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Can An Iodine Deficiency Cause Graves’ Disease & Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

In a recent post I spoke about the importance of taking iodine for those that have an autoimmune thyroid disorder. I specifically discussed some of the methods to help determine whether someone has an iodine deficiency, including the iodine loading test, and the iodine patch test. I also briefly spoke about my personal experience when I was on an iodine loading protocol, and how people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis need to first address the autoimmune component of their condition.

In this post I want to talk about some of the evidence that points to how an iodine deficiency can actually cause an autoimmune thyroid disorder. Not too long ago I mentioned how Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin/steroid hormone that can possibly prevent or cure Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Iodine is another essential factor, and like Vitamin D, most people are deficient in iodine. I actually plan on discussing some of the main reasons why people are iodine deficient in the next post, but today I want to provide some evidence that iodine deficiency (along with other factors) can cause an autoimmune thyroid disorder.

I’m not suggesting that iodine deficiency by itself is the reason for most cases of Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, I will say that based on my own experience with Graves’ Disease, and dealing with other patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders, I do think it is just about impossible to restore the health of someone who has an autoimmune thyroid disorder if they have an iodine deficiency that isn’t addressed. In my opinion it’s even more important to address an iodine deficiency than a Vitamin D deficiency, although ideally you would want to address both issues.

The reason why iodine is so important is because it is essential to the production of thyroid hormone. And as you know, thyroid hormone is important in the metabolic process, affecting every cell and tissue in the body. So a deficiency of iodine has a direct impact on the thyroid gland, which will affect the entire body.

But let’s go a little bit deeper than this, as if you read the book by Dr. David Brownstein called “Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”, you’ll understand more of the physiology behind this and how an iodine deficiency can potentially lead to an autoimmune thyroid disorder.

Dr. Brownstein talks about the oxidation process, as when iodide gets transported into the thyroid cell, it gets converted to iodine. So the oxidative process is important for the body to properly utilize iodine. Dr. Brownstein goes on to say that “Abnormalities of the oxidation of iodine can result in the production of anti-thyroperoxidase antibodies (Anti-TPO).”

As a result of this damage to TPO, this can lead to an autoimmune thyroid disorder. If you have Hashimito’s Thyroiditis, then you probably know that this diagnosis requires the presence of anti-TPO antibodies. Graves’ Disease can also include these same antibodies, although unlike Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis this isn’t always the case.

Dr. Brownstein did a study on 24 of his patients, and showed that “92% of those with Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease also had an iodine deficiency.” Not only that, but he also said that “nearly every one of these patients had dramatic improvements in their symptoms with the use of a combination of iodine/iodide to replace the body’s deficit”.

Now I realize that this is a small research sample, but when you understand the importance of iodine and the basic physiology when it comes to thyroid gland function, it really isn’t too difficult to see how an iodine deficiency can create an autoimmune thyroid disorder, and also help to restore one’s health when such a deficiency is addressed.

As for what type of iodine supplement you should take, and how much iodine you should take, I do really think it’s best to consult with a natural endocrine doctor first. However, I will tell you that when I began my iodine loading protocol, I initially took a product called Prolamine Iodine, which is a supplement manufactured by Standard Process.

I began taking one 3mg tablet daily for the first week, and then increased the dosage by one tablet each week. I eventually switched to a product called Iodorol, mainly because they have tablets that come in higher dosages. So instead of taking 8 tablets of Prolamine Iodine, I could take two 12.5mg tablets of Iodorol. This product also comes in a 25mg and 50mg dosage, although I personally prefer to break up the dosages.

I realize I have spoken a lot about Dr. Brownstein’s book, but that’s because it really is an outstanding book that contains a lot of great information, not only about iodine and autoimmune thyroid disorders, but how iodine can help with other conditions. Although the title might make it sound like a boring book, it actually is very interesting, and very easy to read. I’ll be mentioning it again numerous times in my next post, as I wrap up my “iodine lessons” (at least for now!) and will talk about why most people are iodine deficient.