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One of the first things that people look to when seeking alternative treatments for thyroid disorders is iodine. This is a fantastic article from Dr. Mercola on iodine, but I do have one important note to make before you get started on the article.
Iodine supplementation can be SUPER tricky and some practitioners say that it’s a no-no for Hashimoto’s (like Chris Kresser points out in his article).
I personally am on the fence regarding iodine and Hashi’s. I think it can be helpful for some and damaging for others. It really depends on YOUR unique biochemistry. Some people may react better to getting their iodine via food sources and not straight supplementation.
Also, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT start randomly supplementing with iodine unless you are working with a knowledgeable practitioner. You can do WAY more harm than good. Some practitioner are very well versed in using iodine and since it can be so tricky for those with autoimmune thyroid issues, you need to use caution if you do start supplementing.
If you’re suffering from thyroid disease, then one of my favorite resources is the Thyroid Sessions from my trusted affiliate partner, Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness. This compilation of thyroid health information from leading health experts has changed the lives of thousands of people (myself included).
I also have a wide range of thyroid health posts on this site that are a great starting place for anyone with thyroid disease.
Iodine is Important but a New Study Shows Too Much Causes Problems
By Dr. Mercola
Iodine is a vitally important nutrient that is detected in every organ and tissue. Along with being essential for healthy thyroid function and efficient metabolism, there is increasing evidence that low iodine is related to numerous diseases, including cancer.
Worldwide, it’s thought that up to 40 percent of the population is at risk of iodine deficiency.
In the United States, health agencies tend to say most people are iodine “sufficient,” meaning they get enough of the nutrient from their diet, however this is controversial.
According to other sources, such as Dr. David Brownstein, who has been working with iodine for the last two decades, over 95 percent of the patients in his clinic are iodine deficient.
There are serious risks to taking too much iodine, however, which is why you need to be very cautious and get informed before opting for an iodine supplement.
Too Much Iodine May Lead to Subclinical Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition that is often linked to iodine deficiency. Ironically, new research has shown that taking too much iodine may also lead to a subclinical version of the condition, which is a milder form that is often missed by laboratory tests. Along with sometimes exhibiting many of the same symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and difficulty losing weight, people with subclinical hypothyroidism may have an increased risk of heart disease.
Some, however, may exhibit no symptoms at all.
The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that study participants taking relatively higher doses of supplemental iodine — 400 micrograms a day and more – paradoxically began developing subclinical hypothyroidism. The finding highlights precisely why you need to be very careful with taking supplemental iodine, as taking too much can lead to health problems.
In fact, I don’t generally advise taking iodine supplements like Lugol’s or Ioderol, because your thyroid only transports iodine in its ionized form (i.e. iodide). Your thyroid reduces iodide (I-) into iodine (I2) for use in formation of thyroglobulin. Your body doesn’t utilize iodine directly. It has to split the I2 into two I- ions, which is an oxidative reaction that causes oxidative stress.
I recommend taking an iodine supplement in the event of some type of nuclear fallout. In this case, if you’re iodine deficient taking a potassium iodide (a stable form of iodine) supplement can protect your thyroid by “flooding” your system with iodine so your thyroid has no need to take in the radioactive form. But taking potassium iodide when it is not absolutely necessary could result in thyrotoxicosis. In most cases it is far preferable to optimize your iodine through the natural intake of foods.
Why Might Your Iodine Levels be Low?
More than 11 percent of all Americans—and more than 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age—presently have urine iodine levels less than 50 mcg/L, indicating moderate to severe iodine deficiency.i An additional 36 percent of reproductive-aged women in the U.S. are considered mildly iodine deficient (<100 mcg/L urinary iodine). Iodine levels have significantly dropped in the United States in recent decades due to several factors, including:
- Bromine exposure: When you ingest or absorb bromine (found in baked goods, plastics, soft drinks, medications, pesticides and more), it displaces iodine, and this iodine deficiency leads to an increased risk for cancer of the breast, thyroid gland, ovary and prostate — cancers that we see at alarmingly high rates today.
- Declining consumption of iodine-rich foods, such as iodized salt, eggs, fish, and sea vegetables
- Soil depletion
- Less use of iodide in the food and agricultural industry
- Fluoridated drinking water
- Rocket fuel (perchlorate) contamination in food
What’s this doing to our country’s health? The Japanese consume 89 times more iodine than Americans due to their daily consumption of sea vegetables, and they have reduced rates of many chronic diseases, including the lowest rates of cancer in the world. The RDA for iodine in the U.S. is a meager 150 mcg/day, which pales in comparison with the average daily intake of 13800 mcg/day for the Japanese.
There is a large body of evidence suggesting that low cancer rates in Japan are a result of their substantially higher iodine levels, as iodine has documented antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties.
If you are interested in being tested for iodine deficiency, ask your health care provider about the urine iodine challenge test. Another simple way to ensure you’re getting enough iodine is to get an inexpensive prescription from your physician for SSKI, which is a super-saturated potassium iodine. You simply apply three drops to your skin and rub it in, once a day. If when you touch something with slightly wet fingertips it leaves a yellowish stain, then the iodine is coming out of your skin, indicating your body is saturated, i.e. you’re getting enough iodine.
The Best Natural Sources of Iodine
If you want to optimize your iodine levels naturally, pay careful attention to your diet. I believe that toxin-free sea vegetables and spirulina are likely the ideal way to obtain your iodine—however, make sure that these are harvested from uncontaminated waters. Raw milk and eggs contain iodine, as well. At the same time, you’ll want to avoid all sources of bromine as much as possible, as this appears to play a large role in the rising levels of iodine deficiency. Here are several strategies you can use to avoid bromine and thereby help optimize your iodine levels naturally:
- Eat organic as often as possible. Wash all produce thoroughly. This will minimize your pesticide exposure.
- Avoid eating or drinking from (or storing food and water in) plastic containers. Use glass and safe ceramic vessels.
- Look for organic whole-grain breads and flour. Grind you own grain, if possible. Look for the “no bromine” or “bromine-free” label on commercial baked goods.
- Avoid sodas. Drink natural, filtered water instead.
- If you own a hot tub, look into an ozone purification system. Such systems make it possible to keep the water clean with minimal chemical treatments.
- Look for personal care products that are as chemical-free as possible. Remember — anything going on you, goes in you.
- When in a car or a building, open windows as often as possible, preferably on opposing sides of the space for cross ventilation. Utilize fans to circulate the air. Chemical pollutants are in much higher concentrations inside buildings (and cars) than outside.
Supporting the Thyroid & Adrenals Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting the adrenals and thyroid (because they are very closely linked), caffeine may not be your best friend. While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs. Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. In my mind, if I can get something to not only taste amazing but do amazing things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief. Now in its second edition, this ebook features all of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
In addition, you get a ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
Lastly, you get access to your own personal coffee shop. I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.