07.10.13 IODINE - DR SEAN SILVERNAGEL M.D.
Iodine is a trace element that is both poorly understood and under researched. Biologically, it is one of the safest trace elements and can be administered without side effects in very high doses in an inorganic nonradioactive form. To grasp how important this element is, realize that it is stored in every organ of the body including skin (the largest organ of the human body), bone, teeth, and even hair. Intuitively, one would assume we all consume enough iodine in our diet as salt is supplemented with iodine. Unfortunately, the iodine added to salt is poorly absorbed by the body, and one would need to consume about 20 teaspoons of salt a day to meet one’s daily needs. So unless you enjoy a salt lick every day like our equestrian friends, odds are you are iodine deficient. Furthermore, our modern day diet contains significant doses of chlorine, fluoride and bromide which actually competitively block both the intake and body’s usage of iodine. Studies show us that 50% of all Americans, if not more, are iodine deficient. How deficient? Americans typically intake 240 micrograms of iodine daily. Sounds like a lot until you realize that the Japanese typically intake 12,000 micrograms a day. That’s an enormous magnitude of difference.
So for many of you, this might be as interesting as a lecture on Austrian economic theory, which I would highly recommend, but what does this all mean? Well, the benefits of iodine are enormous and underappreciated, even among the medical community. Look at where we said the body stores iodine. EVERYWHERE, so the benefits are global. It decreases the rates of breast cancer and fibrocystic disease, and we can really see this when we compare the Japanese population to that of America. The Japanese have much lower rates of breast cancer compared to Americans, but this changes when the Japanese move to America and adopt the American diet. The oncologic benefits aren’t just limited to breast cancer. Studies have shown it helps reduce incidents of ovarian, uterine and prostate cancers.I understand most of us are less concerned about cancer, and more about our daily functioning. Again, iodine is crucial. Iodine plays an enormous role in thyroid health, specifically in the creation of the T3 and T4 hormones. These hormones circulate throughout the body and regulate one’s basal metabolic rate at the cellular level. With proper thyroid health, one is able to burn calories more efficiently and prevent the body from storing calories in the form of fat. Proper iodine levels lead to more energy all day long. Mental acuity and alertness is increased, emotional well being is elevated, memory is improved, and people report more restful sleep while needing fewer hours to achieve the same energy levels. Hair growth requires iodine and people with proper iodine levels have silkier, healthier hair. There are reports of iodine supplementation not just preventing hair loss but causing hair re-growth. Bowel function is improved, fingernails are reportedly stronger, and the list goes on.
I personally am supplementing with iodine and will be adding it to the diet of my family as well. I suggest using drops over tablets or pills as it is more biologically available in this form. The cancer prevention alone is worth the benefit, but from a daily activity stand point, this could be considered by some to be a miracle supplement. If one were to do an internet search and read the comments from people who started taking iodine, one would see amazing stories. People who were chronically depressed now happy and cheerful, people with chronic forgetfulness now with sharp memories, aches and pains disappearing, shiny lustrous hair, weight loss, restful sleep, and so on. This is 100% speculation on my part, but there have been many times in my life where I have craved salt, and my youngest son is the same way, to the point that I would actually eat it straight up. In retrospect, this may have been a biologic craving for iodine. Who knows? What I do know is that the potential benefits of iodine supplementation are numerous, and the typical diet does not generate enough for our body’s needs so we should all consider adding to this our daily supplements.