Did you know there’s one simple mineral that we need every day that most of us never get? There was a time when it was considered a “cure all”, but we’ve forgotten all about it in favor of prescription drugs, and as a result, rates of cancer are skyrocketing, obesity is epidemic, and our energy levels have plunged.
That mineral is iodine, and it is the subject of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
Iodine is one of nature’s most amazing minerals. Unfortunately for our health, it is one that has been largely forgotten. But it wasn’t always that way.
Before the widespread use of synthetic drugs, iodine was recommended for everything; healing wounds and disease, destroying bacteria and viruses, and possibly even preventing cancer.
But new pharmaceuticals brushed iodine aside, and we see the result – high rates of cancer, thyroid dysfunction, and a build-up of toxins in our bodies – many of them from the foods we eat and water we drink.
These days, most of the iodine we get in our diets is from table salt. However, it’s easy to forget that iodine was added to salt to reduce incidence of goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) back in the 1920s. And that worked, for a while. But now that people have tried to cut back on table salt at home, they aren’t getting much iodine. What little they do consume may not be able to work effectively, either.
That’s because chlorine, fluoride, and bromide – which lower iodine levels in the body by blocking iodine receptors – are increasingly consumed from foods or through environmental exposure.
Chlorine is now used to purify water instead of iodine. Fluoride is almost universally found in toothpaste and drinking water. And bromines replaced iodine in commercial baked goods over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, these minerals aren’t just toxic for your thyroid – they’re dangerous for your health overall. Fluoride is a problem because it blocks the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine, while bromide can cause depression, headaches, and even hallucinations.
Additionally, consuming soy and gluten blocks thyroid function and inhibits the uptake of iodine. You find these ingredients not only in obvious sources like soy milk and wheat breads, but also as hidden ingredients in many processed foods. They are another reason why we are so deficient in iodine.
Fortunately, not everyone has forgotten what this amazing mineral can do. Integrative medical practitioners and other holistic-thinking individuals are bringing iodine back. And science is recognizing iodine’s great value, too. Researchers suggest that boosting iodine consumption could improve thyroid health, lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer and fibrocystic disease of the breast, and promote overall well-being.
Of course, our minimum daily requirement is still set far too low – only 150 micrograms (mcg) per day. Typically, we in the United States consume 240 mcg per day – just enough to prevent goiter, but not enough for truly beneficial health effects. And there’s nothing scary about getting more iodine in your system. After all, people in Japan consume more than 12 mg – 12,000 mcg – of iodine per day. That’s 50 times more than the average American, and it hasn’t hurt a bit.
In fact, life expectancy in Japan is just over 83 years old, while in the United States it is about 78 years. The infant mortality in Japan is half that of the United States, too. And, America faces almost three times the number of deaths from breast cancer than Japan.
Studies have noted a connection between thyroid abnormalities and breast cancer, and iodine intake may be a factor. Today, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Compare that to thirty years ago, when iodine consumption was much higher, and one in 20 women developed breast cancer. Women in Japan who consume high amounts of dietary iodine have much lower rates of breast cancer and thyroid problems. However, when women emigrate from Japan to the United States and begin eating a Western diet, with its fractional amount of iodine, their breast cancer and thyroid disease rates increase dramatically.
Although iodine is a required nutrient for a healthy thyroid, its anti-cancer functions are impressive. Scientific tests using estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells exposed to iodine have shown that they are less likely to grow and spread. Fibrocystic breast disease is also common, and creates swelling, tenderness, and discomfort. In one study, 98% of women receiving iodine treatment were pain-free by the study’s end, and 72% had improvements in breast tissue.
Supplemental iodine is available in different forms, each of which affects specific tissues in the body. Potassium and sodium iodide are best absorbed by the thyroid. Breast tissue uses iodine most efficiently in the form of molecular iodine.
Because of this, you need a supplement that includes more than one form of the mineral. The best formula provides three forms of iodine, sodium iodide, potassium iodide, and molecular iodine – at levels that can actually make a noticeably positive difference.
Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is an author and iodine expert who has treated thousands of patients in his clinic. He states, “As I started to use larger amounts of iodine (12.5-50 mg/day) to achieve whole body sufficiency, I began to see positive results in my patients. Goiters and nodules of the thyroid shrank, cysts on the ovaries became smaller and began to disappear, patients reported increased energy, and metabolism was increased as evidenced by my patients having new success in losing weight. Libido improved in both men and women. People suffering from brain fog reported a clearing of the fogginess. Patients reported having vivid dreams and sleeping better. Most importantly, those with chronic illnesses that were having a difficult time improving began to notice many of their symptoms resolving.”
If you’re extra-sensitive to cold, put on weight easily, have dry skin, or feel “foggy”, you may be deficient in iodine. Other signs include a thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows, stiff joints, and dull, lusterless hair. Sound like common symptoms? Of course they do – most people don’t get the iodine they need. They may wonder for years what exactly is “wrong”, until they restore the iodine levels their bodies are crying out for. That is why I believe that this miracle mineral deserves a second look for optimal, vibrant health.