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Iodine - Know the dangers of taking too much or too little

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 by: Robert Kress RPh CCN
Tags: iodine, supplements, health news

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(NewsTarget) Chances are you have been hearing conflicting messages: "Stock up on iodine"; "Don't worry about it; you won't need it"; "It's dangerous and can cause further problems"; "It will protect you from radioactive fallout." It leaves you wondering what to believe.

And there is reason for such confusion and even distrust. Nuclear mishaps over the last few decades have shown government's response to such measures being questionable at best. One might say the walking the line between preventing public chaos and a national health incidence has become too thin.

Iodine is probably one of the most misunderstood nutrients of our time; although as the realization of its importance for whole body health grows, the volume of understanding is becoming much greater. When people think of iodine, they think of the thyroid gland because it accounts for approximately 60% of thyroid hormone production. This has led the CDC to create its daily recommendation of iodine to be just 150 mcg (micrograms) for the average adult for general thyroid health, which does not take into account the need in other areas of the body.

Iodine plays a major role in the health and wellness of the entire body. Aside from preventing thyroid goiters and nodules, iodine has proven to be critical for other iodine dependent tissues such as the breasts, prostate, reproductive organs, digestive tract and essentially all tissues of the body exposed to microbes and pathogens. This is partially due to iodine's antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral effects. This has led to practitioners making recommendations of daily iodine considerably higher than the current 150 mcg daily.

Many of the recommendations of how much iodine one should take have been distilled from studying cultures that eat iodine rich foods such as sea vegetables including dulse and kelp. It has been found that cultures such as the Japanese, where these foods are a regular staple to their diet, have lower incidences of breast and prostate cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.

The Japanese culture consumes at conservative estimates ten times more iodine than the United States averaging in between 1 1/2 mg to 6 mg daily, with some estimates going as high as 13 mg daily. So does this mean that we should be taking daily dosages in these higher amounts?

This recent nuclear scare should serve as a wake-up call. The iodine you consume in foods and supplements gets released from the body in 24 to 48 hours, which means daily consumption or supplementation of iodine is critical for maintaining iodine dependent health.

In recent days we have seen the need for iodine sway from general whole body health to protection from nuclear radiation. In this case iodine is used as a blocker; where from taking a mega dose of potassium iodide, the thyroid gland becomes saturated leaving no room for radioactive iodine to take hold. This is not a dose that someone should randomly consume if there is no real threat of radioactive exposure.

Taking too much iodine can have its consequences and may not be free of side-effects. Too much iodine can send someone in the state of hyperthyroidism or even a thyroid storm leading to headaches, nausea, a racing heart, and a very high fever, so it is important to take such extreme doses only under situations where there is a clear need.

Brownstein, David M.D. Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It

Zimmerman MB. Iodine Deficiency. Endocr Rev 2009;30(4):376-408.

Risher JF, Keith S. iodine and inorganic iodides; human health aspects. Concise international chemical assessment document #72:World Health Organization, 2009.

About the author

Robert B Kress RPH CCN, The Renegade Pharmacist has been bucking the trend of Big Pharma since he graduated pharmacy school in 1994.
In additional to conventional pharmacy, Robert has acquired expertise in kinesiology, bio-identical hormonal therapy and is a board certified clinical nutritionist.
After owning his own Alternative Pharmacy with his wife Amy, an expert in Longevity Skin care, they now spend their time educating others on all measures of health, natural living as well as self-sufficiency in many aspects of life at their website, Aware, Prepare, and Prosper www.awareandprepare.com

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