Why do people need to supplement with iodine?
People suffering from an iodine deficiency may or may not see any early symptoms. The most effective way to check your levels is to ask your health practitioner for a urine test. The effects of iodine deficiency are well researched so if you have evidence of a deficiency you could expect to see or feel the following:
- Gaining weight unexpectedly
- Hair loss
- Flaky, dry skin
- Lacking energy, feeling weak and tired
- Feeling cold, cold hands and feet
- Slowing heart rate
- Pregnancy complications
- Swollen neck -an enlarged thyroid gland, a goiter
- Irregularities with menstrual cycle
- Difficulties with memory and concentration, slow processing
- Joint stiffness
Iodine is an essential non-metallic mineral that is utilized by the human body in trace amounts to aid growth and development. It is found in every organ and tissue and is crucial for the proper functioning of the immune system, brain, metabolism and cardiovascular health.
A range of organs also advantaged by iodine supplementation includes;
- Breast health
- Salivary glands
Do iodine supplements work?
There are many benefits in iodine supplementation as iodine is used in your entire body – in the of trillions of cells that make up our body, not just for the thyroid as is commonly noted. Supplements of all kinds are very popular, yet it seems generally acknowledged that they don’t all provide what is promised.
A German study concluded that supplementary iodine in small amounts (250mcg) caused “slight but significant changes in thyroid function in predisposed individuals” (1)
There is significant research indicating supplementation of iodine during pregnancy is vital for healthy thyroid and for the brain development of the unborn child and psycho motor development in young children.
Supplementation will only work if hypothyroidism is caused by lack of iodine. Ideally you should adhere to the recommended daily intake levels of between 150mcg and 250mcg. Less than 75mcg can cause deficiency.
Beware that excessive iodine intake may lead to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid autoimmunity, especially in susceptible groups with repeated thyroid disease, fetuses, the elderly and new born babies.(2) A balance of iodine in our bodies is needed as both insufficient, and excessive levels can cause health issues.
What is the best iodine supplement?
There are many supplements available, however, not all the supplements on the market are suited for your body’s needs and some research and consideration is required to ensure you are not wasting your money. Below are three often listed supplements for people with iodine deficiency:
Transformative Nano-Colloidal Detoxified Iodine
Also known as Nascent Iodine, this form of iodine is popular for its ability to trigger faster and increased energy release after consumption. It comes in a unique form that enables it to pass through the body without difficulty. It can be easily recognized and assimilated by the body. Unlike the other types of iodine supplements, Nascent iodine is alcohol-free.
Lugol’s Solution Iodine
This iodine supplement has 6.3 mg of molecular iodine/iodine in each drop. The solution is composed of 10% potassium iodide, 5% elemental iodine and 85% of distilled water. Potassium iodide renders the elementary iodine soluble in water through the formation of the triiodide (I−3) ion. It is not to be confused with tincture of iodine solutions, which consist of elemental iodine, and iodide salts dissolved in water and alcohol. Lugol’s solution contains no alcohol. Lugol’s solution is one-third molecular iodine (5%). Studies indicate that the best iodine supplement is one that includes molecular iodine, which breast tissue prefers.
Kelp is a sea vegetable which contains high level of iodine and is sold as an iodine supplement by many companies. The concentration of iodine in kelp tablets is wide ranging and may contain 150mcg or 225mcg or 350mcg. Kelp tablets will usually be lower in iodine than supplements such as Lugol’s and Nascent. Kelp is a food, so some prefer to take this non-synthetic form of iodine rather than those not food based.
This type of supplement comes in tablet form with doses of 0.23 mg to 130 mg. It is a closely bound inorganic form of iodine with the body assimilating it in smaller amounts, approximately 20%, it has proven to be effective. It is known for preventing the absorption of radioactive iodine by the thyroid gland which could lead to the development of thyroid cancer. Additionally, potassium iodide is useful during emergency treatment for hyperthyroidism.
Recommended Daily Intake
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends iodine for different groups of people as shown below (Micrograms per day):
- Infants of up to 6 months should take 110 mcg (micrograms)
- Babies of 7-12 months should be given 130 mcg
- Children of 1- 8 years should be given 90 mcg
- For those between 9-13 years, 120 mcg
- Teenagers from 14 years and older persons should take 220 mcg
- Pregnant women need 220 mcg
- Breastfeeding women should take 290 mcg
According to the ATA taking in excess of 1,100 mcg of iodine per day, which is considered the tolerable upper limit, may cause thyroid dysfunction. Many supplements have iodine in quantities that are up to several thousand times higher than the tolerable upper limit.
Do iodine supplements interact with medicines?
Cases of iodine interaction with medications are common. Examples of drugs that can react with iodine include:
- Antithyroid medications
- Potassium-sparing diuretics
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
Supplementation increases manufacture of thyroid hormone and so is beneficial for those who suffer forms of hypothyroidism including Hashimoto’s disease. As much as supplements are beneficial it is vital to avoid consuming abnormally high dosages without consulting your health practitioner.
Why do we have iodine deficiency today?
Iodine deficiency is a common health issue which often goes undiagnosed. Iodine deficiency can effect people from any age group including the unborn child, children, adults and seniors. The dietary changes that have occurred as society has developed, have also effected the iodine levels we ingest. Indicators for those most at risk of iodine deficiency and therefore in need of supplementation are:
- Diets that exclude or limit dairy, fish, eggs as these provide high levels of iodine
- Reduction in iodine available in bread due to the removal of iodine as a conditioner
- Diets that include high quantities of raw cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and radish etc. When digested these release goitrogens which can increase the demand for iodine (4)
- Reduction in iodine in dairy and meat products due to removal of iodine used in cleaning machinery
- Removal of iodized salt from our diets due to medical concerns of high blood pressure and heart health
- Incidental intake of halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine) through water, personal care products, medications, crops and processed foods. These halogens block the absorption of iodine in the cells
- Pregnant (including the unborn child) and lactating women
How do I know if I have an iodine deficiency? A quick test.
Testing for iodine deficiency is relatively easy, and as an initial indicator the Iodine Patch Test is something you can perform on your own, at home.
How to Perform the Patch Test
- Paint a 3-inch square patch on your inner thigh, inner forearm or abdomen using tincture of iodine (the orange solution)
- Leave the painting untouched for some time; preferably overnight or 24 hours.
- Check the painted area from time to time.
- Results: If your skin absorbs the paint before 12 hours, this can indicate an iodine deficiency. The iodine will absorb through the skin and the quicker it disappears the more iodine deficient you would be. However, if the iodine remains, generally longer than 12-14 hours, then it is said you have sufficient iodine supplies in your body.
The Patch Test is a beginning point and a general guide. When you are looking for more accurate results the Urine Spot test and the Urine Loading Test provide more accurate results. Briefly, the Urine Loading Test works on the premise that, once loaded with iodine, the body will excrete what it does not need. This is measured over 24 hours. If you suffer from iodine deficiency, your body will retain a significant portion of the pre-test iodine. When iodine levels are balanced more iodine will be secreted. The Urine Spot Test is beneficial to patients with suspected or diagnosed thyroid conditions. The test requires one urine sample taken from the first morning void.