Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Old Epidemic Resurfaces: The Iodine Connection

Radiation rising, hypothyroidism on the increase, uterine fibroids epimedic.
Iodine is certainly getting a lot of attention lately. As radiation from Fukushima continues to contaminate the environment and threatens the globe, iodine, a formidable mineral adaptogen, is rising to the forefront. And with good reason: Nutritional iodine actually blocks radioactive iodine (iodine-131) from being absorbed by your thyroid gland! When you have a sufficient amount of this key nutrient in your body, not only your thyroid, but all other glandular tissues, including breast, prostate and ovaries, are protected. Problem is most of us simply don’t have a sufficient amount of iodine in our tissues any more.

Endocrinologists in the US typically recommend a paltry 150 micrograms of iodine per day. Enlightened integrative doctors can typically recommend as much as 50 milligrams, believe it or not. While the lesser amount may be adequate to prevent a goiter, it is woefully inadequate to support iodine sufficiency in your thyroid or breasts – the number 1 and number 2 iodine-concentrating glands – nor would you be protected from nuclear radiation damage or the many other thyroid-linked illnesses that plague us today:[1]

* Fibromyalgia
* Fatigue/low energy
* Osteoporosis
* Hair loss
* Depression/anxiety
* Heart disease
* Celiac disease
* Candidiasis
* Allergies
* Diabetes
* Cushing’s Syndrome
* Cardiovascular disease
* Cancer
* Fibrocystic disease

Interestingly, the Japanese (pre-Fukushima) consumed some fifty times more iodine than Americans, mostly in the form of fish and sea vegetables. It’s no coincidence that they had (until recently) the lowest incidence of breast cancer in the world, while we in the US have the highest. Our intake of iodine has actually declined over the last few decades, paralleling a nearly three-fold increase in breast cancer in this country.[2]

Along with decreased intake of iodine, we’ve experienced an increased intake of its close relatives, fluoride and bromine. All belong to the “halogen” chemical family, a competitive lot that vies for uptake by body tissues. Excessive bromine and/or fluoride in the body can actually remove iodine from your tissues. Fluoride is found in the majority of our water supplies (67%) and in many foods, beverages and dental products. Bromide is in many soft drinks and, since 1980, has been used by bakers as a dough conditioner. Ironically, prior to that time, iodine was used for that purpose. Now, our major source of iodine is table salt. Problem is many households (45%) opt for iodine-free salt, and many folks who once used iodine-fortified salt have greatly reduced their salt intake for health reasons.

Like your thyroid, your breasts actually have a pump (the sodium-iodine symporter) to soak up iodine.[3] And, when there’s plenty of iodine available for them to do so, the likelihood of developing breast cancer or fibrocystic disease is greatly reduced. Russian researchers found that the signs and symptoms of fibrocystic disease were relieved with iodine. Seventy-one percent of 167 women studied obtained this benefit on 50 milligrams (5000 micrograms) of potassium iodide daily.[4]

Your stomach mucosa and salivary glands soak up nearly as much of the element as the thyroid gland does. AND, iodine pumps are not only found in the thyroid gland and breasts – the ovaries, thymus gland, skin, choroid plexus in the brain (which makes cerebral-spinal fluid), joints, arteries and bones all have these pumps, too. Your WHOLE BODY needs more iodine!

Studies show that the most beneficial form of supplementation is one that includes a high potency iodine of five mg combined with 7.5 mg potassium iodide. I use and recommend Iodoral (UNI KEY Health, 800-888-4353), a tableted form of Lugol solution that was used by doctors for decades. I also recommend the Iodine Loading Test to measure iodine levels so that you can access exactly how much iodine your unique biochemistry requires.

With the same urine sample used in the Iodine Loading Test, you can also opt for the Combined Iodine, Fluoride and Bromide Provocation Test, which will tell you if iodine uptake is being blocked by its sister halogens. My iodine was suspiciously low. When I took the Iodine, Fluoride and Bromide Provocation Test, I learned that bromide – most likely from bromated vegetable oils or bromated flours used to make breads and bagels – was my personal iodine-blocker. And, I haven’t been eating these “foods” for years!

These tests can be so much more useful than conventional blood tests that aren’t sensitive enough to detect subclinical thyroid abnormalities. Until you have completed and implemented the results of the Iodine Loading Test, you can’t imagine how vital the right amount and the right kind of iodine is to your health.

-Edge On Health, Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman