Iodine: Essential for Overall Health

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • Iodine deficiency has become a major epidemic worldwide and is impacting the health of billions. The World Health Organization has stated that 72% of the global population and 96% of Americans are deficient.[1] Even though, iodine was added to salt in the 1920’s as a potential solution to goiter and thyroid health, the amount of iodine is insufficient to support optimal thyroid function. Consumption of iodized salt has substantially decreased in recent years as people have turned away from processed salt in exchange for more natural, mineral rich forms of sea salt. Overall, iodine is scarcely found in food anymore and soils have been depleted of this important nutrient. Even more alarming is that other chemicals such as bromine, fluorine and chlorine (which are heavily present in our food and water supply) are being mistaken as iodine in the body and thus blocking receptor sites. This is contributing to a host of other problems related to overall health both from the deficiency in iodine as well as the chemical toxicity.

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    Iodine is a crucial mineral that is found in every cell in the body. Although imperative for proper thyroid function (preventing and reversing hypo and hyperthyroidism as well as goiter and cretinism), it’s even more important for other glands throughout the body including those found in the reproductive organs, blood, lymph, bones, salivary, adrenal, thymus, lungs, bladder, kidneys and skin. Iodine deficiency is one of the primary causes of mental retardation and other brain damage/mental dysfunction. Iodine is important for cancer prevention, diabetes, protein synthesis, immune system function, estrogen production, preventing heart disease, and removing toxic halogens as a chelation method to name just a few. Iodine also has antioxidant, anti-proliferative and anti fungal properties. It is essential for regulating metabolism. Other deficiency related conditions include swollen glands in the throat, fluoride/bromide/mercury toxicity, decreased fertility, gout (uric acid build-up in joints), skin problems, fatigue, increased infant mortality rates and ADHD in babies born to iodine deficient mothers.[1] [2] [3]


    The role of toxins in this global situation is key to understanding an underlying cause of deficiency. There are several toxic chemicals (bromine, chlorine and fluorine) that compete with receptors for the thyroid gland due to the fact that they are part of the same halogen family and resemble iodine. When these toxins are heavily ingested or absorbed, they block the body’s ability to hold onto the iodine that it needs to function properly. This works in reverse as well. When iodine is present in the body, it can then get to the receptor sites first and consequently block these harmful compounds from binding and accumulating on the glands. Although it would be impossible to avoid these chemicals entirely, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure.[4] 


    Bromine is found in pesticides, bromated vegetable oil (BVO) and commercial bakery/bread products in which it’s used as a dough conditioner. You can also find bromine in drinking water, some personal care products, plastics, soft drinks, some medications, hot tub and pool treatments, car interiors and household materials such as fabrics, carpets, upholstery and mattresses. Minimize your exposure by checking ingredient labels, avoiding plastic bottles and soda, consuming only organic foods and whole grains, and choosing natural personal care products.[3] Avoid fluorinated water, toothpaste, mouthwashes, etc. Make sure that chlorine is filtered from your water (including the shower water), avoid bleach and again consume only organic produce as chlorine is used to make pesticides.


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    For iodine supplementation, there is much debate over the amount one can consume safely. There have been some reports connecting excessive supplemental iodine intake with hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis. However, most experts would agree that the more serious problem is deficiency and that almost everyone could benefit from increased iodine intake, preferably from food sources. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine. In fact, because of the widespread consumption of sea vegetables in Japan, they consume 89x more iodine than Americans and also have much lower cancer rates.[3] Other food sources of iodine include kelp, kale, broccoli, peanuts, brussel sprouts and turnips.  Although traditional supplements aren’t generally recommended (potassium iodide should only be taken to protect thyroid from radiation exposure), one can safely take kelp supplements, Lugol’s iodine solution or nascent iodine (in combination with magnesium and selenium supplementation) to raise their iodine levels.[2] [5] As referenced by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Drs. Guy Abraham and David Brownstein recommend an intake amount much higher than the RDA and more in line with Japanese consumption, 12-50mg daily and 100mg/day for diabetics, based on the Iodine Project study conducted with 4,000 patients from 1997 through 2005.[1] A simple urine test can indicate whether you are deficient.


    [1] Cousens, G. (2012, June 5). Iodine - open letter to dr. mercola. Retrieved from


    [2] Sircus, M. (2011, October 15). Iodine phobia. Retrieved from


    [3] Mercola, J. (2009, September 5). Avoid this if you wan to keep your thyroid healthy. Retrieved from


    [4] (n.d.) Retrieved from


    [5] Fassa, P. (2011, December 15). Time to clear some of the confusion on iodine supplementation. Retrieved from

Published On: January 23, 2013