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We have discussed before the exact role that iodine plays in your overall health. But, the most important thing is ensuring that you’re getting it in the exact right amounts.
Today, I want to share with you a deep dive I did on iodine, so you can have a comprehensive understanding of the importance of not just iodine — but also figuring out how much you need, because you want to get it just right.
First and foremost, it is important to know that iodine is not inherently bad. In fact, I would discourage ever considering things we can find in our body or in foods as good or bad. There really is no such thing as one “big bad” or one “silver bullet.”
An additional piece I want to touch on is this concept of more or less. Do we need more things, less things, or something else? It all depends on what we’re discussing, and that’s because specific amounts matter.
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Specifics & Amounts
Let’s build out an example to make this point clear.
So, let’s say that someone says you need more vegetables in your diet. What does that more equate to? In fact, many of us get less than is ideal when it comes to vegetables, but should we only need vegetables?
If we always need more vegetables, then we are setting up a hypothetical where we should likely only eat vegetables — and nothing else. It discounts which vegetables we should eat, how much of it we should get, and how it fits into the balance of our health.
Key Insight: It’s all about amounts, and understanding that we don’t necessarily need less or more of something as a general rule — we need the right amounts for us.
The Right Amount of Iodine
We have seen that there are times when an iodine deficiency created big problems for people. In the past, this was shown mainly in the case of goiters (Read More: All About Goiters).
This resulted in quite obvious enlargements of the neck, and that occurs in areas that tend to run lower than 30 mcg of iodine on a long-term basis.
We also see something called cretinism. This is an issue where people simply do not develop properly. They not only have issues with height, but their brains do not function the way that they should. That occurs in areas that are lower than 20 mcg per day.
Lastly, we can also see a total shutdown of the thyroid and a severe lack of thyroid hormone that leads to a myxedema coma. That occurs in somewhere less than 10-15 mcg per day of iodine. These are all very serious conditions.
A Moment In History
Around the 1800’s, researchers began realizing that these things had a common thread.
Surgeons even saw that those who had their thyroid removed, would have similar symptoms occur much like the cases we just profiled.
Key Insight: It all came together because too little iodine was a harmful problem.
In order to reverse these issues, iodine fortification became a helpful strategy to aid those who were deficient in iodine and suffering from any of the above conditions.
Overall, this was a huge win for many people. In fact, it reversed a lot of these conditions and rates of goiter (in the United States) went down tenfold.
Here’s an interesting thing: In the United Kingdom, they did not fortify with iodine and they saw goiter rates go down at the same time.
This was odd at that time, but we now know that in the US and the UK, along with fortifying iodine in our salt, there was a fortification of iodine in dairy foods (not the food we get from cows, but the food cows are given).
Cow feed, a lot of the additives within it, had iodine added in to prevent goiters in cattle. That caused much higher amounts of iodine to show up in dairy foods.
This issue of reversing goiters was a very positive change. But, we didn’t even fortify salt across the board in the US. For instance, many states fought it and there never was a federal mandate.
But, after the years of fortification in both salt and dairy foods, the rates of thyroid disease went up 52 fold over many years.
Bottom Line: While goiters may have gone away, many other issues did emerge when it came to the thyroid and what we now call Hashimoto’s disease.
Iodine Deficiency Globally
How big of an issue is iodine deficiency across the world?
In 1990, there were only four countries that were iodine sufficient. By 2013, there are now only nine countries that are not iodine sufficient.
Key Insight: Nowadays, many countries are now listed in the category of “iodine excess.” Meaning that we are getting far more than we need.
Between 1990 and 2013, the global intake of iodine has done a complete switch. The US is now in a category where we are getting so much that it endangers thyroid function.
Action Steps: Dialing In Your Iodine
So, what can you do when it comes to your iodine intake?
The first step is to know the ideal range. That would be about 50-200 mcg of iodine. Pregnant and lactating women may need an extra 90 mcg.
So, let’s break it down to be a bit more specific for:
- General Health: 50 – 200 mcg
- Reversing Thyroid Disease: 30 – 100 mcg
- Pregnancy/Lactation: 150 – 250 mcg
As adults who develop thyroid disease, the risk of onset of goiter is not there from iodine deficiency. It can occur for other reasons, but not from a lack of iodine.
Bottom Line: As an adult, the issues of goiters should not give you any concern. Instead, please focus on your ideal iodine range and optimizing your health going forward.
The Specifics Of Your Health
In your health, as is the case in life, the details matter. That’s why I want to dive into the specifics surrounding your health.
That doesn’t mean simply focusing on one ‘bad’ thing, but understanding what your unique needs are when it comes to your root causes and symptoms.
So, let’s shift our thinking when it comes to your iodine intake. Don’t simply think about more or less, but the ideal ranges, amounts, and the right amount for you to lead a healthy life.
Iodine is complex, and so is your overall health, but it can be so much simpler if you operate from data and make choices based on what has been studied and proven before.
And, it all starts with testing (and not guessing).
That could potentially begin with your thyroid. Have you been concerned by the performance of your thyroid? Do you know how much iodine you are even getting on a daily basis?
Take the Thyroid Quiz today (Click Here: Take The Quiz Right Now). It will help you understand where you stand with your thyroid, and some action steps to help you get on the right track to living your best life. I hope you’ll give it a try today.
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. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
3. 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.