G9. Iodine & Thyroid


G9.1: Oddly, the USDA Nutrient Database no longer lists Iodine.

Iodine is an essential mineral for the entire body and all of the endocrine glands, however it is so essential for the thyroid that the gland can preferentially take up iodine - so if there are low thyroid symptoms there may be low iodine too, (G9.1) or excess halides. (G9.2)

     Iodine is a mineral that is essential for metabolism due to its role in the thyroid gland and thyroid hormone, and  it plays a role in the immune system. It may help protect against cancer and autism and other neurological risks in addition to protecting against congenital hypothyroidism in the newborn. Mothers need iodine for their entire body, not just a synthetic hormone replacement with no additional iodine being provided than found in a one-a-day supplement. 

     It is important to have selenium along with iodine rich supplements or foods as the enzyme required to break down excess amounts of thyroid hormone needs selenium in order to function properly. Two Brazil nuts per day or 200 mcg is the recommended amount of selenium to consume per day. Selenium can build up to toxic amounts if over eaten on a very regular basis. 

     Iodine toxicity is also possible, symptoms might include a rapid heart rate, feeling restless, an odd metallic taste in the mouth might occur that could also be due to the body excreting halides: bromide, chloride, and fluoride. Iodine toxicity would only be likely to occur with long term use of high dose supplements or extensive use of topical iodine sanitizing cleansers. Other symptoms might include feeling like there is something stuck in the throat, feeling a need to cough something out; a nasal watery drip may occur that is thin and more like an occasional tear rather than normal mucous and blowing the nose doesn't help because it isn't "clogged" it is just dripping occasionally, weeping almost. I'm familiar because I read about the symptoms in animal research and many years later happened to notice that I likely had continued a high dose iodine supplement too long, and'or I wasn't taking the recommended selenium at the time. 

     The long term benefit though has been an absence of fibrocystic breast pain which had been an uncomfortable problem for several years before I started the iodine supplement protocol by Dr. Brownstein. He has a website with information available online and more detail is included in several books. See Iodine: Why You Need It, for more information about use of a high dose iodine supplement for a few weeks to help clear the body of any stored bromide, chloride and fluoride.  (G9.3)
    The U.S. government was still having foods tested for iodine content as part of the standard food quality system up to 2011, (G9.5), however the information is no longer available in the USDA Nutrient Database. It was available in the USDA database in 2010 and 2011 when I wrote about the iodine content of seaweed. It's still missing - Nov. 2017.

G9.2: Congenital Hypothyroidism & iodine deficiency.

Congenital hypothyroidism is a "birth defect" that is frequently treated with synthetic thyroid hormone instead of or without also providing iodine or iodide supplements. A patient forum left me feeling heart broken as several women were sharing their stories and questions regarding why congenital hypothyroidism seemed to "run" in their family?  - all three children of one women had been born with the condition, and two of three children for the mother who posted the original question - and none of the mothers or respondents seemed to be aware of the role of iodine. (G9.4)  

     Excess halides, bromide, chloride, and fluoride are also involved. The body needs extra iodine above the recommended daily goal if there is an excessive amount of halides present in the diet or in the stored body pool of toxins and nutrients.

     Prenatal care is important to think about once the infant is conceived but it can be even better to think about before trying to conceive. An evaluation for iodine level and thyroid antibodies can be a good idea for anyone but may also be helpful for a future infant's brain development. 

    Considering adequate iodine status before conceiving an infant may also help protect against autism. Mothers with hypothyroidism, even if taking the synthetic hormone replacement therapy, are more at risk for having an infant who develops autism as a child. 

     Illness is a limiting factor affecting too many people in the U.S. and elsewhere. The rate of autism in children has reached almost 2% of U.S. children and it is a condition that was not present in the medical history of psychiatric care prior to around 1930.  (DenialBlaxill) Malnutrition of several nutrients in addition to iodine seem to be involved based on my reading (post) so the presence of the condition after 1930 may have to due with the Great Depression's impact on nutrition. 

To be continued.

G9.3: Iodine and Fibrocystic Breast Disease

The current nutrient guideline for iodine is based on a goal to prevent goiter which is a physical symptom of very severe iodine deficiency. Patients who are treated with a short term loading dose of extra iodine, a dose that would be too much if continued long term, report on average a significant reduction in symptoms including pain from Fibrocystic Breast Disease, migraines and fibromyalgia. http://www.jpands.org/vol11no4/millerd.pdf 

     Fibrocystic Breast Disease - painful breasts that may cycle with the monthly hormonal changes, used to be very uncommon for U.S. women and is now very common:

I am familiar with the condition, it hurt, taking a high dose iodine supplement did help relieve me of the cyclic breast pain and coincidentally also may have helped resolve a severe migraine problem that I had and undiagnosed fibromyalgia type pain - the insurance requirements for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are very specific and my set of muscle knots didn't match the criteria at the time I was having pain. A gluten free diet seemed to help me feel better so I just followed that on my own initiative. I have since learned that chemically the gluten molecule is quite similar to the thyroid hormone and for some people an autoimmune reaction may be causing the body to become over-sensitized to both gluten and the thyroid hormone. Strictly avoiding the dietary allergen (gluten in this example) can help the body to become less over-reactive to the body's natural chemicals (thyroid hormone in this example). Molecular mimicry is the term used to describe this phenomenon if interested in reading more about it.

     A randomized clinical trial with patients reporting breast pain also termed Benign Breast Disease or cyclic mastalglia or Fibrocystic Breast Disease found that pain was reduced for patients treated with double the current RDA of iodine or greater but that relief was not provided for the group who received a dose equal to the current U.S. nutrient guideline. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15239792

     Benign Breast Disease or Fibrocystic Breast Disease has not generally been found to be directly a risk for later breast cancer however for some patients (~ 5%-20%) it may be an early indicator of later risk.  Abstract available, full text paywall, so I'm not sure of the details regarding the results: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25970956

     An overview of a variety of research on the topic of breast health and iodine and halide toxicity, bromine, perchlorates, and fluoride, is available here: https://kathleenbarnes.com/iodine-and-fibrocystic-breasts-and-breast-cancer/

     Excess perchlorate, especially in combination with low iodine, may increase risk to fetal brain development. https://scienmag.com/mothers-exposed-to-common-toxin-have-lower-levels-of-hormone-crucial-for-brain-development/

Food Sources of Iodine & Selenium


G9: Foods that contain iodine or selenium.

 Food Sources of Iodine: Good food sources include kelp and other sea weeds and seafood, iodized salt and products containing iodized salt, coconut, rhubarb, and fortified foods and supplements. 

Iodine food sources include:

  • anything made with iodized salt,
  • many types of seaweed including kelp and nori, (used in sushi rolls),
  • coconut and any other produce that is grown very near to ocean waters (Iodine is released into the air by coastal water microbes - so killing coral reeves may affect our nutrient supply - that is also how we get selenium.)
  • cranberries, organic yogurt, and navy beans and other types of dry beans are also mentioned as good sources of iodine in this article: (globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/).

It is good to have adequate selenium when increasing intake of iodine as occasionally the body can overreact and start over producing thyroid hormone and selenium is necessary for the enzyme that is needed to breakdown excess amounts of thyroid hormone. It is involved in metabolism and too little can cause depression and feeling cold and too much can cause a racing heart and feeling jittery and manic.

     Two hundred micrograms per day is the recommended amount and is generally available in a one-a-day type supplement, otherwise approximately two Brazil nuts per day is a good natural source - there aren't many natural sources because it is released into the atmosphere by coastal ocean water microbes and the rainforest Brazil nut trees seem to be good at collecting the mineral. Occasionally eating Brazil nuts along with a typical habit of taking a one-a-day vitamin wouldn't be likely to cause an overdose but over time choose one or the other as a long term daily choice. 

Disclaimer, and "Find an Expert" near you.

Health can be a do-it-yourself project. Take charge everyday.

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert).

G9. Links & References.pdf; Iodine & Thyroid

Instinct & Policy; Resources

Table of Contents

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  • Chapters and Glossary section summaries & links, and a link for the book version of this site, Instinct & Policy: Effective Care and Best Practices for Promoting Health and Preventing Harassment and Discrimination. 

Table of Contents

G10. Nrf2 Promoting Foods


Nrf2 is a gene and protein that can activate the functions of the immune system and increase antioxidant production. Many flavorful and colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds may help promote our production of Nrf2. Some types of beverages may also be beneficial in moderation. 

Recipes and menu ideas are included.

G10. Nrf2 Promoting Foods

Glossary & Resources

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  • Definitions of terms and the resources & therapy techniques from the various sections gathered in one location for convenience with some additional topics and material for background detail not covered elsewhere. 

Glossary & Resources