Iodine Supplements May Be Needed for Wide-Spread Iodine Deficiency and to Protect Against Radiation

Iodine supplements “sell out” on the west cost in the wake of American’s fear of nuclear radiation crossing the ocean from Japan.

Although government agencies say there is no radiation risk to Americans as a result of the situation in Japan, other medical experts say that there is potential risk because many people are deficient in iodine.

Here are some facts to help you decide if taking these supplements is right for you.

7 Iodine Supplements Facts

  1. Public health officials recommend taking potassium iodide (also called KI) to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer during radiation exposure.

    Potassium iodide is a salt of stable iodine. KI floods the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine and prevents the uptake of the radioactive molecules.

    The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

  2. Iodine is not just concentrated in the thyroid gland, it also occurs in large concentrations in fat, breasts, ovaries, uterus, and prostate tissues.

    Every cell needs and utilizes iodine, says David Brownstein, MD, author of Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It. He says that most physicians have a narrow view of iodine (limited to thyroid health and as an antiseptic). They miss its vital role in overall natural health.

  3. People who are iodine deficient suffer the majority of problems when exposed to radioactive iodine.

    "In these people, radioactive iodine will bind to wherever there are open or empty iodine receptors,” says Dr. Brownstein. If radioactive iodine binds to any of these sites it can destroy tissue, potentially damage DNA, and may lead to cancer.

  4. Those in the US don’t get enough iodine from diet alone.

    People in Japan consume a 50-fold greater amount of iodine than those in the US, says Donald Miller, Jr., MD in “Iodine for Health”.

    Those in Japan eat seaweed, kelp (brown algae), red algae (nori sheets with sushi), and green algae (chlorella), that is rich iodine. They consume an average of 12,000 micrograms (ug) or 12 milligrams (mg) of iodine a day.

    Those in the US eat terrestrial plants that have only a trace of iodine. They consume an average of 240 micrograms (ug), far less than 1 milligram of iodine a day. Thirty years ago, iodine consumption was twice as high as it is now in the US. Iodine levels have fallen because people use less iodized salt and some manufacturers have stopped adding iodine to salt. Iodized salt is the major source of iodine in the Western diet.

    In addition, many food manufactures have stopped adding iodine to baked foods as a dough conditioner using bromine instead.

    Exposure to more toxins like bromine, fluoride, and chlorine contributes as well. These toxins inhibit or block iodine utilization in the body.

    Fifteen percent of US women suffer from moderate to severe iodine deficiency, reports Dr. Miller.

    Nine out of ten women test positive for iodine deficiency in her experience, says Dr. Nan Fuchs, editor of Women’s Health.

  5. There is evidence that taking iodine supplements lowers the risk of a growing list of diseases.

    Iodine deficiency is well accepted as a cause of goiter, hypothyroidism, and mental retardation. Research now finds it linked to breast cancer and fibrocystic disease as well.

    The incidence of breast cancer in the US is highest in the world and in Japan until recently, the lowest,” reports Miller. When Japanese women adopt a Western type diet, their breast cancer rate is higher than those who eat seaweed.

    Research clearly shows that iodine at amounts far greater than the government recommended daily amount (RDA) are necessary for the optimal health of the breasts, ovaries, and uterus says Dr. Christiane Northrup in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.

  6. Using iodine supplements to correct for deficiency has a whole list of positive benefits.

    Doctors like Nan Fuchs, Donald Miller, Jr., and Christiane Northrup report these benefits from taking iodine supplements:

    Helps people who have trouble losing weight shed pounds

    Fights fatigue and improves energy levels

    Normalizes several hormones

    Helps get rid of ovarian cysts

    Helps protect against diabetes

    Improves digestion by helping your stomach make more acid

    Protects against abnormal growth of bacteria in the stomach

    Strengthens the immune system

    Protects against chemical toxins -- fluoride, bromide, lead, aluminum, mercury -- and biological toxins

  7. There’s enough research to support increasing your iodine intake, if not with seaweed then with supplements while researchers continue their studies.

    Dr. Brownstein says that most people need between 6 to 50 mg daily to achieve whole-body sufficiency (not just thyroid sufficiency).

    Dr. Northrup recommends women take 12.5 mg daily.

    Dr. Miller recommends supplements that include molecular iodine such as Lugol’s solution (2 drops a day)or Iodoral (1 tablet a day). Each dose contains 12.5 mg iodine/iodide.

  8. Bottom Line

    Although government officials say that Americans are safe from the current nuclear radiation threat, you may be deficient of iodine levels needed for optimal health. If deficient, you are at greater risk of harm from an exposure to radioactive iodine.

    Have your iodine level tested soon and take iodine supplements as needed.

    Combine this with a healthy diet and optimal cellular nutriton. Don’t take iodine supplements if you’re allergic to iodine or shellfish. As with any substance, if taken inappropriately they can have serious side effects. Discuss this information with your health care provider and use the resources below.

    Resources and Sources

    Brownstein, David, “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It,” 3rd Edition, (West Bloomfield, MI: Medical Alternative Press, 2008).

    Cal EMA News Spot, “Statement from California’s Department of Public Health and Emergency Management Agency on Risk of Radiation Exposure,” at

    CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Emergency Preparedness Response, “Potassium Iodide (KI),” at

    FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), “Frequently asked questions on Potassium Iodine,” at

    Fuchs, Nan, ed, “What to Do if You’re Having Trouble Losing Weight Despite Diet and Exercise,” Women’s Health (March, 2011).

    Miller, Donald, “Iodine for Health,” at

    Northrup, Christiane, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, (New York: Bantam Books, 2010) 127.

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