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Iodine Deficiency & Thyroid Health

Millions of people have thyroid conditions, and many of these people also have an iodine deficiency.  Correcting this iodine deficiency is important for anyone who wants to use natural thyroid treatment methods to restore their health back to normal.  Some people believe that only those who have hypothyroidism have an iodine deficiency, and that people with hyperthyroidism have an excess of iodine.  While some people with hyperthyroidism do have an excess of iodine, one can’t make this assumption with every person who has a hyperthyroid condition.  The only surefire way to know for sure whether someone has an iodine deficiency is through testing, which I will describe shortly.

But why is iodine important when it comes to thyroid health?  The main reason is because iodine is important in the formation of thyroid hormone.  So a deficiency in iodine can lead to a deficiency in thyroid hormone, which is why many assume that someone with hyperthyroidism can’t have an iodine deficiency, which simply isn’t true.  In any case, in order to restore thyroid health, one needs to detect and then correct such a deficiency.  This of course isn’t to suggest that an iodine deficiency alone is responsible for a thyroid condition, but it can be a big factor.

Why Are Most People Iodine Deficient?

You might wonder why most people are iodine deficient.  There are a few different reasons for this.  First of all, due to poor farming techniques, the soils are depleted of iodine, which means the foods we eat will also be deficient of this mineral.  Another reason is because in bread dough conditioners iodine was once used, but the manufacturers replaced iodine with bromine a few decades ago.  And bromine competes with iodine.  As a result, people who eat a lot of bread are more likely to be iodine deficient.

Yet another reason for widespread iodine deficiency is because many people are afraid of consuming too much salt, which for some people might be the only source of iodine they get in their diet.  While consuming iodized salt by itself isn’t enough to prevent an iodine deficiency from developing, it obviously is better to consume this minimal amount of iodine than none at all.

How Can You Detect an Iodine Deficiency?

There are a couple of different methods of determining whether someone has an iodine deficiency.  The first, and least reliable method is through an Iodine Patch test.  This test involves taking a 2% tincture of iodine, and essentially drawing a 2 x 2 “patch” on your forearm.  If a person has a sufficient amount of iodine in their body, then the patch shouldn’t begin to fade significantly until after 24 hours.  If it fades between 19 and 24 hours, then the person is considered to have a mild iodine deficiency.  If it fades between 13 and 18 hours, then the person is said to have a moderate iodine deficiency.  And if it disappears in 12 hours or less then the person is said to have a more severe iodine deficiency.  As you might have guessed, this isn’t a very accurate way of detecting an iodine deficiency, although I do think it does have some value, especially as a follow up procedure.   

Another, more accurate way of determining whether someone has an iodine deficiency is through an iodine loading test.  This is a urine test which measures the amount of iodine excreted over a 24-hour period.  It involves taking a 50mg tablet of iodine/iodide, and then seeing how much is excreted through the urine over the next 24 hours.  If 90% of the ingested iodine/iodide is excreted, then the person has a sufficient amount of iodine.  On the other hand, if they excrete less than 90% of iodine/iodide then they have an iodine deficiency.  So for example, a person who excretes only 20% of the iodine/iodide ingested is more iodine deficient than someone who excretes 50% of the iodine/iodide.

How To Correct An Iodine Deficiency

Once an iodine deficiency is detected, the best method of correcting such a deficiency is by taking daily iodine supplements.  While you can consume foods which are rich in iodine, doing this usually won’t correct an iodine deficiency.  When I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition, I began taking an iodine supplement called Prolamine Iodine, which is a supplement from Standard Process.  I began by taking one 3 mg tablet each day for the first week, and then each week I would increase the dosage by one tablet.  Once I reached 8 tablets (24 mg) I switched to a product called Iodoral, which is another high quality iodine supplement, but it comes in higher dosages.  So instead of taking eight 3 mg tablets each day, I took two 12.5 mg tablets.

You might wonder how much iodine you need to correct your deficiency.  Well, according to Dr. David Brownstein’s wonderful book called “Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”, some people need to take up to 50 mg of iodine daily.  However, one should do this slowly, which is why I began by taking a small dosage, and then slowly increased it each week.  As for how much iodine YOU specifically will need to take on an individual basis, this is something that will be determined through the initial test results and then through follow up testing, which is yet another good reason to consult with a natural endocrine doctor.

Why People With Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Need To Avoid Taking Iodine

People with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis need to avoid taking iodine until the autoimmune response is eliminated.  If they take iodine while their immune system is still malfunctioning, their symptoms most likely will worsen.  Once the immune system component has been addressed, the person can then begin an iodine loading protocol if they are deficient in iodine.

Do People With Graves’ Disease & Hyperthyroidism Have An Excess Of Iodine?

As mentioned earlier, some healthcare professionals mistakenly think that all people with hyperthyroidism, including those with Graves’ Disease, have an excess of iodine.  The reason they think this is the case is because iodine is involved in the production of thyroid hormone.  As a result, they assume that someone who is making an excess of thyroid hormone also has an excess of iodine.  But no studies have confirmed this, which is why the only way to know if someone is iodine deficient is through proper testing, as described above.

In summary, many people with different types of thyroid conditions are iodine deficient.  And for those looking to restore their health back to normal through a natural thyroid treatment protocol, it is essential to correct such a deficiency.  For more information on iodine deficiency, and how to correct and prevent it, I highly recommend reading the book by Dr. David Brownstein.  Although the title might sound boring, it is actually a very interesting book that can help many people with thyroid conditions achieve optimal health.

Note: Even though iodine deficiency affects both people with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, I embedded a video below which discusses iodine deficiency in people with hypothyroidism.  But most of the information in this video also applies to people with hyperthyroidism as well.

Other Articles You Might Like To Read:

My Personal Thyroid Diet

A Modified Thyroid Diet

Be Wary Of Natural Thyroid Support Supplements

5 Essential Supplements For Optimal Thyroid Health

What Is The Best Thyroid Supplement To Take?

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