You’re Probably Iodine Deficient

You’re probably iodine deficient because most people reading this will be American, and most Americans are iodine deficient. Whether it will cause out-and-out disease in your body depends on whether you have any physical “weak links”, so to speak.

I have a history of “hot” thyroid nodules – nodules that spew thyroid hormone without regard for what my body  needs, making me hyperthyroid. I had a partial thyroidectomy when I was 19, and most of my thyroid was removed. My doctor told me to take synthroid for the rest of my life to suppress my thyroid activity, but I didn’t and I was fine for many years. But recently the nodules recurred.

The problem was caught in a blood test. Again my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was very low, indicating that my body somehow already had enough hormone – i.e., nodules again. It occurred to me that I had recently switched from regular, iodized salt to sea salt, which is not fortified with iodine. So I did a google search to see if iodine deficiency could cause hot thyroid nodules. The answer was yes, so I then researched supplements. After taking a high dose supplement (details below) for about a month, two miraculous things happened:

  1. My thyroid nodules went away and my thyroid levels returned to normal.
  2. My ulcerative colitis went into complete remission for the first time in 10 years. (HUH?!?!)

It turned out that my two assumed-to-be-unrelated conditions were actually related – to an iodine deficit. Iodine is heavily absorbed in the bowel, as well as the thyroid (and a few other areas, notably breast tissue). Both thyroid problems and inflammatory bowel disease run in my family. Apparently I inherited an above-average need for iodine, and/or my thyroid and bowel were vulnerable.

Iodine Supplementation

Here are the links for the iodine supplement and accompanying book I bought on Amazon:

Supplement: Optimox Iodoral 180 tabs
Book: Iodine: Why you need it, Why you can’t live without it by David Brownstein, M.D.

Iodoral, the iodine/iodide supplement, is very high dosage and the only one of its kind. The only other supplement in this dosage with both iodine and iodide is a foul tasting liquid. This is the only tablet. The associated book explains the science. It’s self-published and not well-organized, but the information is documented and the studies appear solid – solid enough that I tried it, and it’s working in my body. I had my thyroid levels checked before and after taking the supplement, with these results:

Before iodine One month on iodine
Mar 8, 2012 (normal range) Jul 19, 2012 (normal range)
T3 131 (71-180 ng/dL) T3 (total) 0.82 (0.80-2.00 ng/ml)
T4 8.7 (4.5-12.0 ug/dL) 5.1 (4.5-11.7 mcg/dl)
TSH 0.013 (0.45-4.500 uIU/mL) TSH (ultrasensitive) 2.690 (0.270-4.200 uIU/ml)

The very low TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) before I started the supplement was a sign that my “hot” thyroid nodules were back (confirmed by scan). After taking the iodine supplement, my TSH became normal – a sign that the nodules went away. Insufficient iodine sometimes causes nodules, and sometimes causes hypothyroidism. Iodine supplementation also put my colitis into remission, which I did not expect. I later found this journal article, confirming the link between iodine deficiency and inflammatory bowel disease:

Brownstein’s book argues persuasively that everyone needs iodine supplementation. It says that the US RDA for iodine is grossly underestimated. Iodized salt (which I’d stopped using right before my nodules came back) does not give enough iodine. The iodine intake levels in Japan are much higher than the US because of the sea vegetables they eat, and their rates of thyroid disease are vastly lower. Your whole body uses iodine. It’s especially used in breast tissue, and prevents breast cancer. It’s also heavily absorbed by the bowel (which is why iodine deficiency can cause inflammatory bowel disease). Even without outright disease from iodine deficiency,  people commonly experience decreased energy levels. Plus iodine keeps certain toxic substances from taking residence in your tissues – a good thing. But for this reason, when you first start taking Iodoral, there can be some detox symptoms.

Here are some links with info:

Iodine: Its Role In Health and Disease
Iodine:  An Important Detoxification Tool – this site sells the gross-tasting liquid version of the iodine I mentioned. You shouldn’t buy this – buy the pill. But the detox information still applies. Iodine has a detoxifying effect on the body which can be uncomfortable at first if you tend to eat a junky diet. I had almost no detox symptoms – just a bit of a headache the first week and nothing after that. But if you read the reviews for the supplement on Amazon, you’ll see some complaints about skin breakouts and feeling crappy (these are the 1-star reviews). These are detox reactions from a lifetime of junk food (the comments explain). It’s temporary, and you’re better off getting the poisons out of you.

Each Iodoral tablet contains 12.5mg of iodine and iodide. A maintenance dose is 0.11mg per pound of body weight. So if you weight, for example, 140 pounds, you’d multiply 140*0.11=15.4mg recommended daily dose. Each pill is 12.5mg. You can cut pills in half, so you could take 1.5 pills. That would give you 18.75mg – a little over, but that’s okay. Taking more than you need is not a problem – you just pee out the extra. So in this case 1.5 pills per day would be your maintenance dose.

But before you can take a maintenance dose, you need to get iodine sufficient. That requires taking more than your maintenance dose for a few months so your iodine-deficient tissues can absorb a baseline of iodine. The book recommends taking 50mg per day (4 pills) for 3 months. You can minimize any detox effects by slowly increasing the dose rather than starting with 50mg per day. This is what I did, except that I found I couldn’t tolerate 50mg (4 pills) per day – it gave me headaches (from iodism), so I cut back to 37.5mg  or 3 pills per day.

I started with half a pill for a week, then a whole pill for a week, then 1.5 pills for a week, then two pills for a week, and then 3 pills per day for 3 months. I probably could have ramped up faster because I experienced almost no detox symptoms.

After 3 months, I took a test for iodine sufficiency. I bought the test kit from here:

Hakala Labs

The lab is owned by the guy who manufactures and sells Iodoral. It’s a 24-hour urine test. They couldn’t mail the test kit to New York State because of its nanny laws, so I had to have them mail it to Vermont, where I have a PO box. I also bought the bromide test option (to see if that was detoxed out of my body). The results showed I have no bromide in me. But after 3 months I was only halfway to iodine sufficiency (45%), probably because I was taking only 37.5mg per day, and probably also because I have a higher-than-average need for iodine, as evidenced by my family history of thyroid disease (mother, brother, and grandmother also had/have nodules). Had I been iodine sufficient, I’d have dropped to 1 or 1.5 pills per day for life. Since I was not yet, I continued to take 3 pills a day for another 3 or 4 months. I am now iodine sufficient. My thyroid hormone levels remain normal, and my ulcerative colitis is still in remission.

Other Health Impacts

I mentioned at the start of this post that iodine is heavily absorbed in the breasts, as well as the bowel and the thyroid. Brownstein says that iodine supplementation has been successful in treating and preventing fibrocystic breasts, and protecting against breast cancer, and well as various other problems.

I’m not a doctor, so please don’t treat this post as medical advice. I am just passing along information that I found helpful in my own life. I hope it’s helpful to someone else, but please consult your doctor if you have questions.

74 thoughts on “You’re Probably Iodine Deficient

  1. I have Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease and thyroid nodules I started seeing doctor Dash in Davie Florida for my condition he started me on nature throid and vitamin C and selenium and iodine capsules twice a day my neck goiter is still very visible to me I wish the treatment I am taking now had made a big difference but I don’t notice one thank you

  2. First, a disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, and I’m not an expert in Hashimoto’s Disease.

    I can say a few things, though:

    1. I’m sure “Nature Thyroid” has no where near the amount of iodine as the Iodoral – the supplement mentioned in my article. No other iodine supplement has this much iodine. You surely are not taking enough iodine to make a difference.

    2. All autoimmune diseases benefit from a paleo diet, because there is a theory, supported by research, that neolithic foods trigger autoimmune disease in vulnerable people due to their causing leaky gut. The proteins in the neolithic foods that escape into the blood stream are mistaken by the immune system for foreign invaders, triggering the autoimmune process in various parts of the body, depending on the individual.

    3. I’ve never heard of Vitamin C helping an autoimmune condition or a thyroid condition, and I have both. I suggest you get a second opinion. I’m not too impressed with your Dr. Dash, based on what you’ve told me he prescribed. Just my personal opinion. And again, I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

  3. Hi, just purchased lugols 2% iodine. Started it on Tuesday. 1 drop in braggs organic cider vinegar. Tried two drops in vinegar on Friday and Saturday. Noticed I am sleeping a deeper better sleep but today I began spotting blood from vaginal area. I am 68 and stopped my period at 59. So I am thinking I am having an adverse reaction to iodine.

    Will stop it today. Has anyone, that you know of, ever complained of a similar problem?

    It is not a symptom of detox so I am concerned that I may be causing myself harm.

    I have 6 thyroid nodules and one of them had a minimal increase and doctor wanted to do a biopsy…which I turned down. Started iodine to, hopefully, get them to shrink.
    I have been taking selenium for years but have not been told to use a thyroid pill to keep nodules from getting bigger. Doctors say thyroid meds to stop nodules from getting bigger is a myth.

    If stopping iodine ceases bleeding then I guess its the iodine, if not, will have to make an appointment with OBGYN.

    Are there any other supplements that could help shrink nodules?

    Not looking for medical advice — just wondering if anyone using iodine has began bleeding after menopause. Thanks for any direction.

  4. I had just read that it is common for ppl to bleed after menopause. however, it happens when there is less testosterone in your system and more estrogen. Now by taking the iodine to correct the thyroid, the thyroid is your hormone powerhouse. so my guess is the iodine is causing it. But to say how long it will last or if you should continue I would check with your doctor. I would assume your body is evening itself out. But again, ask your doctor.

  5. I have heard that liquid iodine supplements are more easily absorbed in the body. Have you had any experience with liquid supplementation?

  6. I’ve been researching nascent iodine by Dr Edward Group and decided to start taking his a month ago. Its very palatable and it’s better for you because it’s in a glycerin base versus an alcohol one.

  7. Hi Sheryl! I was wondering how you felt about liquid iodine supplements? I had heard they are better than a tablet because they immediately take effect. Would you be able to compare the one you recommended with something like Cedar Bear’s Xodine?

  8. I just started taking 1/2 tab of the Iodoral (6.25 mg) once in the a.m. My temperature was 98.6 this morning – the first time my temp has been normal for ever – it’s usually 95.5 in the a.m. However, after the 2nd day, I have a slight frontal headache. I’m wondering if I should keep taking it, or up the dose or lower it?

  9. I’m a Crohn’s disease patient 🙂 and for years i noticed that my body temperature is lower then what it should be and especially in winter i feel my head is cold so i wear a hat.
    So one of the things i tried was taking Iodine especially from Kelp origin but with no success.
    The only thing that rose my body temperature in the past was taking an amino acid called L-Tyrosine but that amino acid caused problems of its own.
    Recently I tried Iodine supplement of NOW company that contains 225mcg which is about 150% of daily recommended consumption.
    Several days after i started, i felt high energy, which was good, but my pulse rate and blood pressure rose.
    After two weeks i rushed to emergency room cause of Thyroid Storm which was mainly high pulse rate (130) and high blood pressure.
    Only in ER i understood that it was caused by the iodine supplement so i stopped it
    I also done blood test and my TSH is 0.97 uIU/mL which is the same for many years and i also done a US scan and found that i have a nodule.
    I should be doing more test to see what are the levels of T3 and T4 even if in the past they were in the normal range.
    I also for years feel here and there a feeling of swollen thyroid and difficulties of swallowing sometimes.
    So i’m confused.
    Or i have enough iodine in my body and there is no need for more and taking supplement cause hyperthyroidism or maybe its the nodule?
    Maybe the nodule is cancerous?

  10. Are there any healthcare professionals in the US besides Dr. Abraham and Dr. Brownstein (both not taking new patients) who are very good at testing for and dealing with complex thyroid issues? Thanks.

  11. Hi Sheryl,
    I too was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and was also prescribed Iodine supplements 12.5 mg/day with selenium and zinc, and NP Thyroid. I had to stop taking the NP Thyroid because I was getting up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I am pre-menopausal and am frustrated because I do not know what is causing this anxiety and insomnia which I have not had since I was pregnant many years ago. I heard a very informative video on iodine deficiency by Dr. Flechas. He mentioned it has a stimulant effect like caffeine which I am sensitive to, therefore, I am wondering if this could have been causing the anxiety/insomnia. Have you or has anyone experienced this? I know I need Iodine supplements to heal my thyroid and wondering if this could be what is causing my Female hormone issues. Thank you.

  12. I wonder if you are aware that the accuracy of the tests you took measuring T3, T4 and TSH are perhaps not accurate?

    it is becoming increasingly clear that TSH and T4 levels are not the reliable markers of tissue thyroid levels as once thought. Also, While there are limitations to all testing and there is no perfect test, obtaining free triiodothyronine, reverse triiodothyronine, and triiodothyronine/reverse-triiodothyronine ratios can be helpful to obtain a more accurate evaluation of tissue thyroid status and may be useful to predict those who may respond favorably to thyroid supplementation. source-

  13. Ok, just trying to help. FYI, people at the site I referenced are also doctors who specialize in endocrinology. Good luck, your posting is valuable.

  14. I have had dozens of clients in my charitable health coaching use liquid Lugols Solutions and have yet to hear a single person refer to the taste even in just water as “foul” or “horrible”. That includes family members having used that and only that method of Iodine intake for years. I don’t sell product. Lodoral is awesome but oddly have read often of the horrors of Lugols Liquid taste in print but never in person. Nascent and Lodoral are excellent but just perplexed because I believe it said you never tried Lugols Solution liquid orally. One Brwonstein strongly suggests yet today. Dr. Jorge Flechas along with Dr. Brownstein were the proteges of the late great Iodine master, Dr. Guy Abraham. Flechas has got some excellent videos that address nearly everything I have read in the comments to this point. Thank you for the excellent article and congratulations on the healing. By the way….many digestive and hormonal issues to include the Iodine rich ovaries, breast, prostate, etc…of which the ovaries actually produce thyroid hormone as well, respond and heal from Iodine intake because the disease etiology is fungal of which Iodine wipes out while the potassium iodide eliminates their mycotoxins after they kill the fungus/yeast. Lots and lots of science on PubMed and on that. Blessings. T

  15. I’ve never tried the liquid iodine myself, so I can’t personally attest to the taste. I only can say that I’ve continued to use Iodoral (pills), and my thyroid function remains normal to this day, 6 years after I wrote this article. The hot nodules are still gone.

  16. in my mid 40’s i started snoring, getting stiff muscles, insomnia, seemed like I always had lactic acid dwelling in my muscles, epspecially my shoulders. it was uncomfortable to turn my head or raise my arms above my head.
    I had this for years. I was functionally sick, i carried on but tried vitimins and eating healthier, and never drank before or after.
    I stumbled on to Iodine and zinc supplements. I don’t know what triggered me to try this, but i did. I think it was a message from God as fare as i know. but months after taking these along with vitimin k1,k2,k3, d3, and iodine, my symptoms slowly faded over months. I stopped snoring, my muscle aches went away, insomnia went away, oh my sex drive has returned. for got to mention that i was hampered in that respect also. I started reading more bout the iodine, and saw that adeniod glands in the throat can swell if low in iodine. i think they shrank. endocrine system and produce melontonin better naturally when iodine is in the glands, so i sleep better. so i think the lactic acid can leave my muscles now since my endocrine system is functioning better. I am sticking with the iodine. the more i read the more i am convinced my quality of life is better and will be better with concentrations of iodine in my body. I use Kelp as my source.

  17. Sheryl Canter how is your ulcerative colitis doing after all this time. I was diagnosed with UC this year and am looking for all the options available. I was diagnosed with hypothyroid 7 years ago.

    are you also using medicine for your thyroid and UC

    ps: Thank your for sharing your experience

  18. Hello Sheryl,

    Just wandering how you’re doing today?
    I came across this website some time ago and decided to give the iodine a try.

    I’ve had Graves’ disease for many years and my TT in 2014. Recently I’ve had some GI issues and was wondering if they’re related to my condition so I ordered the iodine and been using it for last few days.

    I was wondering if the iodine pills can stain the stool samples as I can see section of my stool now looking maroon red colored. I’m seeing my GI next week to discuss my current condition with him…

  19. Thank you for this article as I have a headache since starting off with too much Iodine off the bat. My husband says I always do that. I’m just relieved to know what the cause is.

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