Iodine Debate: My Take on this Crucial Nutrient
Why I preach caution about iodine
Iodine is truly a controversial topic in the natural health field. There are those whose lives have been dramatically improved with high-dose iodine supplementation, but there are also those that have experience massive detox from even moderate doses of iodine. Many people claim that food sources of iodine are “not enough to fix deficiency” but I tend to disagree with this for two main reasons.
For the first reason why I preach caution, high doses of any isolated nutrient can negatively effect people. For something like iodine that detoxes the halides, it can easily over-tax the liver and give stress to the adrenals. If you are in adrenal exhaustion, you probably do not have the strength to deal with this detox, even if you are including the companion nutrients on the Iodine Protocol (you can read a little about the iodine protocol here). I’ve heard from many people who have had adrenal crashes from the iodine protocol, and even a few that ended up with pretty bad kidney damage. Strengthen your body first before going crazy with detoxing!
For the second reason, just because a food has less of a nutrient than a supplement doesn’t mean that it is useless. A supplement will just give that specific nutrient. A food will give you that nutrient, other vitamins and minerals, even enzymes or phytonutrients that have benefits for health. Food has more bang for the buck in my opinion, plus bodies are built to recognize food more readily than something created in a lab. Whose rule is that when we are deficient in something that we need to take mega-doses to fix it? That honestly seems like an allopathic way of thinking to me.
I’ll admit, my personal experience with iodine led me to think like this. I kept seeing people rave about iodine, how it changed their lives, gave them energy, cured their illness. I thought this made perfect sense! I even saw a Naturopath that told me the same thing- iodine was very important. He wanted me to take 30-50 drops of Lugol’s iodine a day (which equates to about 200mg of iodine!). I worked up slowly, but didn’t get past 10 drops because of the detox effects. I was also nursing my son at the time, and I got very nervous that I would pass those toxins onto him.
This doctor didn’t tell me anything about liver health, why adrenal health needed to be built up first (although he diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue), or about companion nutrients. So *maybe* if I had known the truth and done the actual protocol, things would have worked differently. I still prefer people to be safe and smart about supplementing because I know the power that isolated nutrients can have.
There is also a great report on the WAPF site that you can read entitled The Great Iodine Debate. Many experts cannot agree on what the “best” dose is for iodine. Apparently, the current RDA for iodine is similar to what Weston A Price found in his research for many cultures. From the WAPF article, “Abraham and Brownstein argue that the human iodine requirement is 1,500 mcg per day (1.5 mg) which is difficult to achieve without using seaweed, iodized salt or supplementation. They argue that because of widespread bromide and fluoride toxicity, most people today require between 5 and 50 mg per day, amounts only possible with supplementation; they do note that such supplementation should only be taken under the supervision of a physician to monitor iodine status.”
Our water has fluoride and chlorine, our bread has bromine, some soft drinks use bromated vegetable oil, our furniture has bromine as well. So we are overloaded with halides, making the iodine we get insufficient. This seems to be the true need for more iodine.
What is Iodine important for? According to Earth Clinic:
- Essential for proper thyroid health.
- Useful anti-oxidant.
- Efficient anti-pathogen-kills most forms of bacteria, viruses and fungi quickly.
- Effectively works to reverse hypo- and hyperthyroid conditions.
- Has anti-biofilm surfactant properties.
- Acts as an anti-histamine at larger dosages.
- Detoxes cadmium, aluminum, lead, mercury, arsenic and other poisons. (Lugol’s is a chelator)
- Detoxes fluorine and bromine.
- Helps to balance the body’s hormone system.
- Essential for all hormone receptor activity and health (not just the thyroid gland).
- Raises metabolism, making it more efficient.
- Essential for proper immune system health.
- Essential immune system component of mucus glands throughout the body.
- Essential for bone health.
- Promotes skin, hair and nail health.
- Promotes healthy digestion.
- Reduces excessive mucus production.
- Helps properly regulate estrogen in the ovaries.
- Decreases insulin needs/helps diabetes.
- Iodine has mucolytic action (clears excess mucus in the lungs, nose etc.).
- Increases energy (increases ATP production).
- Essential for early brain development.
- Lowers cholesterol and reduces arterial plaque build-up.
- Radiation protection.
So what are our choices with iodine then?
Well, it all comes down to your choice honestly. We all have to do what we are comfortable with and what works well for our bodies. I will always prefer food-based over a supplement because you get so much more with food. But the best things to do before beginning iodine are to get your Magnesium RBC and Selenium RBC tested- once they are optimal, that will give you a view on if your body is ready to handle the detox effects. It is also beneficial to know your adrenal status and make sure that you are supporting your liver through the iodine protocol.
My first choice for iodine would be sea vegetables. Yes, lots of these products are contaminated, but there are a few good ones out there still. Wakame from New Zealand is apparently one of the cleanest sea vegetables you can find. It is full of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, folate, and many vitamins!
There was a third party study done by Natural News about the cleanest sea veggies out there. You can check it out here but it will ask you for an email address ( you can automatically cancel the email newsletter if you don’t want it- the report is worth this inconvenience).
Other foods high in iodine:
- organic dairy (yogurt has 100mcg per cup)
- cod (3oz has 100mcg)
- eggs (25 mcg per large egg)
- potatoes (1 medium has 60mcg)
- turkey (3 oz has 34mcg)
- strawberries (1 cup has 13mcg)
- cranberries ( 1 cup has 400 mcg)
Himalayan Pink Salt also has a decent amount of iodine- a 500mg serving of salt (about 1/4 tsp) has 250mcg of iodine. So using Pink Salt for Sole Water would automatically be helping your iodine levels- I am sure many people with adrenal fatigue are already doing this.
This kelp from Starwest botanicals has about 3-5 mg of iodine per tablespoon, which seems like a win-win. You get a great amount of iodine, plus you get a food source which will give you other much-needed nutrients like magnesium (which is needed to work with iodine).
I love Maine Coast Sea Veggies because they offer some of the best products for sea veggies. Most of their products are organic, harvested from the Atlanic Ocean, and tested for contaminants (source). They even make a naturally iodized sea salt, with the iodine coming from organic kelp.
There are many kinds of supplemental iodine: Lugol’s, Nascent Iodine, drops, tablets, and even hybrid kelp/synthetic iodine.
I will always preach caution when it comes to isolated nutrients. They can all bump other nutrients out of range. Balance is key, especially when you are healing from adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, and a sluggish liver.