Do You Need to Supplement Iodine? Part 2


Screen-Shot-2012-09-11-at-1.54.20-PM-207x300.pngI just got off the phone with my very knowledgeable naturopath, who will remain unnamed because I didn’t ask his permission to quote him. I asked him about the iodine supplementation conundrum I talked about in my last post, since I couldn’t seem to find the answer on my own (and didn’t have the 1,000 hours I thought it might take to come to a good conclusion).

The research and clinical findings are so totally polar… and I had a feeling he’d tell me that he’d spent months researching this very topic in some naturopathic cave and then give me a clear answer to my question. And that’s exactly what happened. The question, by the way, was “should I supplement iodine for my breast tenderness and painful periods?”

Now, I’m not saying that my naturopath is the end-all-be-all of nutrition wisdom and knowledge, but he does have a really big brain, I’ve known him for a decade, and right now I’m putting my faith in him. He said he’d “gone down the iodine rabbit hole” a while back and tested about 60 patients for iodine deficiency, using the urine test that the iodine pushers (Abramson and Brownstein) had devised. Every single one of his patients was found to be deficient. That was his first clue that something wasn’t quite right. They all had really similar results, too, which isn’t common with any test.

Bad Science and Autoimmune Thyroid Fears
More than that, though, he said that a lot of the citations Brownstein uses in his manifestos (not peer reviewed research) are his own other works. Not exactly unbiased stuff. Also, he told me that some important studies to note, one of which was from Sri Lanka (full text of study here). They found that in countries where goiter was prevalent and iodine was then added to their food, in the subsequent years autoimmune thyroid markers were then found in residents of those countries, implying that iodine supplementation was causing the increase.

This spike in the incidence of autoimmune thyroid is my ND’s main concern. However, Dr. Datis Kharrazian believes in supplementing iodine if you’re hypothyroid and you don’t already have autoimmune thyroid. In other words, Dr. Kharrazian, who is well known for his work on thyroid issues, is ok with supplementing iodine in some cases.

Doing It The Old Fashioned Way
So now I’m actually thoroughly confused and a little afraid of iodine supplementation, but what I came away with was this: after I’m tested (with a blood test – not that urine test) for iodine deficiency, I’m going to start making my bone broth with seaweed in it and incorporating sea vegetables into my diet wherever I can. I’m going to do it the old fashioned way – get a bunch of traditional Japanese cookbooks and omit the rice from the recipes. Seaweed has a ton of iodine and other minerals in it, and traditional people have been eating it since the dawn of eating. I know, I know: seaweed has heavy metals in it. Well, I’ll buy mine from “clean” sources and take my chances. And I’ll take my selenium to negate the potentially autoimmune inducing effects of iodine (search this podcast for “selenium” for more info) and I’ll continue to do research. In the meantime, I’ll hope that my breasts start hurting less.

What About YOU?
As far as YOU’RE concerned, this is something you need to decide for yourself, since the information seems to be so completely erratic. See a naturopath or holistic MD who’s knowledgeable on this stuff if you want guidance. And if you do choose to take iodine, it seems like increasing your dose slowly is wise. Start at 250 mcg a day and double it from there every week to 10 days or so and monitor your symptoms. You want to get iodine and iodide if you’re going to take it (or so I’ve read – who knows what’s true). I was looking at Iodoral or Lugol’s solution. You can find them online. Again, I’m not telling you to take it – I’m just telling you what I found out. Supplement at your own risk. One of the last things my ND said to me just now was “You might have less breast pain for a while, but is that worth Hashimoto’s down the road?”

Decisions, decisions…