By Carol Blair, BS, CNC, Di Hom
As I write this (early April), the threat from the nuclear reactor in Japan is still unfolding. Radiation (aka radioactive iodine 1-31) has been detected in several US states as far away as PA and MA and has been found in milk and other foods in Japan.
During the height of the catastrophe, there was national panic in this country about iodine. Our shelves were stripped of iodine within two days of the disaster and there was none to be found among our many suppliers or even on the internet.
Let’s explore the reasons for the panic.
Iodine is a necessary mineral for the body and the thyroid especially has an affinity for iodine. Radioactive fallout can be carried on the wind for thousands of miles where it can quickly be taken into the body. If the thyroid receptor sites are not filled with iodine, it will rapidly pick up the radioactive source. As noted above, radiation can contaminate crops too, and we can also take it into the body in this manner.
What most people don’t realize is that iodine is closely linked to good health. Like vitamin D, low iodine has been found to be a causative factor in many diseases including autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, according to two MDs that have performed clinical studies in their own clinics, 95% of Americans are deficient in iodine!
An article in the June 2008 issue of Alternative Medicine Review surprisingly stated that breast tissue has as many receptor sites for iodine as the thyroid! The remaining iodine receptor sites are found in the gastric mucosa, ovaries, prostate, cervix, eyes, and salivary glands.
A study with iodine-deficient rats resulted in breast hyperplasia and iodine is typically low in those with breast cancer. Is it then a coincidence that there is also more breast cancer in hypothyroid patients? Further, an iodine deficiency has also been linked to ovarian cysts, hemorrhoids, lumps in the breasts, and estrogen dominance.
Iodine helps the body control fungi, bacteria, and viruses. In fact, it has been used to purify water in emergencies. Iodine is also necessary to dissolve the wax and oil in cholesterol.
Alan Gaby, MD has noted that many people are taking very high doses on a regular basis, but that there are no long-term studies to support this. Although the RDA of 150 mcg. is leaving many of us deficient, an average dose would likely be in the range of 330-600 mcg daily.
Remember, if you decide to supplement with iodine, you should check with your physician. Also, check your multivitamin to make sure you are getting sufficient selenium (100 – 200 mcg daily) as these two minerals work together, and a co-existing selenium deficiency is common.
Another important consideration is detoxification. Supplements to explore in this area might include spirulina, chlorella, whey, activated charcoal, pectin to bind with toxins, and of course, antioxidants to protect the cells from damage.
So was there justification for the iodine panic? Probably not. However, with the many functions iodine performs in the body, it appears that there is never a good time to be low in this important mineral.