iodine supplements that include specific instructions on the manner of consumption should be ingested.

Identifying an Iodine Deficiency

Over two billion people across the world suffer from iodine deficiency, many of whom are surprisingly located in developing and first world countries.  There are several parts of the world where iodine deficiency is considered epidemic due to a lack of access to food that is rich in the element.  These areas tend to be landlocked with arid climates, such as sub-Saharan Africa, India, Russia, and China. 

At-Risk Populations

Dr. Todd Nippoldt of the Mayo Clinic states that iodine deficiency is rare in Western countries due to the fact that iodized salt typically provides as much iodine as the body needs.  However, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD claims that iodine intake in the United States has “dropped by 50% from 1971 to 2001 and continues to drop.”  Dr. Teitelbaum cites the replacement of iodine with bromine in wheat products as one major cause. Furthermore, Dr. David Brownstein notes that only 10% of iodine found in salt is bioavailable (usable by the body), a fact that makes the amount of iodine actually ingested in salt significantly lower than commonly assumed.

Natural health writer Barbara Minton notes, “Adequate intake of iodine was once a recognized problem that was solved by adding small amounts of it in the processing of table salt.  Once this was done, the obvious symptoms of severe iodine deficiency disappeared from view, and little further thought was given to the matter, though sub-clinical symptoms remained.”  Minton also mentions the popular shift away from iodized salt to sea salt has decreased Western intake of iodine significantly.  A perfect example of her statements is that in spite of its national wealth and access to iodine rich foods, Germany also has a significant iodine deficient population.  

Iodine deficiency is also common in individuals who eat large amounts of certain foods that have been shown to block the thyroid’s ability to absorb the nutrient.  These foods are known as goitrogens, and include cabbage, peaches, kale, pears, broccoli, and spinach.  Populations who eat significant amounts of these items are at risk for insufficient amounts of iodine and should have their levels checked.

Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Sub-clinical and early stage iodine deficiencies are characterized by distinctive symptoms of low thyroid function, including depression, weight gain, low basal body temperature, intolerance to cold, constipation, fatigue, and the visible enlarging of the thyroid gland known as a goiter.  These symptoms are quickly corrected when iodine is added into the diet.

However, untreated iodine deficiency and its effect on the production of thyroid hormone can over time lead to the development of more serious and chronic conditions.  In his 2008 Alternate Medicine Digest article entitled, “Reviving the Thyroid,” Richard Leviton noted that a “dysfunctional thyroid can produce serious health problems in the body's organs and physiological processes, such as cholesterol levels that are too high or too low, chronic infections and weight fluctuations.”

Iodine Deficiency Tests

To check if you have an iodine deficiency, simply paint a small tincture of iodine onto the skin of your abdomen and keep an eye on it for 24 hours. If the painted area disappears before 24 hours are up, it can signify an iodine deficiency as your body absorbs it as quickly as possible. However, if the painted space remains visible on your skin for over 24 hours an iodine supplement is unnecessary.

Another way to effectively test for iodine deficiency is to perform an at-home urine test.  Unused iodine is excreted form the body in liquid waste.  Several companies offer test kits that allow you to take a urine sample and send it to their laboratories for inexpensive analysis of iodine levels

Consequences of Iodine Deficiency

Due to its vital role in thyroid function and natural presence throughout body tissue, it is no surprise that when an individual becomes deficient in iodine there can be serious physical consequences.

Effect on Infants and Children

One cruel example of the consequences of chronic iodine deficiency is that it causes permanent mental retardation in children and infants. A study completed at Johns Hopkins University reported that babies born to women with low thyroid function are more likely to have cleft lips or palates, additional appendages or digits, or brain, kidney, and heart defects.  Fetuses that do not receive enough iodine while in the womb are at greater risk for being born with already compromised intellectual or mental function.

Coronary Conditions

Coronary conditions, such as coronary artery disease, arterial fibrillation, and congestive heart failure, are some of the most dangerous companion conditions associated with thyroid dysfunction due to iodine deficiency.  Hypothyroid individuals are at high risk for developing coronary artery disease because of their increased levels of LDL cholesterol. Also known as heart disease, coronary artery disease occurs when plaque builds up on the walls of arteries and effectively shrinks their diameter to restrict blood flow.  If left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack.

The relationship between hypothyroidism and coronary artery disease was first noted by thyroid research pioneer Dr. Broda Barnes.  Dr. Barnes studied the autopsy records of patients in an Austrian city between 1930 and 1970 and reported that deaths due to heart attack rose more than 1,000% across the years of the study.  He notes that before antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s, the most common cause of death was infection, however in the 1950s and 1960s deaths from heart attack rose dramatically because people were living longer and plaque had more time to build up in the arteries.  Dr. Barnes reported that most of the individuals who died from heart attacks also showed evidence of being hypothyroid, creating a positive correlation between the two conditions.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Another condition that is directly caused by hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition that occurs when an individual experiences serious exhaustion that is not alleviated by rest and sleep.  The Center for Disease Control has identified unexplained and persistent fatigue, impairment of short term memory, sore throat, inability to concentrate, muscle and joint pain, swollen axillary or cervical nodes, chronic headaches, and a disruption of occupational or social activities as the clinical quantifiers of the condition. Dr. John Lowe states that, “the most common cause of fatigue is inadequate hormone regulation of cell function,” which is the direct result of an inadequate amount of T4 and T3 in the bloodstream.

Sexual Dysfunction

There are a host of sexual dysfunctions which are common among individuals with chronic iodine deficiency.  Both men and women note a marked decrease in their ability to become both physically and mentally excited.  Women who are iodine deficient can experience a wide range of reproductive conditions as a result, with infertility as one of the most common issues.  The Mayo Clinic notes that as metabolic function decreases due to low thyroid hormone production, ovulation may slow down or completely stop.  Additionally, the uterine lining will not fully develop each month, reducing the chances that a fertilized egg will attach and commence a pregnancy. 

Women who are iodine deficient are also at greater risk for experiencing miscarriages, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian fibroids, cystic ovaries, and stronger PMS and menopausal symptoms as the result of their condition due to irregular estrogen dominance.

Cancer

Breast cancer is another known result of a diet chronically deficient in iodine.  Unlike some other conditions associated with iodine deficiency, breast cancer is not the result of low thyroid function but simply the lack of iodine in the breast tissue.  Iodine in the breast tissue has been shown to prevent cancer development due to its regulation of estrogen and work as an antioxidant.  When there is not enough iodine present in the tissue, free radical and malignant cell growth is fueled by the unregulated estrogen.  There has also been initial research to suggest a link between iodine deficiency and stomach cancer.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD notes that the United States has three times the amount of breast cancer as Japan, and the largest difference in these two first world countries is that Japan consumes significantly higher levels of iodine.  

Applications as a Natural Remedy

Iodine has long been heralded as a natural remedy by alternative therapy specialists for a variety of health conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infections, and radiation exposure. 

Hypothyroidism 

Iodine has been shown to be very effective in treating or supporting treatment for individuals suffering from hypothyroidism.  In addition to encouraging patients to consume iodine rich foods, natural remedy specialists often encourage the incorporation of liquid supplements or tablets into the daily diet. 

Formula II Iosol Iodine is often one of the most heartily endorsed brands by alternative therapists. This supplement is made by extracting the iodine crystals from the potassium molecules found in kelp, yielding pure iodine which is combined with a water soluble base.  As health expert Byron Richards notes, this creates an “iodine supplement with high bioavailability,” meaning it is effectively used by the body.

Natural Remedy specialist Dr. David Williams notes that Iosol “helps promote energy by reducing fatigue and inability to concentrate.”  Several drops of Iosol can be added to water and taken daily to help remedy the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  Lugol’s Iodine liquid supplement is considered equally effective has received similar praise from users who claim it is “life changing.”

Dr. Jonathan Wright advises hypothyroid patients incorporate several kelp tablets into their daily regimen as staple elements.  From his experience, kelp as a source of iodine is an effective way to assist other remedies, such as natural thyroid supplements, as well as help regulate some of the common side effects of hypothyroidism like upset menstrual cycles and chronic fatigue. He recommends Icelandic kelp tablets, which each contain 225 mcg of iodine. 

Alan Keith Tillotson, Ph. D, reported that “T4 levels often increase slightly with 6 kelp tablets once a day at lunch…[they] are also natural sources of iodine and can serve as beneficial dietary additions in cases of hypothyroidism.”  However, Tillotson notes that intake of kelp tablets while taking prescription thyroid medication should be done carefully and under medical supervision as the drastic increase in iodine can “interfere with thyroid tests and can even lead to hyperthyroidism or a goiter.”

Atherosclerosis

There have been some reports that utilizing daily iodine supplements can help clear clogged arteries due to atherosclerosis.  Dr. Jonathan Wright notes that atherosclerosis occurs when “the body’s arteries are blocked by a buildup of cholesterol. Potassium iodide has the ability to dissolve oils, fats, and waxes like cholesterol. I usually recommend four to six drops [combined with] a niacin containing b-complex vitamin.”

Alternative to Antibiotics

Most alternative therapists praise iodine for its ability to effectively replace antibiotics in the fight against infection.  Mark Sircus, OMD, has stated that “eventually antibiotics are going to be seen as one of the worst things to ever come out of pharmaceutical science because in the end, they have made us only weaker in the face of ever increasingly strong super bugs that are resistant to all the antibiotics doctors have at their disposal.”  Sircus points to the persistence of breast cancer, autism, and pneumonia as being directly related to the ongoing use and abuse of antibiotics.

He cites iodine, however, as a “potent replacement for much of the antibiotics that are literally destroying people’s lives.”  Iodine tinctures have been used as anti-septic agents for decades, as they have the ability to destroy almost all harmful bacteria and virus cells within two minutes of application on the skin. Sircus notes that iodine has the ability to destroy all types of harmful agents, ranging from bacteria to mold to viruses to yeast. Dr. David Derry has stated “iodine is by far the best antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-septic of all time.”

Sircus and Derry note that high doses of ingested liquid iodine (15 or more drops daily) combined with a topical application on open sores is the best remedy for any type of infection. 

Hyperthyroidism

A special radioactive isotope of iodine is also used very effectively in the treatment of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) as an alternative to invasive surgery.  Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism can be just as dangerous as pervasive hypothyroidism, leading to serious coronary events, stroke, and death.  If a patient’s symptoms and hormone levels are not adequately controlled through anti-thyroid medication, endocrinologists may suggest all or part of the gland be removed through radioactive iodine treatment. 

The treatment works to reduce the size of or eliminate the thyroid by killing the cells of the gland through an ingested dose of radioactive iodine.  As the thyroid is the only gland in the body that absorbs iodine, and when it absorbs radioactive iodine it brings the radiation into the gland where it destroys cells from the inside out, effectively burning off all or part of the gland over the period of one to two months.  The amount of gland affected can be determined by how much iodine is ingested.  Most patients see the desired results after one dose of the chemical, however two or more doses may be administered if necessary. 

This procedure is most often chosen because it provides little to no damage to any other part of the body and may be done as an outpatient procedure.  After an individual ingests a dose of radioactive iodine they must have little to no contact with others due to the fact that they are radioactive; however, this self-enforced quarantine only needs to last for a few days post-treatment.  

While the ease and safety of the procedure is certainly a pro, the con of radioactive iodine treatment is that it is an inexact science.  The amount of the dose is an educated guess on the part of the endocrinologist based on laboratory results for iodine uptake, and it is unknown how much of the thyroid will be destroyed until after two months have passed.  The result is that many hyperthyroid patients who undergo the treatment end up with a smaller than normal thyroid gland or no thyroid gland, making them hypothyroid and dependent on synthetic thyroid hormone for life.

There is no indication that ingesting radioactive iodine increases an individual’s risk for developing thyroid cancer nor any other form of cancer.  Furthermore, radioactive iodine will not compromise the ability of a woman to bear healthy children after the treatment. 

Treatment for Fibrocystic Breasts

Fibrocystic breast disease is a condition that occurs due to changes in a woman’s hormone levels at the peak of her menstrual cycle. Fibrocystic breasts are very common among women of childbearing years. Symptoms of fibrocystic breasts can vary from woman to woman, however the most common symptom is the formation of non-cancerous lumps typically located on the upper breast or outer side of the breast up to the armpit. These lumps, individually referred to as “fibroids,” become noticeable a week before a woman’s period is due to start, and typically subside as soon as bleeding begins. In addition to the development or swelling of fibroids, a woman may notice that the texture and consistency of all of her breast tissue changes and her breasts become tender, sore, or feel “swollen.” While changes in breast tissue are alarming, fibrocystic breast disease is not a form of cancer or a precursor to cancer. It is estimated to occur in up to 80% of women.

Iodine is a commonly recommended treatment for fibrocystic breasts because it is very effective in treating fibroids. Dr. Dave Derry suggests that a lack of iodine in the body can lead to the development of fibrocystic breasts.

Naturopath Tori Hudson recommends supplemental iodine for the treatment of fibrocystic breasts, and suggests utilizing a liquid brand, like Lugols, that can be purchased over the counter at alternative health stores. Iodine can reduce the body’s sensitivity to estrogen and can, as health writer Julia Tolliver Maranan notes, “actually shrink the dense connective tissue, usually within three months.”

Dr. Jonathan Wright also suggests iodine for the treatment of fibrocystic breasts, recommending that mild to moderate cases ingest both iodine and magnesium supplements.  For more severe cases, where the discomfort is interfering with daily functioning, he advises swabbing the interior of the vagina with iodine and then following it immediately by an IV injection of magnesium. He writes, “The iodine needs to be placed as close to the ovaries as possible to get the best results.” Dr. Wright asserts that within 60 minutes you can feel the difference in the texture and consistency of breast tissue.

The iodine formula that Dr. Wright recommends to his patients is called SSKI, a combination supplement of both iodine and potassium. He suggests taking eight drops of the formula daily in a glass of water or milk; however he recommends when using this product that a close eye is kept on thyroid hormone levels as iodine can disrupt normal function. Dr. Wright states that he has seen this treatment show results after two to five months.

Treatment for Estrogen Dominance

Iodine is also used for the treatment of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is a physical state that occurs when there is too much estrogen or too little progesterone in the blood. Estrogen is arguably the most essential hormone involved in all elements of creating, supporting, birthing, and then sustaining a baby. In addition to running the menstrual cycle, estrogen is also key for preparing the body for pregnancy and initiating the lactation process. It also serves important functions outside of the reproductive cycle, including reducing calcium loss, maintaining a clear complexion, providing energy, and clearing cholesterol blockages from the coronary arteries.

Progesterone, another key female hormone, works in tandem with estrogen in the reproductive process; its basic role is to provide a natural partner and counterbalance to estrogen. In addition to promoting emotional balance, progesterone counteracts the effects of estrogen in many ways, such as reducing water retention and assisting in the proper processing of alcohol, sugar, and high fat foods.  When progesterone levels are too low, the effects of estrogen become more pronounced. 

Estrogen dominance has been linked not only to the development of fibrocystic breasts but also to the development of breast cancer. It can also cause water retention, weight gain (as it affects the body’s ability to process fat), uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and cervical dysplasia. Some indications of too much estrogen in the body include insomnia, tremors, sensitive skin, short term memory problems, heavy menstrual period symptoms, and severe PMS.

Iodine is involved in the regulation of estrogen production; studies have shown that when there is a lack of iodine in the body estrogen production spikes. When someone is estrogen dominant, adding more iodine into the body, through topical application, liquid supplements, or increasing foods that are rich in iodine, can help naturally correct the problem and reduce the potentially dangerous effects of estrogen dominance. Switching to iodized salt from un-iodized salt can also contribute to maintaining normal estrogen levels; however, it is important to monitor salt consumption as too much can negatively affect the body and lead to dehydration.  

Treatment for Radiation Exposure

Studies done over the past forty years have identified potassium iodide, a chemical compound similar to iodized salt, as an effective and natural treatment for individuals exposed to types of nuclear radiation that involve radioactive iodine. The potassium iodide works to block the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine when taken in the proper dose (which varies by age) within 4 hours after exposure.

In addition to laboratory and controlled tests, potassium iodide was proven successful in reducing the incidence of thyroid cancer in children and adults affected by the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor.  Because of its effectiveness, it has been embraced by the World Health Organization and the United States Department of Homeland Security as a reliable response to a nuclear emergency.

However, it is important to note that potassium iodide is not considered a magic shield when it comes to radiation poisoning. Health officials have stated that it is only effective for reducing the risk of thyroid cancer and does not protect against other potentially life threatening results of radiation exposure.  It is also only effective against radioactive iodine exposure, and does not protect against the effects of other nuclear material such as that used to make “dirty bombs.”

Conclusion

In order to enjoy lasting and total health, the complex and diverse role iodine plays in the proper functioning of the body cannot be underestimated.  Iodine has the unique ability to positively affect an individual’s health immediately while laying the foundation for long term health by not only assisting thyroid function but also fighting off insidious infection and malignant cell growth.  Iodine is the key element in physical and mental development, and just a few micrograms a day can make the difference between a long life and short one, a healthy baby and a permanently challenged one.

While the consequences of iodine deficiency are intimidating to say the least, the positive news is that iodine deficiencies are easy to correct.  Furthermore, many of the negative consequences of iodine deficiency can be rectified simply by rebalancing the proper amount of the nutrient in the body.

If you are concerned you are not getting enough iodine in your daily diet, we here at Health911 encourage you to contact your doctor or natural remedy specialist immediately to figure out the best dosage and type of supplement you can take to improve the quality of your life. 

Because now that you know about the incredible and broad responsibilities iodine plays in your health, you can’t afford to not get enough!

Sources and Additional Resources

Books

  • Brownstein, David. Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It. Medical Alternative Press, 2009.

 

  • Derry, David. Breast Cancer and Iodine: How to Prevent and How to Survive Breast Cancer. Trafford Publishing, 2001.

Articles

  • Brownstein, David. “Iodine, the Most Misunderstood Nutrient.” Natural Way to Health July, 2008.
  • Laredo, Mary. “Iodine Deficiency and Its Link to Diseases in the Body.” Natural News February 2007.
  • VanZile, Jon. “Potassium iodide: Protecting Yourself in a Nuclear Emergency.” Life Extension December, 2004.

Organizations

 
Recommended Products

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Disclaimer: Health911 Media, Inc., Health911.com, and any emails you receive from this website, provides health, fitness and nutritional information. This information is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem, condition or disease, or use it as a substitute for any medication or other treatment therapy. The statements provided with any product on this web site have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Some of the health imagery courtesy of Wikipedia.