encyclopedia

Iodine

Natural Sources:     

Kelp, watercress, seafood, saltwater fish, iodized salt, asparagus, eggs, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sea salt, sesame seeds, soybeans, summer squash, Swiss chard, nutritional yeast, and turnip greens are good sources of dietary iodine.     

Forms:     

Herbal teas containing the kelp species, Laminaria digitata; Standardized iodine capsules, tablets and liquid supplements; multivitamin pills containing iodine.     

Therapeutic Uses:     

Aging Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease
Bone Health
Brain Development
Brain Functioning
Breast Cancer
Cancer Prevention
Cellular Regeneration
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Cretinism (Neonatal hypothyroidsim)
Endocrine System Disorders
Energy Loss
Fatigue
Fetal Development
Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Fibroids
Goiter
Hypothyroidism
Hormone Balance
Mental Retardation in children (Prevention)
Mineral Deficiency (RDA=150mcg/day)
Mood Disorders
Mood Swings
Nervous System Health
Osteomalacia Prevention
Osteoporosis
PMS
Uterine Fibroids
Weight Gain     

Overview:     

The element iodine, classified as a halogen, was discovered by a chemist named Courtois in 1811. The name comes from the Greek word, iodes, meaning violet, which describes the color of iodine vapor. Iodine occurs sparingly in seawater in the form of iodides and is concentrated in seaweed and other seafood. Iodine is essential to human health. Iodine is a major component of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones responsible for maintaining cellular metabolic rates, regulating growth, reproduction, nerve and muscle function, the synthesis of proteins, the growth of skin and hair, and the use of oxygen by cells. Iodine also helps to metabolize fat and is important for mental development. Iodine deficiency is most well known to cause goiter, a painful enlargement of the thyroid gland. Because people in coastal fishing communities did not develop goiter, it was soon found that the essential component in seafood was iodine. Iodine is also critically important for maintaining estrogen balance within the body. Based on a controlled clinical trial with 1,365 women, 4mg daily of molecular iodine quickly “resolves” fibrocystic breast disease – it makes breast lumps and cysts disappear usually within only two months for most women. Iodine can similarly reduce uterine fibroids and one of the first conventional medical treatments for severe fibroids was to paint the uterus with iodine. Potassium iodide in alcohol is used for preventing infections in minor cuts and other wounds. More than half of the body's iodine is stored in the thyroid gland – and having a full stock can prevent the body from taking up radioactive iodine in the tragic event of a nuclear explosion*. Iodine found in nature is a stable isotope, 127I. However, there are twenty-nine radioactive isotopes released by nuclear reactions that can do damage to the human body if inhaled or ingested.

*Note: Radioactive iodine can travel around the globe in winds following a nuclear explosion such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Hiroshima. It is considered the most toxic component of nuclear winds because of its ability to concentrate in the thyroid gland and damage the organ. This is particularly a problem in children under age four because of the small size of their thyroid gland. In November 2001, the FDA publicized that “it regards potassium iodide (KI) to be a safe and effective means by which to prevent radioiodine uptake by the thyroid gland, under certain specified conditions of use, to thereby obviate the risk of thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation emergency.”

Chemistry:     

Iodine is a bluish-black, lustrous solid, called a halogen, that vaporizes at ordinary temperatures into a blue-violet gas with an irritating odor. The deep blue color with starch solution is characteristic of the free element. Iodine is found concentrated in seaweed and other seafood, as well as in Chilean saltpeter, brackish waters from oil and salt wells and nitrate-bearing earth known as caliche in brines from old sea deposits. Iodine forms compounds with many elements, but is less active than the other halogens, which displace it from iodides. The most common compounds are the iodides of sodium and potassium (KI) and the iodates (KIO3). Potassium Iodide (chemical name 'KI') is the ingredient added to table salt to make it iodized salt. Potassium Iodide (KI) is approximately 76.5% iodine. Several iodine compounds are also very useful in medicine including iodides, and thyroxine, which contains iodine. Thirty isotopes are recognized. Only one stable isotope, 127I is found in nature. The artificial radioisotope 131I, with a half-life of 8 days, has been used in treating thyroid gland hyperactivity.     

Suggested Amount:     

Based on the National Institutes for Health Expert Panel, 1994, the recommended daily allowance for iodine is between 40-200 mcg daily, depending upon age and reproductive status as follows:

– Infants, birth to six months old – 40 mcg
– Infants, six months to one year old – 50 mcg
– Children, one to three years old – 70 mcg
– Children, four to six years old – 90 mcg
– Children, seven to ten years old – 120 mcg
– Children and adults, ages eleven and older – 150 mcg
– Women, pregnant – 175 mcg
– Women, lactating – 200 mcg

Important Note: The RDA for iodine is at least 1.0 – 2.0 mg per week for adults but even up to 4mg daily seems to be very beneficial for many women. Based on recent studies it appears that the above RDA's may be far too low. However, caution must be exercised with iodine because too much iodine can cause hyperthyroidism and heart palpitations. Iodine in doses greater than 25 times the RDA (approximately 3.75mg daily) can produce “iodide goiter” in sensitive persons, a hyperactive, enlarged thyroid gland. Doses of less than 25 times the RDA are not a health concern. People suffering from hypothyroidism should limit their food intake of foods that block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland when consumed raw in large amounts. These foods include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, peaches, pears, spinach, and turnips. Kelp is a good source of bioavailable iodine. One gram of kelp of the species Laminaria digitata contains approximately 5mg of iodine and including kelp in the diet can easily and safely maintain adequate dietary levels. Molecular iodine with a dosage of 4mg daily helps to resolve cyclical breast lumps and cysts – including those that precede breast cancer.  Iodine is hypothesized to exert antiestrogen effects by reducing the sensitivity of estrogen receptors to circulating estrogen. Other studies show that iodine stimulates enzymatic pathways within the body that increase the circulating levels of estriol and reduce levels of estradiol and estrone – a very favorable effect for maintaining health and preventing cancer.

Drug Interactions:     

Sulfonylureas, phenylbutazone, cobalt, and lithium can impair the uptake or release of iodine by the thyroid gland. Persons taking any of these medications should speak with their doctor about taking iodine supplements. Vitamin B12 malabsorption has also been reported with the use of slow-release potassium iodide. Therefore, do not take iodine supplements within 2 hours of taking vitamin B12 supplements for maximum absorption of vitamin B12. Iodine supplements and the iodine content in kelp and other iodine-rich foods (including from fast-food meals such as from MacDonalds) may cause hyper- or hypothyroidism, if taken in excessive amounts, and may interfere with existing treatment for abnormal thyroid function.     

Contraindications:     

Persons suffering from abnormal thyroid functions should consult their doctor before taking iodine supplements and/or consuming large amounts of iodine-rich foods including kelp, seafood and other iodine-rich foods including from fast-food meals such as from MacDonalds. Acne sufferers should also speak with their doctor prior to taking iodine.     

Side Effects:     

Hyper- and hypothyroidism have been associated with the excessive ingestion of iodine. Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, sweating, fatigue, heart palpitations and frequent soft stools. Excessive iodine has also been associated with acne eruptions and may aggravate pre-existing acne. Hypothyroidism from iodine deficiency causes a painful enlargement of the thyroid, known as goiter. In a similar fashion, doses greater than 25 times the RDA can produce “iodide goiter,” a hyperactive, enlarged goiter. Symptoms of iodine overdose include a metallic taste and sores in the mouth, heart palpitations, irregular heart beat, swollen salivary glands, diarrhea and vomiting.

For an acute overdose, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately. For symptoms of chronic overdose, contact a physician.

Caution:

Care should be taken in handling and using iodine, as contact with the skin can cause lesions; iodine vapor is intensely irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes. Avoid breathing in iodine vapors.

References:     

Carmen Tamayo, MD, Mary Ann Richardson, DrPH, Suzanne Diamond, M.Sc., and Inga Skoda, 2000. The Chemistry and Biological Activity of Herbs Used in Flor-Essence Herbal Tonic and Essiac. Phytotherapy Research 14: 1-14
 
Dedyna, K. 1997 (September). Iodine: Bosom Buddy. Victoria Times Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
 
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 278; 332-333. Rodale Press.
 
Ghent WR, Eskin BA, Low D.A. , and Lucius PH. 1993. Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg 36 (5): 453-460.
 
Wright, J.  M.D. Reducing the Hormone Related Cancer Risk (Or cabbages, sex hormones and their metabolites).

Additional Information:     

Iodine Deficiency Symptoms:
Iodine deficiency is a major cause of impaired mental development, goiter, and cretinism (fetal hypothyroidism) in many parts of the world. Infant mortality is also increased by iodine deficiency and incidence can be reduced by oral iodine supplementation. Symptoms of iodine deficiency include low energy, lethargy, depression, headaches, low body temperature, unusual sensitivity to cold, weight gain, decreased libido, dry skin, painful menstrual periods, slow reflexes, recurrent infections and in severe cases, thyroid enlargement. Severe symptoms can also cause a life-threatening condition known as myxedema. It is also thought that many so-called allergic diseases may in fact be due to thyroid disorders.

Positive Clinical Results for Reducing Infant Mortality with Oral Iodine
 
Cobra C, Muhilal, Rusmil K, Rustama D, Djatnika, Suwardi SS, Permaesih D, Muherdiyantiningsih, Martuti S, Semba RD. 1997. Infant survival is improved by oral iodine supplementation. J Nutr 1997 Apr; 127(4): 574-8. Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
 
Abstract from Medline: Although reports suggest that infant mortality is increased during iodine deficiency, the effect of iodine supplementation on infant mortality is unknown. A double-masked, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of oral iodized oil was conducted in Subang, West Java, Indonesia to evaluate the effect of iodine supplementation on infant mortality. Infants were allocated to receive placebo or oral iodized oil (100 mg) at about 6 wk of age and were followed to 6 months of age. Six hundred seventeen infants were enrolled in the study. Infant survival was apparently improved, as indicated by a 72% reduction in the risk of death during the first 2 months of follow-up (P < 0.05) and a delay in the mean time to death among infants who died in the iodized oil group compared with infants who died in the placebo group (48 days vs. 17.5 d, P = 0.06). Other infant characteristics associated with reduced risk of death included weight-for-age at base line, consumption of solid foods, female gender and recent history of maternal iodine supplementation. Oral iodized oil supplementation had a stronger effect on the mortality of males compared with females. This study suggests that oral iodized oil supplementation of infants may reduce infant mortality in populations at risk for iodine deficiency.
 
Positive Clinical Results for Administering Oral Iodine with Oral Vaccines
 
Taffs RE, Enterline JC, Rusmil K, Muhilal, Suwardi SS, Rustama D, Djatnika, Cobra C, Semba RD, Cohen N, Asher DM. 1999. Oral iodine supplementation does not reduce neutralizing antibody responses to oral poliovirus vaccine. Bull World Health Organ 1999; 77(6): 484-91. Laboratory of Method Development, US Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD 20852-1448, USA.
 
Abstract from Medline: Iodine deficiency is a major cause of impaired mental development, goiter, and cretinism in many parts of the world. Because existing immunization programs can be used to deliver oral iodized oil (OIO) to infants at risk, it was important to know whether OIO could adversely affect the antibody response to vaccines, such as trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in Subang, West Java, Indonesia, in which 617 eight-week-old infants received either OIO or a placebo (poppy-seed oil) during a routine visit for their first dose of OPV as part of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). The infants received two boosters of OPV at 4-week intervals after the first dose, and were followed up when 6 months old. Neutralizing antibody titres to poliovirus serotypes 1, 2, and 3 were compared in serum samples that were taken from 478 of these infants just before the first dose of OPV and at 6 months. It was found that oral iodized oil did not reduce the antibody responses to any of the three serotypes of OPV. These results indicate that oral iodine may safely be delivered to infants at the same time as oral poliovirus vaccine according to current EPI immunization schedules.

*Iodine for Preventing Radiation Damage to the Thyroid
The below article is taken by permission from http://www.ki4u.com.
 
As Chernobyl proved, and health experts now agree, the greatest health concerns affecting the largest number of people from a nuclear accident or explosion are likely to be from radioactive iodine readily carried by the winds many miles downwind from the site of a nuclear event. Many governments around the world are now stockpiling potassium iodide. Amongst them are Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Sweden, and Russia, but, amazingly, not the U.S.
 
Radioactive Iodine (Radioiodine) is a major radioisotope constituent of both nuclear power plant accidents and nuclear bomb explosions and can travel hundreds of miles on the winds. Thyroid cancer attributable to Chernobyl “…has been documented up to 500 km from the accident site.” Even very small amounts of inhaled or ingested radioiodine can do grave damage as it will always concentrate, and be retained, in the small space of the thyroid gland. Eventually giving such a large radiation dose to thyroid cells there that abnormalities are likely to result, such as loss of thyroid function, nodules in the thyroid, or thyroid cancer. (Each year 12,000 Americans discover they have thyroid cancer and about 1000 die from it. Chernobyl has shown, and continues to reveal, that the greatest danger from radioiodine is to the tiny thyroid glands of children. Researchers have found that in certain parts of Belarus, for example, 36.4 per cent of children, who were under the age of four at the time of the accident, can expect to develop thyroid cancer. Health experts now estimate that the greatest health concerns affecting the largest number of people from a nuclear accident, or nuclear bomb explosion(s) anywhere in the world, will likely be from the release of radioiodine that is then carried downwind for hundreds of miles. While there will also be many other dangerous radioisotopes released along with radioiodine, if they are inhaled or ingested they are normally dispersed throughout a body and pose less of a risk than if they were to be concentrated into one small specific area of the body, like radioiodine is in the thyroid gland. So, as a plume or cloud of radioactive isotopes disperses with the wind its danger also diminishes, but much less quickly so for radioiodine because whatever little there is that's inhaled will always then be concentrated into that small space of the thyroid gland. The good news is that taking either Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) before exposure will saturate (fill up) a persons thyroid gland with safe stable iodine to where there is no room for later uptake of radioactive iodine. Once the thyroid is saturated, then any additional iodine (radioactive or stable) that is later inhaled or ingested is quickly eliminated via the kidneys.
 
The bad news is that after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl all available KI and KIO3 supplies disappeared for months, almost overnight! The KI and KIO3 market is very thin and current limited inventory will be quickly depleted in any nuclear emergency occurring anywhere in the world. (At www.ki4u.com we expect to be 'out of business' within 24-hours of any nuclear emergency simply because we'll be totally sold-out with no illusions of getting re-supplied again any time soon!)
 
Potassium Iodide (KI) and/or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) has already been stockpiled by most developed countries for future nuclear emergencies, they figured it out after Chernobyl, but here in the USA they've only just begun. (We just sold 300,000 doses to HHS Office of Emergency Preparedness.) However, very limited quantities are available for individual purchase in the USA by the public. (Potassium Iodide (KI) has long been recognized and approved by the FDA for sale for this purpose without a prescription. Unfortunately, it is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that's to be found on too few counters here in the USA!)
 
The KI and KIO3 formulations currently available on the market today in the USA are all available at http://www.ki4u.com.
 
Potassium Iodide (chemical name 'KI') is much more familiar too most than they might first expect. It is the ingredient added to your table salt to make it iodized salt. Potassium Iodide (KI) is approximately 76.5% iodine.
 
For purposes of radiation protection the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) states in COMSECY-98-016 – FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE ON POTASSIUM IODIDE:

“In 1978, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found KI “safe and effective” for use in radiological emergencies and approved its over-the-counter sale.”

Most recently (November 2001) the FDA states in Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies:
“FDA maintains that KI is a safe and effective means by which to prevent radioiodine uptake by the thyroid gland, under certain specified conditions of use, and thereby obviate the risk of thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation emergency.”
 
“With news of the recent tensions in the Mid-East and elsewhere, and continuing reports of the growing numbers of thyroid cancers amongst unprotected Chernobyl victims, Americans are increasingly seeking out their own sources for these radiation protection medicines,” says Author, Shane Connor. “Some are even buying them with concerns of suit-case nuclear bomb terrorism, or fear a nuclear exchange overseas where radioactive fallout then reaches out to our shores here via the winds.”
Connors latest work, the comprehensive “Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ,” which draws extensively from government agencies, medical sources and qualified experts, fully answers:
 

  • What Is Potassium Iodide (KI)?
  • How Does Potassium Iodide Provide Anti-Radiation Protection?
  • Is This The Magic Anti-Radiation Pill
  • Radioactive Iodine: Bad News / Good News
  • Dosage and Safety Regarding Potassium Iodide Usage
  • Is Iodized Salt, Sea Salt, Fish, Kelp, or other Iodine Sources Effective
  • Is the Government Ready with Emergency Stocks of Potassium Iodide
  • What's The NRC's “Fighter Jet Rule” on KI (by 23 year NRC veteran!)
  • Will KI Flush Radioactive Iodine Out of the Thyroid Gland
  • Where are the sources for KI over-the-counter
  • What About Potassium Iodate (KIO3)
  • Long Term Stability of Stocked Potassium Iodide
  • How Much Personally Stocked KI is Enough
  • When Should I Take KI
  • For How Long Should I Take KI

 
However, American citizens aren't waiting anymore; they are discovering why and where to buy it on their own,” Connor says. (Currently over 1,200 unique visitors daily via word-of-mouth alone.) Connor says, “Visitors to the FAQ come looking for, and are finding, reliable anti-radiation pill information and resources to protect their families from future nuclear emergencies. He continues, “The FAQ visitors also discover that, after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, all available potassium iodide supplies disappeared for months, almost overnight. They are wanting to put some aside today for their families and an uncertain future.”
 
The author of the FAQ at http://www.ki4u.com, Shane Connor from South Texas, has been a life-long advocate of family preparedness. He equates stocking away some anti-radiation pills to the Life and medical insurance his Dad, at 74, still sells. “Just like buying insurance to protect our families, just-in-case, we also still hope and pray never to have to use it anytime soon.”
 
For more information visit the Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill Frequently Asked Questions website at http://www.ki4u.com.