It is no secret that most people are iodine deficient. And as you probably know, iodine is extremely important for the function of the thyroid gland, as it is essential for the formation of thyroid hormone. Many people assume that people with hyperthyroidism have an excess of iodine, while those with a hypothyroid condition have low levels of iodine. The truth is, one can’t make this assumption, as there are many people with hyperthyroidism that are deficient in iodine. Similarly, some people with hypothyroidism have adequate levels of iodine.
Rather than advise someone to take or avoid iodine, the best way to see if someone is iodine deficient is through testing. Here are a couple of tests that can tell whether someone is iodine deficient:
1. Iodine loading urine test. This test involves ingesting 50mg of iodine, and then testing the urine to see how much iodine is excreted during a 24-hour period. If someone has an iodine deficiency, then they should retain a significant amount of the iodine that was ingested.
2. Iodine patch test. This is something you can do on your own, as you can buy a 3% tincture of iodine from your local pharmacy (the orange colored solution), and then paint a 2 x 2 square of the iodine on the inner side of your forearm. According to the test, if the iodine begins to fade or disappears completely within 24 hours, you are iodine deficient. There is some controversy over the accuracy of this test.
While I don’t think the iodine patch test is the best test for diagnosing an iodine deficiency, I think it can be used as a follow up test. For example, you might want to begin by doing both an iodine loading urine test and an iodine patch test. Assuming both tests come out positive and show an iodine deficiency, you can begin an iodine loading protocol (read below if you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) and use the iodine patch test on a monthly basis to see the progress. You of course can also choose to do another urine test after three months as well.
I personally was on an iodine loading protocol when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. So I’m proof that just because you have a hyperthyroid condition does not mean you have a sufficient or excess amount of iodine. The key to a successful iodine loading protocol is to begin slowly, as I took a product called Prolamine Iodine from Standard Process, which is a 3mg iodine tablet. I began taking one tablet each day for week, and then increased the dosage by one tablet every week. How high of a dosage you end up taking depends on how deficient you are, and for most people it is safe to work up to 50mg of iodine per day. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to get up to this high of a dosage, as this of course depends on your level of iodine deficiency. As usual, I would not recommend that you begin an iodine loading protocol on your own, but instead consult with a natural endocrine doctor first.
If you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, you should not begin an iodine loading protocol until you have addressed the immune system component first. Some natural doctors advise people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to completely avoid iodine. They are partially correct on this, as if you put someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis on an iodine loading protocol without first addressing the autoimmune response, they will not respond well. However, many people with Hashimoto’s are iodine deficient. And after strengthening their immune system and eliminating the oxidative response that is going on, most will do well on an iodine loading protocol, assuming they begin slowly.
If you have any questions about iodine and your autoimmune thyroid disorder, and/or would like to see some research that expands on what I have discussed here, I highly recommend that you read the book “Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”. The Author is David Brownstein.