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– Keith Vrbicky M.D

Millions of people are deficient in iodine and they have no idea that they are.  Low iodine is something many clinicians forget to check for. Here are nine signs of low iodine you need to know:

1. Fatigue or chronic tiredness.  You are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep yet always feel tired.

2. Unexplained weight gain.  If you have been eating the low carb proper human diet and exercising and continue to be unable to lose weight or are even gaining weight, it may be due to iodine deficiency.

3. Carbohydrate cravings.

4. Hair loss.  You are eating appropriate foods and supplementing with fatty acids, yet continue to experience hair loss, this may be due to an iodine deficiency.

5. Chronically cold hands and cold feet.

6. Depressed mood.

7. Dry skin.

8. Brain fog or memory troubles.

9. Goiter.  This is always related to an iodine deficiency.  Goiter is an enlarged thyroid and may be missed on a physical examination if not carefully looked for.

Eating a diet rich in iodine is vital for all of your organs, particularly all your glandular tissues.  Food sources of iodine include:

1. Any fish that comes from the ocean

2. Any shellfish that comes from the ocean e.g. lobster, crab legs, shrimp.

3. Seaweed (Again from the ocean is the best) e.g. kale

4. Meat and organs (from grass-fed is better.)

5. Dairy-(from grass-fed is better.)

6. Eggs.

7. Coastal plants.

Living in the middle of the U.S., our dietary sources of iodine are very limited.  Iodized salt has helped, but is not sufficient to correct the deficiency for most people.

We know that iodine is essential for normal thyroid function; however, it is also a critical element for many other glandular tissues in the body to include the brain, the breast, the ovaries, and the uterus. Recent studies show that nearly 60% of U.S. women of childbearing age are deficient in iodine. The consequences of iodine deficiency are severe.  For the fetus, iodine deficiency can lead to poor development of the baby’s brain and lead to lower cognitive development and IQ scores. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy has been associated with other illnesses in the neonates including cretinism, dwarfism, depression, and ADHD.  It is important to ensure that a woman has adequate iodine intake before she becomes pregnant.

Every gland in your body concentrates iodine, so according to the federal government, the daily intake of 150 mcg of iodine is recommended.  The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for a pregnant woman is 220 mcg daily and for breastfeeding mothers the RDA is 290 mcg per day.  150 mcg per day is enough for your thyroid; however, all the other glandular organs in the body may be deficient with this amount.  Your salivary glands, pancreas, sweat glands, and liver may all not function to their peak due to a lack of iodine.  Adrenal glands, ovaries, and testicles need a critical amount of iodine in order to function properly.  So, it appears that the human body needs more than 150 mcg of iodine daily.

 It is interesting to note that the Japanese consume an average of 15,000 mcg per day because their diet is so rich in fish from the ocean and seaweed.  Given this, one should consider taking in at least 1 mg (1000mcg) to 3 mg (3000 mcg) of iodine every day.

There is a condition of the breast called fibrocystic breast disease which increases the density of the breast.  This can cause breast pain and women with dense breasts may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer.  It has been shown that consuming 3 mg to 5 mg of iodine per day will decrease the fibrocystic breast changes, alleviate breast pain, and decrease the density of the breast tissue. This also may decrease the risk of breast cancer.

To increase the non-dietary consumption of iodine and have adequate levels for all glandular tissues in our body, it may be appropriate to take a supplement of iodine every day.  A popular supplement used is a 2% Lugol’s solution.  Two to three drops in a beverage daily would provide 2 mg to 4 mg of iodine and this generally will be an adequate amount to prevent iodine deficiency and the numerous medical conditions that iodine deficiency can cause or be associated with.  Consider visiting with your clinician if you have some of the signs of possible iodine deficiency.