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Friday, November 12, 2010

Are You Iodine Deficient...?

About a month ago I wrote this about iodine.

The last thing I said in that post was that I would try the iodine painting on my self.  So far its had no effect but I'll probably continue with it for the reasons I list below.

But that's not why I am posting again about iodine.

A friend of the family was talking to us about this and give the iodine painting a try.  Low and behold many of the symptoms I had listed went away.  But that's not all that went away: so did a serious case of snoring.


Yes, snoring.  It turns out that a significant iodine deficiency causes your thyroid to swell.  Swell to the point where it makes it difficult to breath while sleeping and simulates sleep apnea.  A swollen thyroid (seen in the image at the top of this post) is symptom of a much more serious problem: goiter.

Based on this we've done some additional research on Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and iodine.

First off, in the US at least, the primary delivery system for iodine is table salt.  Table salt, or sodium chloride, is found in almost everyone's home.  In the 1920's goiter was common in the US is areas without access to seafood in their diet, e.g., the great lakes region.  The Morton Salt Company started to sell iodized salt in 1924 in the US.

Today we don't see anyone with goiter.  But that doesn't mean we're getting enough iodine.

Again we could be talking about sub-clinical cases of diseases such goiter, e.g., the swollen thyroid and snoring.  Sub-clinical means that its not enough of a disease to register in a standard medical test - but you still might have a problem.  For example, if you need a score of 100 to have the problem but you only score 95.  You may still suffer some symptoms even though technically you don't have the problem.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends 150 micrograms of iodine per day for both men and women.

A typical US diet might involve 3.5 grams (g) of salt per day (according to WebMD).  I think this amount of salt is low.  So for our purposes here we will generously say we get 5g of salt per day.

A single serving of iodized table salt (1g), according to this table (at bottom), contains 77mcg of iodine.

A table spoon of salt, or 5g, would contain about 385 micro grams (mcg) of iodine. More than the 150 mcg the FDA suggests.

(Note: 1 gram (g) = 1,000 milligrams (mg) = 1,000,000 micrograms (mcg).)

However, only 20% (one fifth) of all salt consumed is iodized so eating a tablespoon of iodized salt will still leave you iodine deficient (77 mcg is less than the 150mcg suggested by the FDA).

Now couple this with the fact that you should only eat something like 1.5g of salt for health reasons, e.g., high blood pressure, etc. and you get massive iodine deficiency within the population.

Now apparently some people need much more iodine than the 150 mcg per day, i.e., the relieving of various problems by taking iodine supplements.  There is a detailed article here on the subject.

I have done a lot of reading and have found that probably 12mg is reasonable dose if you are deficient.  This is a common dosage in some supplements that I have found.  Some cultures, like the Japanese, consume much more iodine than this - up to several grams per day - because of their seafood-based diets.

In any case do your own research before taking any supplements.

Iodine deficiency is linked to many bad things: cancer of the breast and stomach, for pregnant woman lack of iodine can cause mental retardation, and of course goiter.

I think that table salt is a bad idea for iodine supplementation - too much table salt is bad for your heart and blood pressure and the amount they say you should consume, 1.5g per day, leaves you with under 20mcg of iodine - given that all of that salt was iodized.

There are also many discussions as to why this is not an issue at the FDA or drug companies.

This is very simple: iodine supplements are simple and cheap and they work.

No huge markups, no regulations, no requirements.

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