Iodine can be a hotly debated topic in the medical community. This essential mineral is necessary for proper thyroid function but many believe that iodine supplementation is not appropriate for those with a thyroid condition. This is only partially correct.
Iodine supplementation can be dangerous for thyroid patients with an autoimmune condition or if they already have appropriate iodine levels. However, reduced iodine levels can make thyroid treatments ineffective and cause thyroid patients to suffer from symptoms until the deficiency is resolved.
Those with a thyroid condition may require additional iodine intake from their diet or supplementation.
Understanding the significant impact that iodine has on the thyroid, while also recognizing the increasing rates of deficiency, can hopefully answer the question of whether thyroid patients should supplement with iodine.
What Is Iodine?
It is important to have a basic understanding of iodine when discussing thyroid function. In the past, iodine was used to treat enlarged thyroid glands also known as goiter. Current research informs us that in addition to helping resolve physical issues of the thyroid, iodine is a necessary component in the molecular structure of thyroid hormones and influences thyroid hormone production.
Iodine is such an integral element that thyroid hormones are named based on the number of iodine molecules attached. For example, T4 (the storage form of thyroid hormone) has four iodine molecules, T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone) has three iodine molecules and so on.
Lack of iodine can result in major thyroid dysfunction and deficiency.
In addition to thyroid function, iodine also supports other bodily functions including:
- Breast health
- Cancer prevention
- Early brain development
- Hormone stability
- Immune function
- Maintaining stomach acid levels
- Stabilizing metabolism and weight
Hypothyroidism and Iodine Deficiency
Even though the widespread iodization of foods in the United States during the 20th century significantly improved iodine levels, studies suggest iodine deficiency is on the rise!
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1971-74, 2.6% of US citizens were deficient. The follow-up survey in 1988-1994 showed that deficiency among US citizens had increased to 11.7%. As a critical component of thyroid function, it is not surprising that cases of hypothyroidism are increasing as well.
Some experts estimate that 20 million or more Americans suffer from hypothyroidism with many living without knowledge of their condition. Nutrient deficiency, particularly iodine, may be a major contributor of this elevated number – learn about the most common nutrient deficiencies in thyroid patients here.
Iodine is one of the three most common nutrient deficiencies (the other two being magnesium and vitamin D). Reduced iodine levels have been linked to thyroid conditions including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and goiter.
Unfortunately, as iodine levels continue to decrease, the rate of occurrence of thyroid disease, breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, prostate cancer, and obesity has increased in American adults.
It can be difficult to recognize deficiency. Indicators of iodine deficiency are similar to symptoms of hypothyroidism, which are commonly overlooked or disregarded.
Some symptoms of iodine deficiency include:
- Difficulty losing weight
- Dry or itchy skin
- Hair loss
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Resolving Deficiency and Improving Thyroid Function Through Supplementation
Resolving nutrient deficiencies can be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from a thyroid condition. Iodine is an integral part of thyroid production and the molecular structure of the hormone. Therefore, optimizing your iodine levels is a vital part of treating your thyroid condition.
Some patients have reported that they were able to decrease their dose of thyroid medication through iodine treatment and supplementation. Even though all thyroid patients may not experience this impressive result, iodine supplementation may improve symptoms and thyroid function.
Iodine taken on its own can be beneficial to bodily function. However, many experts state that iodine works best when taken with companion supplements that reduce the impact of chlorine, fluoride, and bromides, which inhibit iodine receptivity and diminishes the body’s ability to utilize it. Incorporating iodine supporting substances such as selenium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamins B2 and B3, and unrefined salt two to three months prior to iodine supplementation can boost its impact significantly. As with all supplements, speak with a physician before incorporating a new substance into your supplement regimen.
There are various methods for improving and optimizing iodine levels. Altering your diet to include more iodine-rich foods such as seaweed, cranberries, and potatoes can improve your iodine intake. However, if you do not have easy access or are allergic to many iodine-rich foods, you may benefit from the ease of iodine supplementation.
One option for acquiring high-quality iodine is by utilizing HoltraCeuticals’ Thyrodine. Rather than relying on a single form of iodine, Thyrodine is formulated with three different types: molecular iodine, potassium, iodine, and sodium iodine. This increases receptivity and improves utilization.
Risks with Iodine Supplementation and Autoimmune Conditions
Perhaps the reason there is a dispute over iodine supplementation and thyroid conditions is confusion regarding safety.
Iodine supplementation is greatly beneficial if a thyroid patient is suffering from a deficiency. However, autoimmune thyroid patients may experience significant worsening of their condition and a notable upsurge in symptoms when supplementing with iodine.
David Brownstein MD, hormone expert and Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI, warns that “Iodine supplementation in those that have an autoimmune thyroid problem can be akin to pouring gas over a fire. However, with hypothyroid conditions that are not autoimmune in nature, iodine-containing foods can actually help the thyroid function better.” Dr. Brownstein’s statement further drives the importance of getting an accurate analysis of your thyroid prior to supplementing with iodine. His stance also reinforces the position that appropriate supplementation with iodine can greatly benefit those with a non-autoimmune thyroid condition.
Supporting the Thyroid with Iodine
Without proper levels of iodine, the thyroid will never function properly. Therefore, resolving an iodine deficiency could be the key to restoring your thyroid function.
Speak with your physician about testing iodine levels and the possibility of supplementing with quality iodine products such as Thyroidine.