Supplementing with iodine

The modest amount of iodine we consume through food is not enough to counteract the deleterious effect of toxic halogens to which we are increasingly exposed. However, increasing your iodine intake through certain foods and the use of supplements is easy and feasible for everyone.

Iodine is an extremely important element for our body. Almost every cell in the human body uses iodine, which is absorbed in glandular tissues such as: salivary glands, breasts, pancreas, prostate and gastric mucosa. In addition, white blood cells, the main contributors to the immune system, need iodine to fight infectious agents.

Iodine deficiency causes goiter, mental retardation, increased prenatal death and infant mortality, and decreased fertility 1.

Before increasing one’s iodine intake, however, it is necessary to understand the relationship between iodine and the other halogen elements since increasing iodine intake will not only cause the correction of a possible deficiency but also the elimination of fluorine, chlorine and bromine.

Supplementing with iodine is the best method of eliminating these toxic halogens. The question is, what foods contain iodine ? What supplements can be used ? What dose to start with ? Are there other factors to consider ?

Iodine receptors

Halogens are a group of five chemically related elements: fluorine (F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), iodine (I), and astatine (At). They are classified in the penultimate column of the periodic table of elements. Iodine, a black-purple metallic solid, is the heaviest and most stable of the halogens and also the only one needed by the body. We store about 1,500 mg of iodine in our bodies.

Oddly enough, in the modern environment we are increasingly exposed to toxic halogens and consume only small doses of iodine. Fluoride, a neurotoxin with well-studied effects, is often added to drinking water in some countries. Bromine, on the other hand, is often used as a flame retardant for textiles and mattresses.

All halogens use the same receptors. Thus, if a person’s diet is deficient in iodine, the iodine receptors in the thyroid and stomach, for example, can fill with bromine, which is highly toxic.

Conversely, iodine intake immediately increases the excretion of fluoride, chlorine and bromine. The toxic halogens that had taken the place of iodine are then eliminated when we take a substantial amount of iodine.

If you live near a nuclear power plant, the government may have provided you with special tablets to use in the event of a nuclear disaster. In a nuclear emergency, radioactive (toxic) I-131 iodine is released into the atmosphere where it can be absorbed by the thyroid gland. To prevent its absorption, governments and doctors provide non-radioactive iodine in the form of potassium iodide. When given at high enough doses, hundreds of times the normal dose, non-radioactive iodine saturates the thyroid, thus preventing radioactive isotopes from entering.

Natural sources of iodine

The main natural source of iodine is the sea and everything derived from it. The sea contains about 60 micrograms (μg) per liter of iodine. Even simply by bathing in the sea, the body absorbs a small amount of iodine through the skin.

Seaweed, often consumed in Japanese culture and sushi, accumulates iodine up to 30,000 times the concentration found in seawater. Marine vegetation concentrates iodine for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Seaweed commonly known as Kelp is one of the best natural sources of iodine, it can contain up to 1000 µg of iodine per gram of dried seaweed. Other natural sources are for example cod, yogurt, oysters and milk.

The daily iodine intake recommended by various health agencies ranges from 150 µg to 200 µg for pregnant women. This intake prevents deficiency but is not sufficient to counteract the effect of toxic halogens to which we are increasingly exposed.

Food Micrograms (mcg, µg) per serving Percent DV
Seawed, dried, 10 g 232 155
Cod, 85g 158 106
Yogurt, 1 cup 116 77
Oysters, 85g 93 62
Milk, 1 cup 85 57
Iodized salt, 1.5 g (~ 1 chucchiaino) 76 51
Egg, 1 26 17


Supplementing with iodine

Supplementing with a non-food source of iodine makes it easier to control the amount of iodine and to be able to reach much higher doses. I personally recommend starting with a very low amount of iodine and then gradually increasing it.

Base protocol

Supplementing with a 150 µg dose of potassium iodide will provide the body with the necessary iodine supply for daily demands and prevent iodine deficiency. This dose is perfect for starters.

Detoxification protocol

Supplementing with higher doses than mentioned above will result in the elimination (detoxification) of toxic halogen elements. This type of protocol requires the addition of other nutrients that work synergistically with iodine. They are selenium, magnesium and vitamin C and are called cofactors or companion nutrients.

For cofactors, the supplement brands Thorne, PureEncapsulation and G&G Vitamins offer high-quality products with few added ingredients. Magnesium and vitamin C you can take daily while selenium 3 times a week.

Selenium, megnesium and iodine supplements
Selenium, megnesium and iodine supplements

In this protocol, we start with very low doses of iodine and gradually increase each week. It is good to know that since iodine stimulates the elimination of toxic elements, you may experience so-called detoxification crises. These crises are due to the too rapid elimination of toxic elements. Fluorine, bromine and chlorine must pass through the bloodstream and various organs before they can be eliminated. Because of their toxicity they cause damage to the tissues they encounter. If these elements are released too quickly, the body will have difficulty in handling these toxins and we may suffer temporary detoxification symptoms such as headaches and irritability. For this reason it is good to start with very low doses of iodine and then gradually increase each week.

If you notice that certain symptoms have worsened without any other explanation, you may be going through a detoxification crisis. In this case, take a break from iodine supplementation for a week and then resume with a lower dose.

For small initial iodine intake, a potassium iodide supplement in drops is perfect. When you get to a dose of a few milligrams (=1000µg) it is more convenient to use the tincture of iodine called Lµgol’s iodine. This product contains both potassium iodide and iodine. Start with the 2% supplement that gives you 2mg (2000µg) of iodine per drop.

Proponents of iodine supplementation as a treatment for many diseases such as Dr. Brownstein recommend increasing iodine intake to very high doses such as 50mg.

I personally believe that this is not necessary and is also potentially unhealthy. I therefore recommend not to exceed 5mg of iodine, which is still more than 33 times the dose recommended by the various government “authorities”.

I also believe that reaching these doses is not the goal, but I think the goal is to integrate iodine properly with the various cofactors needed and slowly and gradually increase the dose minimizing any detoxification crisis.

  1. An Update- The Role of Nutrients Crucial in the Infertility of Couples- New Insights for the Effects of Iodine, Selenium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Magnesium Heverton Alves Peres, Maria Cristina Freitas Foss, Leonardo Régis Leira Pereira and Carlos Manuel Viana ↩︎

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