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 Iodine Deficiency — An Old Epidemic is Back 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled From Fatigued to Fantastic by . View all columns in series

  • CFS or fibromyalgia.

  • Thyroid disease or thyroid cancer.

  • Low body temps (under 98.0 Fahrenheit). In one study using 1,500 mcg/day of iodine in those with fatigue and low temperature, the temperature did not come up, but the patients felt much better on it and had improved energy. If you prefer to have lab confirmation, Dr. Kent Holtorf is using the urine iodine testing from Nitek and subsequent treatment with iodine when low. He estimates about 50-60% are low and about 20-30% very low. Dr. David Brownstein, a wonderful physician who wrote the book Iodine (available at Dr. David Brownstein's website) does an iodine loading test discussed in his book, which also shows ~ 95% of folks he tests to be low. The question with iodine testing is how one defines "low," and I personally am not anxious to do a test that does not affect how I treat.

    Both simply treating without testing or doing lab testing are reasonable options, and a good case could be made for treating everyone who has fibromyalgia or CFS, unexplained fatigue, or breast disease (cysts, cancer, or tenderness) with iodine for 3 months to see if they improve — without any testing.

    Iodine Supplementation
    We used to use Lugol's solution (a mix of iodine and iodide), but this is messy, irritating to the stomach, and can mildly stain teeth. A much preferred option is to use Iodoral 1 tab a day (12,500 mcg iodine per tablet — a high dose — made by the Optimox Company), which is available on line and at many holistic practitioner's offices. Some doctors are using 2-4 tabs a day, but these higher doses are best done under a holistic practitioner's supervision as very high doses of iodine may suppress thyroid function. Though there is a concern about thyroid suppression from high iodine, this is generally not seen at a dose of 1 Iodoral a day (if you look at the actual studies as opposed to people simply speaking from no data). An additional benefit is that high dose Iodine may flush bromides out of the body over time, resulting in your being healthier and needing less Iodine over time.

    Two cautions:

    1. A small percent of those with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis will occasionally flare when taking iodine supplements (even in multivitamins). This usually goes away over time and the iodine is actually very helpful. Many who use high dose iodine, such as Iodoral, report that they see less sensitivity in these folks starting with a high dose of iodine instead of a low dose.
    2. In those with iodine allergies, I would not take the iodine supplement. Having said this, I have never seen anyone who had an allergic reaction to x-ray dyes also react to iodine supplements — but better safe than sorry.
    Diet and Lifestyle
  • Seafood tends to be higher in iodine. An especially rich iodine source is seaweed, such as kelp. This is why the average Japanese woman who eats a lot of seaweed gets 12,500 mcg of iodine in their daily diet, while in the U.S. most are lucky to barely get their 150 mcg a day. This may be why breast cancer and breast cysts are much less common in Japan than in the U.S. and England (the incidence of breast cancer is over 300% more common in the US than Japan).

  • Cut back on soy products if you eat a lot of them — especially unfermented soy.

  • Consider using less fluoride (I prefer it be in toothpaste instead of drinking water) and Bromide (often found in hot tubs to keep down bacteria — other options are available).
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     About The Author
    Jacob Teitelbaum MD is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z" and author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! (3rd revised edition, Avery/Penguin Group) and Pain Free 1-2-3-A......moreJacob Teitelbaum MD
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