What if I told you can help protect your own body from cancer? For example ladies, take breast cancer. According to breastcancer.org “About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.” Now I am not trying to scare you, but I am being realistic. We all will unfortunately face this challenge within our families, and historically we only see the risk increasing over the years. Now if we look at varying breast cancer statistics geographically, women living in japan have a very low rate. The major difference between Americans and Japanese being diet, with the average Japanese woman consuming 13-14mg of iodine per day.
Now Geoffrey T. Bouc, M.D., whom wrote a very informational piece called “Iodine: A Tale of the Shrinking Violet,” is a doctor that specializes in treating endocrinology issues with a more holistic approach than the typical trip to the pharmacy. He explains that 75%-95% of all americans are iodine deficient and this can be attributed to the fact that “Iodine intake has dropped from 500-800 mcg per day in 1940 to less than 135 Mcg per day in 1995,” and that “modern farming has made most productive soils very deficient in iodine so it is no longer in your produce.” He writes even further concerning the history of iodine consumption in America and how the supplement went from being commonly used to being replaced with the common toxin bromine in breads and flours. Thanks again food industry!
Since many Americans are deficient in this supplement, this leads me to question what effect this deficiency has on our health. Now Dr. Bouc goes into this as well, which I will here again abbreviate and say that the thyroid hormone is made of both protein and iodine and will not work properly without enough of it. Only a small percentage of our bodies’ iodine is stored within the thyroid, and the rest is stored within every other organ and tissue. As he writes, “Without it we are prone to forming nodules, goiter and cancer. Iodine is essential for the proper development of the fetus, brain growth and development, proper cognition, metabolism and temperature regulation.” Therefore iodine deficiency is linked to fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovarian syndrome, Hypo and Hyperthyroidism, Cognitive dysfunction (Brain fog), Diabetes, Heart Arrhythmias and Breast Cancer.
Knowing that iodine deficiency can be a leading cause of a whole slew of ailments, reading up on the holistic success stories of people who begin iodine supplementation is even that much more satisfying. There are loads of online message boards filled with people explaining that with iodine supplementation they have cured their thyroid issues and no longer need to supplement with TSH and T4, have reduced their cysts and eliminated breast pain, have cleared their daily mental fog, or even have increased the strength of their hair and nails.
Of course being on my own health journey, a known contributor to gallbladder disease is a poorly functioning thyroid. Knowing that Iodine is a major factor for the optimal workings of this gland makes supplementation of high interest to me. Studies have shown that people need about a year of 12.5mg daily to achieve total body saturation and then to continue with the daily 12.5mg iodine maintenance dose (2 drops of Lugol’s or 1 tablet of 12.5 mg Iodoral). Beginning with small doses and gradually increasing your dose over the weeks is sometimes suggested in order to reach maximum dosage within only a few months. However many people as they increase their dose experience varying levels of detoxification and uncomfortable symptoms as the body begins ridding itself of the built up bromine and fluoride and replacing it with iodine, so for me the maintenance dosage is just fine.
I began to follow protocol and started taking a 12.5 mg Iodoral pill along with a 200mg selenium supplement (2-3 brazil nuts) which protects your thyroid. At first I felt very energized, almost jittery, but it was manageable. However as the week passed these so-called “detoxification” symptoms I thought I was experiencing began exhibiting themselves as classic symptoms of hypothyroidism. I continued researching and found that there shouldn’t be any serious issues with regular consumption of a small dose of iodine unless the subject has an underlying autoimmune disorder like Hashimotos or Graves Disease. As Dr. David Brownstein, a strong advocate of iodine supplementation states, “Iodine can aggravate autoimmune thyroid conditions. Iodine supplementation in those that have an autoimmune thyroid problem can be akin to pouring gas over a fire.” Now as autoimmune diseases do run in my immediate family with my sister being celiac, the likelihood of my sister or even me of having another underlying autoimmune disease isn’t that far fetched. As stated in Two of a Kind — Research Connects Celiac and Thyroid Diseases and Suggests a Gluten-Free Diet Benefits Both By Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, and Gary Kaplan, DO, “Anyone with an autoimmune condition is predisposed to developing other autoimmune conditions, and there is a particularly strong connection between celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD), which includes Hashimoto’s and Graves’ diseases.”
Now for anyone like me questioning if they should still supplement iodine with the possibility of having an underlying autoimmune disorder, the key appears to be the adequate consumption of selenium for several weeks before introducing the iodine. Selenium works to protect your thyroid. As Dr. Harris & Dr. Kaplan write, “Selenium deficiency is the underlying prerequisite for iodine induced thyroid damage in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Selenium supplementation is protective and prevents thyroid damage from iodine. Iodine opponents such as Dr K and Chris Kresser as well as the studies they quote tend to ignore the role of selenium.”
Therefore I began again, and this time started supplementing with selenium for four weeks beforehand, and then finally reintroduced iodine into my diet. I began with half of one of my 12.5mg iodine supplements 5 out of 7 days of the week, and then increased it to the full dose for the next week. I am now on week three and I am no longer displaying the worrisome hypothyroid symptoms that I had when I hadn’t adequately pre-dosed myself with selenium. I have now figured out how to comfortably increase my iodine consumption which will help me ward off potential diseases while also detoxifying my body and regulating my thyroid and hormones. Best of luck to anyone else who is also looking into iodine supplementation, I do advise you to consult a professional or do your own research before you begin.