Your body needs it every day, yet most people don’t get enough. That’s because iodine is a trace element, meaning it’s present in small amounts in the environment, and nearly impossible to obtain through the Standard American Diet. Some people believe they obtain the benefits of iodine through table salt, but the quality and absorbability of iodized table salt lends little benefit to improved health.
Deficiency from Toxic Exposure
People are also more iodine-deficient these days due to toxins in the environment. Chlorine, fluoride, and bromide—which lower iodine levels in the body by blocking iodine receptors—are increasingly consumed from foods and through environmental exposure. These minerals are detrimental to your thyroid and overall health. For example, fluoride blocks the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine, and bromide can cause depression and headaches.
In his book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., states that about 90% of us lack sufficient iodine for optimal health, according to his tests on more than 5,000 patients. I’m convinced everyone can benefit from daily iodine supplementation. Iodine is known for supporting healthy thyroid function, as well as maintaining healthy breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate tissue. Researchers believe iodine can prevent cysts, nodules, and cancer, and that is has the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses.
Your thyroid gland is extremely important to your overall health and requires sufficient levels of iodine in order to function normally. Thyroid hormones regulate everything from metabolism to heart rate to brain function. When these hormones get out of balance, you may end up with hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms, which can negatively impact countless aspects of your health and even cause autoimmune issues, including Hashimoto’s and Grave’s diseases.
One of the main functions of the thyroid is the production of the hormone thyroxine (T4), and the conversion of this hormone into triiodothyronine (T3) as needed for metabolism and weight management. These hormones are made from tyrosine (an amino acid) and iodine. Without sufficient iodine, the thyroid simply can’t manufacture these very important hormones.
Iodine’s anti-cancer functions are one of its most important benefits. Scientific tests using estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells exposed to iodine have shown that they are less likely to grow and spread. It is also beneficial for the prevention of thyroid, prostate, uterine, and ovarian cancer.
How Iodine Promotes Breast and Prostate Health
Iodine works so well for breast health because it makes breast cells less sensitive to estrogen, and as mentioned earlier, detoxifies toxic halogens—bromide, fluoride, and chloride—from the body. It’s important that you help your body flush out these harmful elements: one study found that breast cancer patients had double the bromide levels compared to non-cancer patients.
For the same reasons, iodine helps prevent the hormonal imbalances that leave some men more prone to prostate cancer. After all, women and men are equally subject to the estrogen-like chemicals in the environment. These chemicals are prevalent in modern packaging, home and office furnishings, and foods.
Iodine also improves fibrocystic breast disease. In clinical research, approximately 70% of patients experienced relief of pain and reduction in abnormal tissue with iodine supplementation. In patients with mastalgia (breast pain), at least 50% of the women had significant reductions in breast pain after taking 6 mg of iodine each day. In another study, 98% of women receiving iodine treatment were pain free by the study’s end, and 72% had improvements in breast tissue.
Different Forms of Iodine for Different Reasons
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 iodide—at levels that can actually make a noticeably positive difference.
How much should you take? Dr. Brownstein 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.”
The most common dosages are 6.25 to 12.5 mg, but your doctor may recommend higher in certain health conditions. Iodine supplementation can make a big difference to your health. Boost your metabolism, protect your thyroid, and overcome cancer risk by adding it to your daily regimen.
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Brownstein, David, M.D. Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It (Medical Alternatives Press, 2009).
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