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Friday, November 15, 2013

The iodine deficiency epidemic and what you can do to protect yourself (Updated 25/11/13)

The iodine deficiency epidemic

Iodine deficiency is a widespread epidemic that comes with a very, very long list of health problems, including depression, thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia, mental retardation, obesity, auto immune nervous disorders, heavy metal toxicity and most cancers.  In fact, iodine deficiency may have a crucial role in just about every ailment known to mankind.

Iodine deficiency in New Zealand

Of the 478 New Zealand patients so far tested (November 2013), using the Thyrodine test, it was found that 91% are iodine deficient with many being severely deficient.  Of those 91%, 14% showed evidence of exposure to toxic halides (chlorine, fluorine and bromine).  These toxic halides block the iodine receptors in the cells, preventing the uptake of iodine.  Anybody who has been exposed to toxic halides, such as hair dressers, dairy farmers, swimmers and industrial workers may have been harmed by toxic halides.  Regular use of household chlorinated cleaners may cause harm to the thyroid.

My own analysis of Thyrodine test results show clearly that competitive swimmers are the worst performers on this test, presumably due to spending many hours exercising vigorously in chlorinated and fluoridated water.  From an athlete's viewpoint: Low thyroid function due to iodine deficiency means poor performance and being very prone to problems like sore muscles, weak muscles, tendonitis and a weak heart!

Test finds 91% rate of iodine deficiency in a group of New Zealand patients:

Elite swimmers are the worst performers!

I am finding that vegetarians are also poor performers on this test, as appear to be dairy farmers; but it is still too early in the testing to be sure of these, since the numbers are too small to be sure.  The common connection between swimmers, dairy farmers and vegetarians is exposure to substances that are known to interfere with thyroid function: 

Many vegetables are known to be "goitrogens".  Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can, as a result, cause an enlargement of the thyroid.

Foods that are considered to be goitrogens
Brussels sprouts
Chinese Broccoli
Pine nuts
Red Radish

Of course, these foods are healthy and should be in the diet; but may present a problem when consumed frequently in large amounts, such as if a vegetarian and especially if juicing vegetables. Eating large amounts of goitrogenic vegetables may cause low thyroid function and consequent fatigue.  The tradition of fermenting vegetables (think: "sauerkraut") is believed to reduce the slowing effect on metabolism while releasing more nutrients per serving. 

Iodine is a member of the "Halogen" class of the elements.  More reactive elements, in their order of reactivity, are fluorine, chlorine and bromine.  When these are present, they bully iodine, suppressing thyroid function.  They are potent goitrogens.

Fluorine and chlorine are found in most municipal water supplies in New Zealand.  Chlorine is found in much more concentrated amounts in pool water.  Chlorine may be necessary, in most municipal water systems, for preventing water-borne diseases; but there is no benefit and only harm from ingesting chlorine at the end of the delivery chain.  Like fluorine, once it is in the water it is not easy to get it out.

While fluoride may be beneficial for tooth enamel, health officials conveniently refuse to acknowledge the known damaging effect of the halogens, other than iodine, on human metabolism; or that fluoride is the most damaging.  

Fluorine is the active ingredient in some rat and opossum baits and is the active ingredient of nerve gas which the Syrians know all about. Yet it is safe to dump into our drinking water - figure that one out for me please!

Imported vegetables and fruit may have been fumigated with the halogen element called bromine which has a direct negative effect on thyroid function.  Bromine is also a flame retardant which is used on children's nightwear, drapes, carpets and automobile upholstery.  It is found in some medications and disinfectants.  Bromine and/or chlorine are present in most, if not all plastics.

Chlorine is even more ubiquitous than fluorine and bromine:  It is used in many household and industrial cleaning agents, including some of the chemicals used by dairy farmers to sterilise and flush milking equipment and stainless steel tanks.  You can see the possible connection here between diary farmers and other groups such as swimmers. 

Iodine is one of the safest of all the nutrients required for healthy bodily functions 

While there is much misinformation circulating, including within medical quarters, the evidence is clear that iodine is very safe to take.

There is a small possibility that supplementary iodine may cause a temporary reaction, such as swollen glands in the neck and general feelings of malaise.  This is not necessarily a bad thing: it shows that we may have hit the problem on the button.  Symptoms are controlled within tolerable limits by reducing the daily iodine intake while maintaining a generous intake of its nutritional co-factors such as magnesium and vitamin C.  Your health practitioner is there to help work through any difficulties with getting from a condition of deficiency to sufficiency.

When taking iodine as a supplement, it is essential that there is a generous intake of nutrients that support the uptake and use of iodine.  These include:
  • Multi mineral salt such as Celtic or Himalayan salt (1-2 teaspoons daily)
  • Selenium 200-400mcg/day
  • Vitamin C 3,000 to 6,000mg/day
  • Magnesium 300 to 600mg/day
  • B group of vitamins
  • Enough water (free of chlorine and bromine) to have you peeing several times a day but not getting up all hours of the night!
The amount of iodine to be prescribed is best determined by your health practitioner and guided by an accurate test of iodine status, such as the "Thyrodine" test.

Is it an infection?

A person who is deficient in iodine will tend to be prone to viral infections, such as the flu, colds, tonsillitis, inner ear and sinus infections (think of swimmers).  Iodine, when sufficient within the body, will aid the body with becoming very resistant to such infections.  So, if you develop a sore throat, for example, while taking iodine, consider the possibility that you have a new infection, or the flare up of an old one, and not a reaction to the iodine.  If the iodine is suspected to be causing any kind of reaction, then we may just have to work through it as your body adjusts. Please read on....

Recommended daily Dietary Allowances for Iodine versus what is optimum for a long and healthy life?

The RDA for iodine, as with most nutrients, is ridiculously low.  The amounts recommended by the WHO (refer chart below) do not apply to you.  The RDA is what is estimated to be sufficient to prevent outright malnutrition.  In the case of iodine the RDA is the minimum amount to avoid goitre and mental retardation, but that's about that.  The levels recommended by WHO are far too low and also do not take account individual differences in need, nor the confounding factors, such as widespread population exposure to increasing amounts of toxic halides (chlorine, fluorine and bromine).

If you are wanting to live a long and healthy life, or wishing to overcome a health problem like fibromyalgia, fibrocystic breast disease or thyroid disease, then the WHO RDA for iodine is not for you.  You need much, much more - usually 500 times more!

For guidance about what it takes for a long and healthy life, I recommend that we ignore WHO RDAs, unless we live in an impoverished 3rd World environment, and take notice of the Okinawa Centenarian Study.  Okinawa Centenarians consume about 500 times the RDA for iodine. 

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iodine [2]
Birth to 6 months110 mcg*110 mcg*
7–12 months130 mcg*130 mcg*
1–3 years90 mcg90 mcg
4–8 years90 mcg90 mcg
9–13 years120 mcg120 mcg
14–18 years150 mcg150 mcg220 mcg290 mcg
19+ years150 mcg150 mcg220 mcg290 mcg
* Adequate Intake (AI)
The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) recommend a slightly higher iodine intake for pregnant women of 250 mcg per day [3,7].

What is Optimum intake for iodine for a long and healthy life?

 There is no optimum that I can recommend without first doing some testing of your iodine levels and then repeating the test later on to see how you have responded.  Optimum for most people would appear to be from 12-24mg of Lugols iodine, with nutritional co-factors, per day.  But that depends hugely upon the individual and this can only be determined by testing iodine status.  As with all nutritional interventions, accurate testing should be done to determine need (The same applies to drugs as well; but you would be amazed at the cavalier way so many harmful drugs are dished out left, right and center and with little or no ongoing monitoring!).

Fact: Thousands and thousands of people die each year from taking poorly prescribed and poorly monitored drugs; whereas there are no recorded deaths from taking vitamins and minerals, including iodine.

I am not aware of a single fatality from taking a vitamin pill in New Zealand over the previous 40 years.

How to safely overcome Iodine starvation

Think of a person who has been found dying of thirst in the desert: While the victim may need liters of water to be restored to good health, the process of rehydration is gradual, starting with a teaspoon of water.  The same may be the case with iodine deficiency as measured with the Thyrodine test.  A person who is severely deficient in iodine, and who may have been this way for many years, may be sensitive to added iodine, so we may be wise to start with a low dose and to take our time. 

The motto, in such cases of suspected iodine sensitivity due to severe iodine deficiency, is:

"Start Low - Go Slow!" 

Iodine promotes mental alertness and boosts energy.  Have the iodine with the vitamin C drink that I usually recommend to go with it and take it in the morning and afternoon and not in the evening, just in case it may cause insomnia.

Here is what to do, if you think you are having any kind of uncomfortable reaction to iodine supplementation:
  • Stop the supplementary iodine for 24-48 hours, or for as long as it takes to feel any symptoms to disappear.  Keep taking the supporting supplements such as vitamin C and magnesium.
  • Contact your health practitioner and discuss what you are experiencing and follow the advice given which is usually as follows:
  • Once symptoms appear to have settled:  Recommence at the previous level of iodine before any symptoms were noticed.
  • If there is no exacerbation after 1-2 weeks, then increase the total by 6mg in a day - not the usual 12mg. 
  • Hold there for a week.  If your practitioner has advised to make further increases, please do so by 6mg per week and no more.
  • If there is a return of symptoms, then stop once again, as per above and then restart at a level below which the symptoms again arose.
  • Repeat this process for as long as you and your health practitioner decide is necessary, or until you have reached your target intake and/or repeats of the Thyrodine test indicate that you have achieved iodine sufficiency.
  • Repeat the Thyrodine test at about 6-8 weeks to get a measure of what has been happening and follow the new advice of your health practitioner.
Got the idea?

How to maintain iodine sufficiency

The maintenance dose per day for iodine, once a person is "iodine sufficient" is not entirely clear and will always vary between people.  Even size of one's body makes a difference.  A swimmer in chlorinated and fluoridated water may require large daily amounts of iodine to keep healthy.

This is why Thyrodine testing and repeat testing is most important.  Repeating the Thyrodine test now and then will determine what your personal iodine intake needs to be in order to maintain lasting iodine sufficiency.  Normal procedure is to repeat the Thyrodine test at 6-12 week intervals, if aggressively supplementing with iodine, or at six monthly intervals if in maintenance mode.  Exactly what you do will be determined in consultation with your health practitioner.

Become an expert in iodine for your health

To help get you started, have a look at these videos by two of the leading medical gurus on iodine and health:

This first one is by Thyroid expert, Dr David Brownstein and the second by Dr Garry Gordon  Dr Brownstein's is rather long (1hr 39min), as is Dr Gordon's (52 min) but both are well worth the time watching and listening.  If you have a thyroid or autoimmune disorder, please listen carefully to their presentations several times.

If you have any questions please post your inquiry in the comments below or contact me directly.

About this website 
The advice in these articles is given freely without promise or obligation. Its all about giving you and your family the tools and information to take control of your health and fitness.
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