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Thyroid and Iodine Overview

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 Copyright 2014, Susan Bennett, all rights reserved. This article is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without explicitly written permission of the author.

Why is the thyroid important?
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck, shaped like a butterfly – each wing, or lobe of your thyroid lies on either side of your windpipe. The thyroid makes, stores, and releases thyroid hormones into the blood. These hormones are used regulate metabolic activities in the body and signal growth in the body and brain, promote detoxification, and provide antioxidant protection in the intestinal tract, and protection against cancer. Optimal function of the thyroid is critical for neurological development in the womb, infancy, and early childhood. Thyroid function impacts the health and function of the body and brain from development in the womb to old age.
Unfortunately there are many pollutants that interfere with the function of the thyroid. It is important to understand the thyroid, what effects it, and how to support it for optimal mental and physical health.

The thyroid requires iodine to function properly, without it, the body cannot produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones.

Why Is Iodine Important?

Iodine is an element that is essential for your body's health; it is used to create hormones that regulate your metabolism and signal growth of the skeleton and brain in the fetus, infants, children and teens. Most of the iodine is used by the thyroid gland, but it is also used in large amounts by the salivary glands, pancreas, skin, cerebral spinal fluid, skin, stomach, brain, breasts (in women), gastric mucosa (where it may act as an anti-oxidant), and thymus gland.

In the US, the recommended daily dose of iodine for adults is 150 mcg daily, but for the Japanese, who have traditionally had the lowest incidence of thyroid disease in the word, the daily intake through iodine containing seaweed is estimated to be around 13 mg - over 8000 times the amount recommended in the US government. More detailed information on recommended dosage is provided towards the bottom of this article.

Iodine supports the immune system and nervous system; insufficient amounts of Iodine can lead to hypothyroidism (the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone), goiter, mental impairment, and certain forms of cancer.

Some experts believe that m
illigram amounts, as well as different forms of iodine, may be required to maintain normal cell integrity and optimum function of the mammary glands, gastric mucosa, thymus, and numerous other tissues that also concentrate iodine.
According to thyroid expert, Dr. Jorges Flechas MD, iodine will diffuse into the cell while iodide is transported into the cell. Different tissues in your body absorb either one or the other, so both are needed for optimal health.
Our Bioactive Iodine Blend contains both forms; iodine and iodide.

Dr. Flechas indicates iodine supplementation can help prevent of diseases such as thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, and cancer. Iodine actually induces apoptosis, meaning it causes cancer cells to self destruct. Dr. Flechas is adamant that absence of iodine in a cell is what causes cancer, and statistics tend to support this view. To see a video presentation by Dr Flechas, please click here.

Thyroid Disruptors

Thyroid disruptors compete with iodine by binding to receptor sites in the thyroid and other tissues throughout the body that use iodine - displacing iodine and impair the thyroids ability to create the hormones needed by the body for optimal mental and physical health.

Here is a partial list of thyroid disruptors:

    • Fluoride - found in US municipal drinking water and toothpaste. Buy non-fluoridated toothpaste. 97% of western European countries do not fluoridate their water. There are many studies linking fluoridated water to significantly lowered intelligence in children and increased levels of mental impairment. (One of the most recent studies into the effects of water fluoridation on intellectual performance, published in December 2010, found that about 28 percent of children in the low-fluoride study area scored as “bright, normal or higher intelligence” compared to only 8 percent in the high-fluoride area. Further, 15 percent of children in the high-fluoride city had signs of mental retardation, compared with only 6 percent in the low-fluoride city. Most alarmingly, some of these brain-damaging effects have been observed even at low levels of exposure, such as 1 part per million (ppm) of fluoride in water, which is right around the levels used in US water fluoridation programs, which range from 0.7-1.2 ppm.)

    • Bromine - used in baked goods in the U.S. Avoid using brominated flour and baked goods that contain it. It has been banned in many countries; unfortunately not the US. 

    • Chlorine/chloramine - found in most US municipal drinking water. Filter your water. 
    • Radioactive iodine - a year or two after Fukushimah spewed radioactive Iodine-131 into the air, there was a 20 percent increase in hypothyroidism in infants in Hawaii and California. Since Fukushima, there has been an epidemic of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer in Japan, and it is worse near Fukushima. Taking a safe form of iodine regularly will prevent the thyroid gland from taking up radioactive iodine. Since most of the US eats produce from the California, we are all being exposed to radioactive iodine, so everyone should make sure they intake adequate amounts of safe iodine.
    • Perchlorate, a component in rocket fuel, contaminates much of our produce and milk, according to government test data. When perchlorate gets into your body it competes with the nutrient iodine, which the thyroid gland needs to make thyroid hormones. Basically, this means that if you ingest too much of it you can end up altering your thyroid hormone balance. This is important because it’s these hormones that regulate metabolism in adults and are critical for proper brain and organ development in infants and young children.
    • Fire retardants, used in clothing and furniture, are incredibly persistent chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, have since been found to contaminate the bodies of people and wildlife around the globe – even polar bears. These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. That can lead to lower IQ, among other significant health effects. While several kinds of PBDEs have now been phased out, this doesn’t mean that toxic fire retardants have gone away. PBDEs are incredibly persistent, so they’re going to be contaminating people and wildlife for decades to come. A few things that can you can do in the meantime include: use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic-laden house dust; avoid reupholstering foam furniture; take care when replacing old carpet (the padding underneath may contain PBDEs).

Symptoms of Thyroid Problems

If you have too little thyroid hormone in your blood, your body slows down. This condition is called hypothyroidism. If you have too much thyroid hormone in your blood, your body speeds up. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.

According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime;
10 percent will be diagnosed as hypothyroid. The rate of thyroid disease is increasing every year. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Women are 5-8 times more likely to develop thyroid disease. Some experts even estimate up to 40% of the US population has insufficient thyroid function.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid in an adult include: goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), fatigue, depression, moodiness, weight gain and low blood pressure, brittle nails, thinning hair, increased sensitivity to the cold, constipation, and impaired memory.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid in infants include: jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), frequent choking, a large protruding tongue, a puffy appearance to the face, constipation, poor muscle tone, and excessive sleepiness.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid in adults include: goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), unexplained weight loss, increased appetite for carbohyddrates, feeling warm or hot when others do not, racing or pounding heartbeat, racing thoughts, mood swings, and insomnia.

Iodine During Pregnancy, Nursing, and Early Childhood

Dr. Flechas recommends 12.5 mg/day, especially for his pregnant patients to optimize their child’s intelligence. He indicates anecdotally that iodine supplementation during some of his client’s pregnancies resulted in children with remarkably advanced intelligence. Some experts recommend women planning to become pregnant take iodine. The recommended dose of iodine for infants from 0-6 months is 2.2 mg a day, about 1300 times higher than the recommended dose for adults. *

Notes on other nutritional considerations during pregancy: A baby takes 10% of the mother’s mineral stores in utero during its development. If the mother has insufficient levels of minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, and iodine, the development of the baby may be impacted. Other supplements that are vitally important to take during pregnancy and can reduce risk of birth defects and developmental disabilities are: active forms of B vitamins (specially folate instead of folic acid, methyl B12, and methyl B6 (P5P), Vitamin D3, Omega 3 oil high in DHA, phosphatidyl serine, and Alpha GPC. *

Click here to view a lecture by Dr Flechas on how iodine insufficiency can effect your child’s IQ

How Much Iodine to Take and What Form - The Iodine Controversy

The medical specialists vary in opinion on how much iodine the average person should take in on a daily basis. In Japan, which had one of the lowest incidences of thyroid disease in the world, prior to Fukushima, the average intake of iodine was 13.8 mg per day through iodine containing seaweed. In the US the RDA is 150 mcg per day. This is a huge difference of over 8000 times between the US and Japanese intake. In the US the rate of consumption of iodine is down because people are eating less salt - also iodized salt is typically not used in commericially made food products.


Dr. Flechas indicates iodine supplementation can help prevent of diseases such as thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, and cancer. Iodine actually induces apoptosis, meaning it causes cancer cells to self destruct. Dr. Flechas is adamant that absence of iodine in a cell is what causes cancer, and statistics tend to support this view. He recommends a daily dose of 12.5 mg for most people.

In 2006, a conflicting research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine was published indicating that excessive levels of iodine can actually contribute to hypothyroidism by worsening and existing autoimmune reaction of iodine resistance in tissues that normally take it up, such as those in the thyroid gland (see sources below).

Some researchers think that the problem is taking it in iodine at once and that it would be better tolerated if it is distributed more evenly throughout the day such as would be the case of the people in Japan who eat a diet high in iodine containing seaweed. There is also controversy about which forms are best. According to Dr. Flechase, a combination of iodide and iodine is best because different forms are better absorbed by the different tissues in the body that use iodine. The forms in our Bioactive Iodine Blend are believed to be amongst the safest and most effective by many experts. 

The bottom line on dosage, is that is best to do your own research and/or consult with your medical practitioner to determine what is the right dose for you and family members.


Teng, Weiping M.D., et. al. "Effect of Iodine Intake on Thyroid Diseases in China" New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2783-2793, June 29, 2006, Number 26Abstract

Utiger, Robert D. M.D. "Iodine Nutrition - More Is Better," New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2819-2821, June 29, 2006, Number 26

Higdon, Jane Ph.D. et. al. "Iodine," Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Insitute, Oregon State University, 2003Article