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Iodine Deficiency 2019: The Disaster Continues

In medical school, I was taught that iodine deficiency was a thing of the past. It took me a short time into my holistic practice of medicine to realize that what I was taught about iodine was incorrect. In fact, I have been writing about iodine and its importance to health for nearly 15 years. When I started researching iodine in the late 1990s, I was shocked to discover that iodine deficiency was still occurring across the United States. When I began testing my patient’s iodine levels I found the vast majority—over 97%–were iodine deficient and most were severely iodine deficient.

 

At that time, I asked myself, “How and why could this be happening?” As I researched more and more about iodine the answers became clear. Iodine deficiency was still present because our food supply was (and still is) woefully inadequate in iodine. Declining mineral levels in our soil coupled with more pollution in the oceans made a perfect storm for iodine deficiency. However, the iodine deficiency epidemic was increasing because of our increasing exposures to toxic halides fluoride and bromide.  These toxic elements competitively inhibit iodine in the body. Our water supply has been contaminated with fluoride and our food supply has been adulterated with bromine in the form of brominated flour and vegetable oils.  Bromide is also found in many commonly used consumer items as a fire retardant.

 

Researchers from Texas Women’s University just released a 2019 article titled, “A Review of Iodine Status of Women of Reproductive Age in the USA.” (1) The authors summarized the studies that assessed iodine status of women of reproductive age in the USA. The authors state, “Despite the USA being considered iodine sufficient for the general population, the US dietary iodine intakes have decreased drastically since the 1970s, with iodine deficiency reemerging in vulnerable groups such as women of reproductive age. …a majority of the articles reviewed demonstrate emergent iodine deficiency in this population of women of reproductive age, indicating alarm for a public health concern needing immediate attention.”

 

Iodine is an essential element that we cannot live without. Every cell in the body needs and requires iodine to function optimally. The most vulnerable population for iodine deficiency are women of child-bearing age. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause permanently lowered IQ in children along with a host of neurologic and endocrine problems including mental retardation, autism, ADHD and thyroid problems. In adults, iodine deficiency can be linked to the epidemic rise in cancers of the glandular tissues—including the thyroid, ovary, uterus, prostate, breast and pancreas.

 

Folks, I have been sounding the iodine-deficiency alarm for nearly two decades. I have written numerous articles and books about the epidemic of iodine deficiency. I encourage you to educate yourself about iodine deficiency as waiting for public health officials to act is like waiting for Godot.

 

In our toxic world, our iodine requirements have gone up compared to our predecessors. With our tainted food supply, it is extremely difficult to ingest enough iodine through the diet. Therefore, I  recommend iodine supplementation to nearly every patient.   Most of my patients take from 25 and 50 mg/day. My book, Iodine: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It will provide you with the information you need to make the proper choices about iodine supplementation.  And, keep in mind, for women of pregnancy age, iodine supplementation should be started before pregnancy.

 

To All Our Health,

DrB

 

(1) Biol. Tr. Elements Res. 2019. 188:208-20

Author Info

David Brownstein, M.D.

Comments ( 81 )

  • Author Icon
    Angel Smith

    My daughter had her thyroid taken out and every year she has more weird symptoms. Black hair in face and body, very little to no energy, no sleep, hair falling out like a cancer patient. It hurts me to see this and I feel helpless. Would iodine help her?

    • Author Icon

      Angel,
      First, she needs a thourough workup by a holistic health care provider–who should also be knowledgeable about iodine.
      DrB

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    Colleen Morgan

    I was finally diagnosed with Iodine deficiency a year ago after 18 months of testing what was “wrong” with me. My blood levels were at 40 (in-range was said to be 52-100) my doc put me on an Iodine supplement (.225mg) I felt better for a little while and got my blood levels to 50 but still never felt great. And even on the supplement my levels fell back to 42 in January. Thankfully I found your book about 6 weeks ago and bought the supplement Iodoral (12.5mg) and took 1 for a week then 2 for the second week and I felt better immediately. After the second week my blood levels tested 482! That’s almost 5x what the “in-range” levels should be. I stopped the supplement 2 days ago And now I’m tired and sluggish again even with these high numbers. My question: what is the target blood level for normal Iodine levels? Is it dangerous to have levels as high as mine? Should I stop the supplement? I appreciate any other info you can give me.

    • Author Icon

      Colleen,
      Blood levels of I are inadequate after one starts taking iodine. There are no blood reference ranges for I when someone is taking it. The blood reference ranges are useful only for those not supplementing with I. I have stated that in my book and articles. It is best to work with a doc who is iodine-knowledgeable.
      DrB

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    Tracey

    Dr. Brownstein, I just ordered and recieved your Iodine book in the mail and am excited to start reading! Have you found any coorelation between healthy tonsils and iodine? My 2 elementary aged children have had multiple episodes of strep throat in the last few months and I’ve also stopped using table salt and started using Himalayan sea salt in the last few months. Coincidence?

    • Author Icon

      Tracey,
      Yes, iodine has anti- bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal qualities. It helps the entire lymph system including the tonsils.
      DrB

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    Margaret Knaul

    After reading your books, I have taken both Iodoral and Lugol’s at different times. For me Lugol’s seems much stronger (or effective?). Have you observed differences in how the two work and what do you attribute that to?

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      Margaret,
      Some do better with one form over another. Most cannot tell the difference. My experience has shown very few patients can tell the difference–that goes for a lot of things.
      DrB

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    Jean Karloski

    Dr B,

    A few years ago, I saw a functional health Dr in Detroit and he started me on Iodine. A few months later I became hyperthyroid. Is there any correlation?

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      Jean,
      It can happen–it is very rare. I have seen a few cases of the years. Much less than 1% of those treated.
      DrB

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    Laszlo Szabo-Velvart

    Dear Doctor,

    I was so very glad to learn that Zoltan Hargitai had brought to Your attention the Facebook page of the Hungarian iodine movement that was started by my lecture on iodine in 2014 and that is maintained and looked after largely by my good friend Balint Arvay in the forefront via Facebook and other media, and with other devotees, including myself, in the background!
    In 4.5 years, our iodine group on Facebook has become one of the largest in the world compared to the population of our country (5844 to 9.66 million). It has been a huge dream for us to have some correspondence with You (we know You are extremely busy), to whom we are UNSPEAKABLY grateful! We hope to hear from You – when You have the time.

    God bless You,
    Laszlo Szabo-Velvart

    • Author Icon

      Dear Laszlo,
      I was not aware of this. I think it is great! Please post my last blog to the group.
      DrB

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    David Mitchell

    I’ve been trying to enlighten people about the benefits of Iodine for almost a year now. I can see the Deficiency just by looking at most people now. A lot of times I will try to initiate a conversation with them, and explain the benefits of Iodine. But most just don’t seem interested. Especially younger people. It’s crazy how the majority of them are so brainwashed by Big Pharma’s influence…. I will also throw a few Iodine facts in the comment section of ads for Pharmaceuticals while scrolling through Facebook. Some times I’ll put link to one of your videos at the end my comment. And every once in a while I’ll get a Thank you back from someone, or a question from someone who has tried everything else to regain their health with no luck….

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    Sandy

    Hi Doc,
    Thank you for all that you do! I would love to share this on Facebook, but I didn’t see it on your Facebook page or a way to share it here. Am I missing something?
    Sandy

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    Dorothy

    Do you feel like iodine deficiency plays a role in increasing cholesterol in menopausal women?

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    Theresa

    Every time I take iodine (over 1,500 mg), I get a distinctly metallic taste in my mouth. I have read contradictory explanations for this. What are your thoughts Dr. Brownstein?

    • Author Icon

      Theresa,
      Iodine can help the body detoxify from metals. That might be your taste issues. Sometimes taking more unrefined salt with the iodine solves this. For more information, I will refer you to my salt book.
      DrB

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    John

    I have the utmost respect for your dedicated work as a health professional and true humanitarian. Your work with Dr.’s Abraham and Flechas has an almost cult following, and I have read everything your group wrote that I have been able to find, gratefully so. Thanks to your work, uncountable numbers of people, including me, continue to benefit from Iodine whom otherwise would remain ignorant and deficient. Apart from your own continued clinical work, are there other research groups that you would recommend for reading as well who may be taking up the mantle, so to speak, of your Iodine Project? Thank you again for being a crusader for truth in medicine and being a truly caring physician. I am convinced that you will go down in history as one of the most pivotal and influential physicians of our time.

  • Author Icon
    Jules Dionne

    I have the 3rd edition (2008) of your book – Is it the latest and if so is it still completly relevant ?
    Thanks

    • Author Icon

      Jules,
      The book is in its 5th Edition right now. Yes, everything in that book is still relevant.
      DrB

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    Sandy

    What about kids and teens? Do you have a specific recommendation?

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    Karen Butler

    Ioderol still good to take, yes?

    • Author Icon
      Sara

      People with Celiacs Disease have to be careful with Iodine supplement if their diet us not 110% free of any gluten contamination. Every time I supplement with Iodine, it causes a two year episode of dermatitis herpetiformis skin rash. Apparently any gluten plus iodine causes the perfect storm.

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    Nancy DiMarco

    Thanks Dr B for citing our work- we have been disheartened by the lack of urgency at federal levels and even callousness of medical folks to recognize the dangers. We are preparing another manuscript for publication of an RCT we conducted with women between 18-45 showing that 90% of them to be iodine deficient at baseline.

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      Dr. DiMarco,
      LOVED your article. Unbelievable that this tragedy just keeps on going. Almost like nobody cares. My research through both spot urine iodine and iodine loading tests show over 96% low.
      I can’t wait to see your next article,
      DrB

      • Author Icon
        Amalia Simpson

        Hi Dr Brownstein,

        I am wondering if low iodine can cause hair loss. I have been suffering from low body temperature and lowered T3 as well as high blood sugar. Since taking 50 mgs of Iodoral per day, my blood sugars are lower and my temperature is climbing, but I still have to eat relatively low carbohydrates to keep my weight down and blood glucose down. Just wondering how iodine relates to hair loss.

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    Elsie Gerner

    Love reading your Blogs. I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid. I refused the synthetic Thyroxine, prescribed in Northern Ireland, U.K. I said I wanted to continue taking Lugol’s iodine drops, but increase number of drops gradually to eight a day. Dr. Admitted all he knew about iodine was what he learned at senior school. Other doctor knew nothing, and asked if that was what was given to pigeons? I couldn’t answer that question. However, both doctors have several times taken blood test for my thyroid, and it is STABLE, and has been since 2013. I continue with Lugol’s drops, 15%.
    So, I highly recommend this treatment, but presume it wouldn’t be suitable for those already on Thyroxine.
    Thank you for this wonderful Blog, which I plan to share with a friend, who has young married daughters .

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    Dawn

    This blog post lists recommended iodine in mg… Could you mean mcg? Most sources I can find online recommend 150mcg / day for non-pregnant, non-nursing adults. Thank you for clarification on if “mg” was a typo or not.

    • Author Icon

      Dawn,
      I wrote mg (not mcg) for the reason that mg doses of iodine are what is needed in today’s world. Please refer to my book,
      DrB

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    Carol

    I know that you recommendstarting to take iodine prior to pregnancy. Can it be started while pregnant? If so what is your recommendation for dosing?

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      Carol,
      I do not recommend starting iodine if pregnancy has already started. The reason is that there is no defense if something goes wrong and there is no literature to support or oppose this. Having said that I have had many patients who become pregnant and take it on their own and I have not had a single problem reported to me.
      DrB

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    Virginia

    What are the symptoms of low iodine levels? I have no thyroid gland,take levothyroxine everyday,and get my levels checked by my physician. However,I feel fatigued all the time,can sleep around the clock,am extremely depressed.

    • Author Icon

      Virginia,
      The same symptoms that hypothyroidism can cause can be attributable to iodine. Fibrocystic breasts or cysts anywhere in the glandular tissue can also be related to low iodine. Again, I have written much more about this in my book.
      DrB

    • Author Icon
      Jan

      Hi Virginia,

      I had been taking levoxyl for a number of years – still was losing hair, lost my eyebrows. crazy heavy mensus, pre-menopausal at 38, and had a heart attack and threw a clot at 42. Took care of the mensus problem with black cohash root. After that, I cut out all soy from my diet, and eliminated all intake of fluoride, bromide, and chloride from food sources and water. My next thyroid level check startled my doc, as my ‘level was improving’ – which vastly puzzled him -but he did speak of the possibility of getting off the meds. His method of stopping the meds didn’t work for me. (I fired him for yelling at me for not following his method of meds reduction.) Instead, I very slowly reduced my levoxyl, taking 6 months to taper down to nothing, and began supplementing with iodine. I researched and added other supplements which I identified as lacking, (after all, who knows your symptoms better than you) and further amended my diet. It’s been working for me for 10 years now… and I’ve not seen a doctor since.

  • Author Icon

    Dr. Brownstein,

    You have brought Medicine and I appreciate you! I mention you in my own book and with clients, as well as many Doctors to fail to see the connection and their own “Iodophobia!” I get that word thanks to you! Thank you! Again, I appreciate you! I also taught Thyroid Madness at our local Whole Foods!

  • Author Icon
    Marg

    I am on natural thyroid supplement 110mg daily. I have been taking a thyroid support capsule by pure encapsulations which has potassium iodide 150mcg. That is not enough it seems? Is it necessary to take other things with the iodine? Our water is not fluoridated.

    • Author Icon

      Marg,
      In today’s toxic world, my experience has shown that mg doses of iodine are needed.
      DrB

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    Margaret

    Will iodine make a goiter grow bigger?

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    Lucy

    Hello Dr. Brownstein,

    I have Hashimoto’s disease. Do you recommend taking iodine in this case? If yes, how much?

    Thank you!

    • Author Icon

      Lucy,
      Hashimoto’s disease forms from a lack of iodine. My partners and I have used iodine for over 15 years with great success for it. For proper dosing, I will refer you to find an iodine-literate doctor.
      DrB

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    Chris

    Can I take iodine with my Hashimoto’s? There is a small amount already in my Armour Thyroid.

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    Darin

    I have hashimotos. Amy Myers and Isabella Wentz (both have this disease), have researched and shown that high dose iodine makes this worse. My own studies show a split-some say they feel better, some say they feel worse and it made their antibodies go up more. If I were to guess based on all of the papers, web-sites, etc I have read, its probably 60-40 against excess iodine. Most say keep it in the 200-400 mcg a day range with hashis.

    Currently that is the amount I try to get. Can you explain this disparity and how there can be so many studies (natural Dr.s opinions) showing the opposite of what you are saying on iodine in auto immune response to it? Thanks

    • Author Icon

      Darin,
      I have written extensively about this in my book. Iodine levels have fallen significantly over the last 40 years. During the same time iodine levels have dropped, autoimmune thyroid disorders have increased epidemically. That simple explanation disproves the idea that iodine causes Hashimoto’s disease.
      DrB

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    Louise

    I cannot agree more with Dr. Brownstein! I personally take 50mg and more each and every day, and have been doing so for a number of years. I will always take it. I have great energy and sleep wonderfully. There is so much misinformation out there about this hugely important mineral. Please don’t fear it. Take it!

  • Author Icon
    Dave

    thank you for your continued posts

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    Carrie Elsass

    I hear conflicting things about iodine for those of us with Hashimoto’s. Do you have an opinion on taking Lugols or Iodorol if you have thyroid issues? Benefit or no? Confusing!

  • Author Icon
    Liz

    Dr. Brownstein,

    I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease last summer and put on Synthroid. I am currently 16 wks pregnant and my dr. upped my Synthroid to 88 mcg. Can I take Lugo tabs I’m conjunction or will that cause problems. I really don’t want to be on Synthroid the rest of my life, and want to know if there is something natural I can be doing/taking in its place?

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    John

    I’d love to see further (independent) research done to better identify “proper dosage”. We have well respected nutritionally oriented doctors like Alan Gaby publishing notes indicating the common dosage of 12.5 mg or more per day is excessive. If a “moderate” dosage (3-6 mg/day) has a 11% rate of “side effects” it seems we really need to pin this down better.

    • Author Icon

      John,
      I have hundreds of citations in my book and, between my partners–thousands of patients. The research is already there.
      DrB

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    Carole Rittenberg

    I have Graves Disease; my thyroid gland is intact. From what you are saying I might need more iodine? Not the way I understand it. I’ve always been told to stay away from iodine. Please correct me if I am wrong. I am now into year 9 or 10 of my second remission. I also take meds for hypertension and am in 10th day of no diazepam after weaning off over a period of years.

    • Author Icon

      Carole,
      Autoimmune thyroid disorders can be caused by low iodine. I have successfully treated many Graves’ patients with it.
      DrB

  • Author Icon
    Mir

    In your patients taking 25-50 mg. iodine per day, have you had any thyroid storm issues?

    • Author Icon

      Mir,
      I have not encountered thyroid storm. However, there are a few patients who do not do well with iodine. They are few and far between. There are a few that don’t do well with vitamin C and other items as well.
      DrB

    • Author Icon
      Anne

      I am a patient of Dr. B. He started me on 50 mg a long time ago. I feel great and I sleep well.

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    Tonya

    What do you believe is an optimal level of iodine in the body? I supplement with iodine and am tested annually.

    • Author Icon

      Tonya,
      Everybody is different and should be treated as such. Some do well with larger doses, some with lower. As with anything. Iodine should be part of a holistic treatment regimen not taken as sole remedy.
      DrB

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    Katy

    I have been convinced for a long time that I have iodine deficiency. However, my endocrinologist will not test for it, and they no longer sell the iodine skin test at the pharmacy. Are there any labs/tests that I can request on my own to check the levels? I certainly don’t want to over-supplement. Thanks for your help!

    • Author Icon

      Katy,
      I go over the testing in my book. It is best to find an iodine-literate doc out there to work with.
      DrB

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    Dawn

    What if a person has thyroditis and nodules on thyroid. Surely that would be a sign a person was iodine deficient right?

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      Dawn,
      It is not that easy. Occasionally a nodule can by hyperfunctioning. Those should not be treated with iodine. They are few and far between–in my experience.
      DrB

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        Dr. Peter Walz

        Hallo Dr. Brownstein from Germany
        How or with witch dose of Iodoral do I have to do the iodine testing in children? Even with 50 mg or less?

        Yours
        Dr. Peter Walz
        Pediatric

  • Author Icon
    Donna

    The information contained in your books has been HUGELY beneficial to me. However, I am taking 37.5 mg of Iodoral and doing well with it, which is what I thought you recommend. Is the Lugol’s better? Thank you for everything you do!

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    Carrie

    Where can I get iodine from?

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      Carrie,
      In food, the highest source of iodine is found in seafood. However, the pollution of the oceans has lowered the amount of iodine in this food source. You can supplement with iodine in the form of Lugol’s solution or tableted Lugol’s solution. One form of tableted iodine is Lugo tabs. They are available from my office at http://www.centerforholisticmedicine.com.
      DrB

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