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How Does Iodine Cause Thyroid Disease Exactly?December 28, 2020
Have you ever been told that you need more iodine? Have you heard that it’s important, but you’re not quite sure why?
The tricky thing about iodine is that it is so specific. Most of the time you may be getting far more than you could ever need.
That’s why today is such an exciting day, and one that I never thought would come. It’s all about the latest research on iodine testing.
There is now an easier and more streamlined way to determine your exact iodine needs. Let’s dive into it, and exactly what you need to know about iodine for your health today.
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Why Iodine Matters
To put it simply, iodine matters for your thyroid function because the amount you get needs to be incredibly precise. Not too much, not too little, it needs to fall perfectly in the ideal range.
Too much iodine can cause adverse effects to your thyroid, and can lead to permanent damage and long-lasting disease. This is something we can easily prevent to preserve our overall health.
Additionally, studies show a higher risk of breast cancer in those who increase their iodine intake above their ideal range1.
Bottom Line: It is indisputable: iodine matters. But, how do we know how much we are getting and how much is in our system? That comes down to the role testing plays.
If you are interested in learning more about iodine, I would love for you to take a look through some additional articles I have written on the subject:
- Iodine as a misunderstood supplement (Read More)
- How much iodine you need for thyroid disease (Read More)
- If you need iodine to prevent radiation exposure (Read More)
The History of Iodine Testing
The question forever has been: “If iodine is such a big concern, how do I really know if I am getting too much or too little?”
And, the most popular belief is that people often think they aren’t getting enough — they recognize how important it is, and often think more iodine is simply more of a good thing
Ultimately, certainty is crucial.
Of all the tests that used to be available, they were only relevant for large populations. We could say if a big group of people was getting the right amount of iodine, but never an individual person.
Key Insight: In fact, you needed at least 500 people to say if they were getting too much, too little, or the right amount. Losing the individual’s specific results in that mix was obviously a great loss.
This was true for urine tests, morning urine tests, 24-hour urine tests, as well as serum tests. All of these tests have not been able to apply to any given person — only large groups.
Have Researchers Attempted Individual Tests?
In the pursuit of trying to figure out a specific individual’s iodine levels, researchers have tried multiple methods to try and figure this one out.
Spot Urine Collection
The first is what we call a spot urine collection. This would essentially involve collecting your urine over 400 times to be within 90% accuracy2.
Or, if you were to collect it over 24 hours, it would take around 300 tests to get within a true level of accuracy. That would essentially be an entire year of collecting your urine!
Even then, your levels could shift and you would only know an average over what is a huge timeframe. It simply would not be useful.
The second involves a challenge test. It was thought that someone could take a dose of iodine, and monitor their urine over that time period to figure out the average over time.
This thought was couched in the idea that, if someone was deficient, the body would hold on to that iodine and less would leave in the urine (giving an idea of how deficient that person may have been).
However, we know that your urinary levels of iodine do change when your iodine intake changes — but not in a day. It takes three or six months for that to happen.
There was even a laboratory that performed a study on people to see if this test was valid. Rather than just collecting the urine for a day, they collected it for three weeks.
What they saw was that a high dose of iodine did cause people to get rid of more in their urine, but it lasted as long as they measured it. The body can only detox iodine so fast, and we don’t hold onto it if we need it (we just can’t get rid of it quickly enough)3.
Bottom Line: There are some things that our body needs, but we cannot regulate all that quickly. That is the case with iodine.
How are we able to accurately test an individual’s iodine levels? That’s at the heart of our discussion today.
What we know now is that the fluctuation of iodine, for a given person, can be calibrated based upon a protein that your kidneys get rid of (called creatinine).
We have learned about this by looking at groups of people who are doing low-iodine diets for trying to help with thyroid disease or iodine uptake scans.
As it happens, your urinary-iodine-to-creatinine ratio is a predictor of how well someone responds (and is better than simply looking at urinary iodine on its own).
Key Insight: In this case, the test does a great job of leveling out the highs and lows to understand the average iodine someone is receiving.
The Units Involved
While it does take a little bit of calculating to get it right, here’s how the units present themselves to make this test work (based on your results):
- Iodine – mcg/ml
- Creatinine mg/dL, need to convert to G/L (multiplied by 0.01)
- Iodine divided by creatinine
It seems that levels that are above 200 units of iodine to creatinine, that is where we start seeing risks emerge.
So, the goal is to reach 100 and lower — which is also where we start to see thyroid disease reversing. Here’s a further breakdown on status:
- Therapeutic <100 mcg/L
- Adequate 100 – 200 mcg/L
- Above requirement 200 – 300 mcg/L
- Excessive >300 mcg/L
In terms of ideal ranges, this would involve between 50-200 mcg of iodine (pregnant and lactating women may need an extra 90 mcg).
Here’s a bit more specific breakdown for:
- General Health: 50 – 200 mcg
- Reversing Thyroid Disease: 30 – 100 mcg
- Pregnancy/Lactation: 150 – 250 mcg
If you have gone on a low-iodine diet, and yet your thyroid disease is persisting, this iodine test is an easy way to check. It may also reveal some hidden sources that you were not aware of at the time.
Key Insight: Even things like cosmetic products may have iodine, and may be affecting your intake. Or, in the stabilizers of thickeners of some foods.
Now you have the opportunity to check your levels and to see if you are in a place where your thyroid function can truly improve.
And, you now have the opportunity to check your iodine status and determine whether you are getting too much or too little.
I hope that helps, and I can’t wait for these results to play their part in improving your health.
Test, Don’t Guess, Today
Now that you know more about the latest research going into iodine testing, I want to help you take the next step. Simply take the Thyroid Quiz today (Click Here: Take The Quiz).
If you have ever struggled with the health of your thyroid, or your overall health, it helps to understand the role your thyroid plays and how it can help you get to feeling better.
It’s a simple quiz that only takes minutes to complete. From there, you’ll get clear action steps to help improve your health. Please, give it a try today.
1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28856936
2 – https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/thyroid/news/online/%7B6b756bd0-9928-4ed1-92e4-e666372ae0e1%7D/urine-iodine-to-creatinine-ratio-more-accurate-test-for-deficiency-in-pregnancy
3 – https://www.zrtlab.com/blog/archive/flaws-in-the-iodine-loading-dose-urine-test/
P.S. Whenever you are ready, here is how I can help you now:
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Need a Personalized Supplement? Check out My Thyroid Specific Formulations
3. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
4. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.