Long time readers may recall that I searched for alternative therapies when my thyroid started malfunctioning. This was about a year or so after my diabetes diagnosis. I benefited from going paleo and thought that there may be a natural way to help my thyroid gland.
Why Iodine’s Important
I wrote a lot about coconut oil in that previous post. I want to discuss iodine, and why I take it as an occasional supplement. Firstly, we need iodine to survive and be healthy. Our thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. Lack of iodine can lead to all kinds of problems like the development of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, miscarriages, goitre or cretinism and mental retardation in children. Most of us growing up in the West are rarely in danger of cretinism or mental retardation. Why? Processed table salt is iodised. That’s to say, manufacturers put iodine into the salt to supplement the average person’s diet. It’s ironic that if someone has gone strict paleo and has cut out processed table salt, he could end up being iodine deficient.
The amount of iodine in the soil will play a part in how much iodine a person will get in her diet. Of course, very few people can source their food in this way, even paleos. Iodine rich soil will mean more trace iodine in meat. In contrast, if the soil is iodine deficient, not only will the animals suffer, but so too will the humans eating them when it comes to a lack of iodine. Fortunately, there are a few foods that are rich in iodine and are ideal for paleos: eggs, seaweed and seafood. For those who accept a bit of dairy in their diet, cream and hard cheeses have good amounts as well. I get most of my iodine through diet. A lot of us don’t have access to fresh seaweed, or it’s too much of a cultural and culinary leap. For some then, that may mean considering a supplement.
How much Iodine?
There’s some controversy here and also some danger in my opinion. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iodine is 0.14mg according to the NHS in England. Going up to 0.5mg is considered safe. The Japanese, who eat a lot of seaweed per capita, consume somewhere between 1-5mg/day. There are some people out there who are huge advocates of iodine and suggest taking very large amounts of it. I can’t get onboard with that. The danger being that too much iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism. Too much iodine can also exacerbate problems related to hypothyroidism.
I don’t take iodine on a daily basis. I get most of it through diet, mainly eggs and dairy, but I’m overall deficient based on my own calculations. Therefore, every couple of weeks I’ll take two or three drops of Lugol’s iodine solution with a glass of water. That’s been my routine for several years and my blood work has always come back with very good thyroid function (after my initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism and healing through coconut oil).
I think iodine is something I need to be careful about. True, it is essential to human health. But it seems that balance is key here. Too much is probably worse than too little.