High Dosage Iodine
Lugol's solution and other liquid iodine preparations are good for staining specimens prepared for microscopic examination, as well as for purifying drinking water given to animals, and not much else.
If your body contains only 25-50 mg of iodine [Venturi 2009] in total and uses on a daily basis just 70 mcg[Miller 2006] to make your thyroid hormones then it should be rather difficult to justify taking 12.5 mg a day, let alone 50, under any circumstances.
"The thyroid gland needs only a trace amount of iodine, 70 mcg/day, to synthesize the requisite amounts of T4 and T3 used to regulate metabolism and ensure normal growth and development."[Miller 2006]
The fad to take between 12.5 and 13.8 mg of iodine a day first started with three different MDs: Guy E. Abraham, Jorge Flechas, and David Brownstein who appear to have misread a research study about the Japanese diet.[Nagataki 1967] These doctors are, also, promoting a dubious iodine-load test to determine whether or not a person is iodine deficient. Alan R. Gaby, MD in 2005 wrote an editorial condemning the iodine related recommendations of these doctors entitled: Iodine: A Lot to Swallow. Dr. Gaby is not the only one who has expressed concern. Joseph Mercola recently went against high-dosage supplementation in his post entitled: Iodine Supplements May Be Too Much of a Good Thing. Dr. Abraham did write, however, a rebuttal to Gaby's editorial.
High Dosage Iodine Supplementation
Over-the-counter high dosage iodine preparations, or brand names, are available on the Internet from retailers like Amazon, and go by many different names, such as Atomidine, Iodoral (12.5 and 50 mg tablets), Iosol, Nascent, Thyrodine, and Lugol's Solution.
In addition, figuring out how much iodine and iodide that you are actually getting from a liquid preparation can be very confusing. For example, every drop of Lugol's 5% Solution is advertised to contain 6.25 mg's of iodine/potassium iodide (2.5 mg iodine, 3.75 mg potassium iodide). In addition, 2 drops of Lugol's 5% Solution is equivalent to about 12.5 mg's of iodine/potassium iodide (5 mg iodine, 7.5 mg potassium iodide). Such descriptions are enough to give anyone a headache.
Lugol's Solution - Case Study
One of the oldest high-dosage iodine products available is called Lugol's Solution that was first made in 1829. J.CROW'S® Lugol's Solution put out online a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on their own product.
"The substance is toxic to thyroid. The substance may be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, skin, eyes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage." -- J.CROW'S® Lugol's Solution MSDSBy reading the fine print you will find that a lot of people are foolishly dosing with Lugol's Solution supposedly for health reasons with an over-the-counter product that even the J. Crow Company's own MSDA claims is "hazardous in case of ingestion ... mutagenic for mammalian somatic cells ... reproductive system/toxin/female ... Can cause adverse reproductive effects and birth defects based on animal data."
How much iodine do the Japanese consume?
Much of the high dosage mania around iodine preventing cancer on the Web, centers on how much the Japanese consume. Moving beyond the original 1967 research study, we can refer to a couple of newer studies.
Total estimated iodine consumption of the Japanese is between 1,000-3,000 mcg (i.e., 1-3 mg) per day.[Zava 2011] Of this amount, around 1,200 mcg (i.e., 1.2 mg) per day is just from Kelp seaweed.[Nagataki 2008] In other words, the Japanese consume as little as 1 mg of iodine a day, which is no where near the 13.8 mg figure that is often being bantered about on the Web.
WARNING: Just because the Japanese consume a lot of seafood and have lower rates of cancer does NOT mean that they do not suffer from an epidemic of thyroid problems. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has a Japanese name for a reason.
"These results indicate that 1) the prevalence of hypothyroidism in iodine sufficient areas may be associated with the amount of iodine ingested; 2) hypothyroidism is more prevalent and marked in subjects consuming further excessive amounts of iodine; and 3) excessive intake of iodine should be considered an etiology of hypothyroidism in addition to chronic thyroiditis in these areas."[Konno 1994]
Safe Use of Iodine Supplements
It was very hard to locate a video to feature that remotely advocated a safe dosage of iodine. Certainly if you are going to supplement with iodine above a few hundred mcg a day, you would want to use a product that is going to be on the low end. Just one drop of Thyrodine provides you with 210 mcg of iodine. Atomidine contains 600 mcg per drop. Iosol Formula II contains 1.83 mg. of iodine per drop. And, do not forget to supplement with selenium.[Triggiani 2009]
Iodine - Anecdotal Evidence
Internet anecdotal reports from people taking these high dosage iodine preparations are all over the map. Results range from no difference, to glowing recommendations, to people experiencing some very negative results.
For those originally deficient in iodine, what often happens is that people initially experience some very positive and immediate results. Therefore, they keep on increasing their dosage by taking even more. After a few weeks, they stop benefiting and may start experiencing some very negative side effects.
It is hard to tell why some people claim to have benefited from high dosages of iodine. It could be because they are taking prescription thyroid hormone medication, their thyroid glands could have already been permanently damaged, or even been surgically removed. It could be, also, that some people have a higher-than-normal requirement for iodine, such as those suffering from fibrocystic breast disease. While female patients supplementing with 3 and 6 mg of iodine experienced reduced breast pain, that does not mean that their thyroid glands were not adversely affected.[Kessler 2004]
The case for high dosage iodine preparations being a scam
- Having to pay as much as $37.00 a fluid ounce for some of these liquid iodine preparations should raise a red flag.
- Advocates of high dosage iodine often sell, or are financially connected to, their own brand of iodine preparation, such as Optimox that produces Iodoral iodine.
- The respective MSDS for these high dosage iodine preparations state in print that the substance may be toxic to thyroids, blood, kidneys, liver, skin, eyes or even are mutagenic.
- They push just iodine preparations, but never advocate supplementing with L-tyrosine, an amino acid, which is just as important as iodine for treating hypothyroidism.
- Advocates claim that different body tissues prefer molecular iodine over the iodide form. One thing is for sure, the Japanese never took Lugol's Solution or Nascent Iodine. They simply ate plenty of seafood and seaweed.
- Advocates pray upon people's fear of halogen toxins, like bromine, chlorine, and fluoride, which compete for storage in the human body, by claiming that higher dosages will help you to detoxify better.
- Advocates use a iodine load test to test for iodine deficiency rather than monitor your TSH, T4, and T3 blood levels.
In conclusion, natural health scams are always about the money.
The Natural Health Perspective advocates that it is better to start slow and simply wait for the iodine to start accumulating in your body. Do you want to obtain the benefits of molecular iodine? Then we suggest that you take advantage of the iodine story by incorporating more seafood into your diet.
Supplementing with a daily dosage of iodine higher than 1 mg is just as likely to hurt, as it is to benefit people. Therefore, the Natural Health Perspective cannot routinely recommend dosages higher than 500 mcg a day of iodide.
Those who want to try higher dosages of iodine should be monitored by a physician of their choice and regularly have expensive blood testing performed that checks for thyroid problems.