Many people have an iodine deficiency, yet most people who are deficient in iodine are unaware of this. I’m a perfect example, as while I found out I was iodine deficient after I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I had no idea I was deficient in iodine before I was diagnosed. And while an iodine deficiency alone usually won’t directly cause Graves Disease or any other autoimmune thyroid condition to develop, a deficiency in iodine can definitely contribute to such a condition, and lead to numerous health issues. I’m not going to talk in great detail about iodine itself, as for more information about iodine there’s a great book called “Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”, which was written by Dr. David Brownstein.
I’ve discussed in past posts and articles why many people are deficient in iodine. One reason is because the soils are depleted in iodine, which means the foods we eat don’t contain a sufficient amount of iodine. Also, due to the fear of high blood pressure, many people are avoiding iodized salt, which isn’t a great source of iodine, but in some cases is the only source of iodine people get.
Perhaps the biggest reason why most people are iodine deficient is because the bread dough conditioners are made with bromine, whereas a few decades ago they were made with iodine. A big reason for the switch is because there was a fear that iodine was causing problems with people’s thyroid glands. But not only has this lead to an increase in iodine deficiency, but many people have a bromine toxicity because of this.
Two Primary Methods To Determine If You’re Iodine Deficient
There are two main methods of determining if you have an iodine deficiency:
Iodine Testing Method #1: The Iodine Patch Test. This is the least accurate of the two testing methods. This involves painting a 2 x 2 “patch” of 2% iodine tincture on one’s forearm, and then seeing how long it takes for the patch to disappear. Ideally you don’t want the patch to fade for the first 24 hours. If it does fade or disappear completely in less than 24 hours you’re considered to be iodine deficient. If it fades or disappears in less than 12 hours then the deficiency is severe.
Iodine Testing Method #2: The Iodine Loading Test. This is a more accurate method of determining whether someone has an iodine deficiency. This is a urine test which involves taking a 50mg iodide/iodine tablet (Iodoral) and then measuring how much iodine you excrete over a 24-hour period. The less iodine you excrete, the more deficient you are.
If it is determined that you have an iodine deficiency then you obviously need to address it. Some healthcare professionals will recommend taking large dosages of iodine immediately. I was taught to begin by taking smaller dosages of iodine. And so this is how I addressed my iodine deficiency, as I began by taking a 3mg tablet of iodine daily for the first week, and then each additional week I would increase the dosage until I was taking eight tablets per day. At this point I switched to a different iodine product which came in higher dosages, and this allowed me to take two 12.5mg tablets each day. Eventually I did switch back to the original brand I took, and currently I take 12mg of iodine daily on a maintenance basis.
But how do you know how much iodine to take? After all, not everyone needs to take 25mg each day. Some people require a smaller dosage, while some people will need to take up to 50mg of iodine daily. The best method of finding out how much iodine you need to take is through follow-up testing. So for example, if you initially obtained an iodine loading test and it was determined that you had an iodine deficiency, then you can begin supplementing with iodine, and then two to three months later you can obtain a second test to determine how your levels are at that time. If everything looks good then you can continue taking your current dosage. On the other hand, if it’s showing you’re currently deficient in iodine then you might need to increase the dosage.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, most people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis should not take iodine supplements, as there is a good chance it will flare up your condition. This doesn’t mean people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis aren’t iodine deficient, as many are. But until the autoimmune response is eliminated one shouldn’t take iodine supplements.
So hopefully you understand how to determine whether or not you are iodine deficient. Both the iodine patch test and iodine loading test can be useful, but the iodine loading test is definitely more accurate. However, the iodine patch test is fine to use in order to get a general idea as to whether someone has an iodine deficiency. With regards to follow-up testing, since it’s far less expensive to do an iodine patch test you can do a follow-up test on a regular basis and see if the patch remains longer. Just keep in mind that it takes time to correct an iodine deficiency. As a result, once you begin supplementing with iodine I probably would wait a few months before obtaining a follow-up iodine loading test.