Saturday, April 16, 2011

Iodine for Optimal Health

Iodine for Optimal Health

Optimal Dose of Iodine/Iodide is 12.5 milligrams a day – not 0.150 mg
Iodine is critical for our health and yet it is underused and even incorrectly feared. Former professor of obstetrics, gynecology and endocrinology at UCLA School of Medicine, Guy Abraham, M.D. began research which resulted in a series of papers which came to be known as “The Iodine Project.”   Our new understanding of iodine has some which startling implications for your health.    
The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is the minimal amount of iodine/iodide needed to prevent goiter, hypothyroidism and cretinism - mental retardation due to low thyroid activity. What has been missing from most discussions on iodine is what the optimal dose would be.  Dr. Abraham’s studies revealed that the optimal daily dose is 12.5 milligrams which is almost 100 times the RDA of iodine - 0.150 milligrams (150 micrograms).  At the Hotze Health and Wellness Center we routinely recommend the use 12.5 mg a day by taking 1 tablet of Iodoral, a combination of Iodine and Iodide.  Note: Iodide is preferred by the thyroid gland. Iodine is preferred by the breast, ovary and prostate.  Both iodide and iodine must be replaced but for the sake of simplicity I will simply use iodine to refer to both of these forms.  
A Rats’ Tale: The Origins of Iodo-phobia
Many medical experts incorrectly believe that iodine can block thyroid function and becomes toxic at doses of more than 2 mg a day.  This erroneous conclusion started with a 1948 rat study published by Drs. Wolff and Chaikoff.  If they had limited their incorrect conclusions to rats, the results would not have been too bad (I would not be too upset if rats were iodine deficient). Unfortunately, the Wolff-Chaikoff conclusions were generalized to humans and today medical textbooks repeat these conclusions as though they were based on solid evidence.  Several other studies have looked at iodine and seemed to build on the conventional wisdom that iodine is dangerous.   Later, these studies were also shown to have flaws which have led most who look at the data to conclude iodine supplementation is very safe.  In fact, as discussed below, the Japanese have an intake of 13.8 mg of iodine/iodide a day and experience significantly better health in many important areas such as thyroid function and cancer rates.

Iodine is Essential for Brain Development
Women of childbearing age need to pay particular attention to their intake of iodine.  Iodine deficiency is now accepted as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 30% of the world’s population has insufficient iodine intake.  Iodine deficiency has adverse effects in all stages of development but is most damaging to the developing brain.  In addition to regulating many aspects of growth and development, thyroid hormone is important for myelination of the central nervous system, which is most active before and shortly after birth.  Every year over 100,000 infants are born with cretinism – mental retardation due to low thyroid (hypothyroidism), a problem clearly related to low iodine intake.

School children in iodine-deficient areas show poorer school performance, lower IQs, and a higher incidence of learning disabilities than matched groups from iodine-sufficient areas. A combination of 18 studies (called a meta-analysis) concluded that iodine deficiency alone lowered mean IQ scores in children by 13.5 points.

Iodine and ADD/ADHD/Autism
Areas where iodine intake is lower has been associated with high rates of ADHD and ADD.

Children with autism have been shown to have lower levels of iodine that children without autism.

Hypothyroidism and Goiter
Iodine deficiency is a common cause of goiter in many parts of the world and may result in hypothyroidism.  Adequate iodine intake will generally reduce the size of goiters, but the reversibility of the effects of hypothyroidism depends on an individual's stage of development when treated.

Iodine and Cancer Prevention
Japanese women have the highest iodine intake in the world at 13.8 milligrams a day, mainly from seaweed.  They also have one of the lowest rates of fibrocystic breast disease, breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.  Conversely, Thailand & Mexico have low iodine intake and have high rates of breast cancer and goiter.
Iodine to Resolve Breast and Ovary Cysts
The breast and ovary concentrate iodine and iodine deficiency causes fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) with nodules, cyst enlargement, pain and scar tissue.
Iodine has been shown to resolve fibrocystic breast disease and help ovarian cysts to decrease in size.  

Iodine for Prevention of Autoimmune Disease
When iodine deficiency is present, the thyroid enzymes called peroxidases damage the thyroid gland and can cause autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease.  When iodine is replaced, the peroxidase injury in hyperthyroidism stops and hyperthyroidism  can return to normal. 

Iodine for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
Lipoprotein (a) is sticky substance in the blood which when created in excess can cause plaques in arteries. Excessive clotting and vascular disease resulting from high levels of lipoprotein (a) can be reversed by iodine treatment.

Determining if a Person is Iodine Sufficient and Treatment Dosages
If you are not taking iodine supplements or eating iodine rich foods such as kelp or seafood, you are very likely to be among the 95% of adults who are deficient.  If needed, the status of iodine can be determined by urine testing.  A loading dose of 4 – 12.5 mg Iodoral tablets are taken (50 mg of iodine/iodide) and for the next 24 hours all the urine is collected.  If less than 90% (45 mg of the iodine) is excreted, the person is considered iodine deficient (i.e. the less iodine you have in your body, the more your body will hold onto iodine instead of it passing through in the urine).  By the way, the fact that iodine is excreted when the body has enough highlights the safety of iodine, if you do not need it, it passes through you.

Iodine Use is Inhibited by Fluoride, Bromide and Chlorine
Instead of addressing the need for more iodine, we are adding iodine blocking compounds such as fluoride, bromide and chlorine.  Chlorine and fluoride are added to city water supplies and bromide is added to most baked products such as bread.  Bromides are present in many processed foods and beverages (especially Mountain Dew).           
Iodine Supplementation Allows Detoxification of Fluoride and Bromide
David Brownstein, M.D. and Jonathan V. Wright, M.D have noted that iodine helps remove toxic elements such as bromide and fluoride.  As is generally seen with detoxification, the mobilization of toxic substances can cause temporary side effects such as rash, fatigue or irritability all of which can be resolved by decreasing the dosage of iodine.
People are using less of our main source of iodine: Iodized Salt
Americans are getting less iodine than ever.  We have replaced iodine in bread with iodine, less iodine rich seafood and using less iodized salt.  Note that most sea salt does not contain iodine; however, iodized sea salt is available. The nutritional survey known as NHANES I and III demonstrated that the average iodine levels in the US have declined more than 50% during the 20 year period from 1971-1974 to 1988-1994.
Are You Low On Iodine?
Unless you are eating a lot of seaweed, kelp, seafood or taking Iodoral or other iodine/iodide supplements, you are almost certainly low. 

Dr. Brownstein has found 95% of those tested are low in iodine

Starting Iodine
While very safe, iodine supplements like Iodoral should be done with medical supervision.  I often recommend our guests at the Hotze Health and Wellness Center start with one 12.5 mg tablet of Iodoral, available at Physicians Preference  The dose should be reduced if any detoxification symptoms occur.  Detoxification symptoms include irritability, acne-like skin lesions, headache, an unpleasant metal taste or increased salivation and sneezing.

Iodoral may decrease the need for thyroid hormone supplementation. Watch for signs of too much thyroid such as feeling your heart beating hard or fast, anxiety, increased sweating, being short of breath of not tolerating heat. 

Selenium is required to use iodine/iodide, 200 mcg of selenium a day ensures adequate selenium for use of iodine.

Dr. Abraham found iodine deficiency takes a year to resolve when 12.5 mg a day is used and 3 months when 50 mg a day is used.  For this reason, those with severe deficiency issues may best respond when treated with 4 tablets a day for 3 months and then reduce to 1- 12.5 mg tablet a day.

For children who cannot swallow a tablet, some liquid preparations such as Liquid Iodine Forte from Biotics Research may be helpful.  Each drop contains 150 mcg (0.15 mg) of potassium iodide.  A drop a day would cover the RDA and would be a reasonable minimum for most children.  Use of iodized sea salt is also helpful. The optimal dose in children has not been determined but is certainly higher than the RDA for children listed below:

RDA for Children

1–3 years
90 μg/day of iodine
4–8 years
90 μg/day of iodine
RDA for Boys

9–13 years
120 μg/day of iodine
14–18 years
150 μg/day of iodine
RDA for Girls

9–13 years
120 μg/day of iodine
14–18 years
150 μg/day of iodine

Iodine Allergy?
An allergy to iodine itself is rare. A reaction to intravenous contrast dye or shellfish is not the same as an allergy to elemental iodine/iodide.   The allergy is actually to the organic molecule which includes iodine bound to something else.  An allergy to elemental iodine/iodide is extremely unlikely.  If you do not have a problem with iodized salt, you are not allergic to elemental iodine and iodine supplements.   If you are avoiding iodine supplements due to a history of a reaction to shellfish or contrast dye, you should discuss this with your doctor before starting Iodoral

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