The recent earthquake in Japan dealt a shock to the entire world. As the events of this tragedy continue to unfold, I'm immensely saddened by the scenes of loss and moved by the heroism of the nuclear plant workers who press on despite grave risks to their personal health. My heart and prayers are with the Japanese people at this time of unimaginable crisis.
If you've been following the news, you've probably heard about iodine tablets and potassium iodide as a means of mitigating the effects of radiation. Even as far away as the U.S., some are concerned about potential radiation and wondering if they should take iodine tablets, or at least stock up on them.
And you might be surprised to find out that there is a link between iodine and your bone health. So I'd like to clear the air on this topic by giving you the facts about iodine, your thyroid, and how it relates to your bones.
Should You Take Iodine Tablets?
Potassium iodide is a synthetic drug with potentially serious side effects. Its purpose is to saturate the thyroid with a safe form of non-radioactive iodine in order to prevent the uptake of radioactive iodine. Unless you're at immediate risk of exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation, taking potassium iodide is unnecessary and potentially risky.
Dr. Chris Urbina, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, stated that “Potassium iodide may have side effects. Using potassium iodide when it is unnecessary could cause intestinal upset (vomiting, nausea and diarrhea), rashes, allergic reactions, soreness of teeth and gums, and inflammation of the salivary glands.”1
Iodine Does Have a Role in the Bone Health Continuum
Iodine (the mineral, not the synthetic drug) plays an important role in thyroid health because it is an essential component of thyroid hormones. That is why it is instrumental in ensuring that your thyroid gland can function properly.
Excessive iodine intake may lead to both hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid) and hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid), while a rather severe iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism.
As I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, hyperthyroidism has been implicated in excessive bone loss, leading to osteoporosis.2
Keep in mind that thyroid hormone supplementation does not represent an increased risk of developing osteoporosis as long as normal TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels are maintained.
So if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid medications, check your thyroid hormone levels regularly to insure that you are not above normal levels that could lead to bone loss.
Do Iodine Deficiencies Still Exist?
Most people think that iodine deficiencies were eliminated with the introduction of iodized salt in the U.S., and for a while that was largely true. But events have conspired to bring back the threat of insufficient iodine intake:
- Fluoride and iodine are both halogens, which means they are part of a family of chemical elements that compete with each other for space in your cells. So the fluoride that's ubiquitous in our water supplies means that less iodine is able to get into your system.3 In the Osteoporosis Hydration Protocol, which is a part of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I give you all the details about fluoride in drinking water and how it harms your bones.
- Many food manufacturers have started to use bromine instead of iodine in baked goods. And bromine is another halogen. So a high bromine intake, reduces iodine levels.
- Some salt manufacturers have stopped adding iodine to their products. (If you follow the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you know that it's best to use sea salt, which contains naturally-occurring iodine along with other important trace minerals).
The bottom line is that it's important to get the right amount of iodine; neither too much nor too little.
So How Much Do You Need?
The recommended daily intake of iodine is shown below:4
- 150 micrograms (mcg) per day for adults
- 90-120 mcg per day for children
- 200 mcg per day for pregnant women
But don’t worry; you don’t have to take iodine supplements to reach the recommended daily dose. It's extremely easy to get all the iodine you need from ordinary, everyday foods, many of which you are probably eating often anyways. And there's no need for exotic, often hard to find foods like sea kelp or other sea vegetables.
Which Foods Contain Iodine?
Seafood is an excellent source of iodine, particularly clams, lobster, sardines, cod, sea bass, haddock, and perch.
Almost all packaged/prepared foods contain table salt that's supplemented with iodine, unless the label specifically says that it contains sea salt.
Other foods that are good sources of iodine include:5
- Feta or Mozzarella cheese
If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you know that fish, eggs, and cheese are acidifying foods, so you can combine them in the right proportion with alkalizing foods. Potatoes, on the other hand, are alkalizing but only if eaten with the peel, because the minerals with an alkaline ash residue are mostly present in the peel. The rest of the foods in the above list are alkalizing. How’s that for a delicious variety of iodine-rich foods!
What about the Iodine in My Algae-based Calcium?
Some of you have asked whether you're getting too much iodine in AlgaeCal or other algae-based calcium supplements. According to AlgaeCal’s manufacturer and patent-holder, each capsule of their supplement contains only 4.4 mcg of iodine, and the product itself is made from algae, not from a sea vegetable such as kelp or seaweed. This is important if you take thyroid supplements and have been told not to consume kelp.
As a comparison, a standard serving of seafood contains about 60-70 mcg, one medium potato with the peel contains 60 mcg, an egg contains 26 mcg, and many vegetables contain 30-40 mcg of iodine in a one cup serving.
And for a bone-healthy helping of natural iodine, here's one of my favorite comfort food recipes:
Vivian's Baked Potatoes with Fresh Mushroom Sauce
4 medium baking potatoes, unpeeled and thoroughly brushed
Olive oil, as needed
2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, diced
Extra-light olive oil or your favorite bone-healthy cooking oil, as needed
1 teaspoon rosemary, dried
Sea salt (or regular table salt if you wish to temporarily boost your iodine levels), black pepper, and parsley to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 ̊ F.
2. Pinch potatoes at least six times with a fork.
3. Brush olive oil on potatoes and place directly on oven rack. Place foil or a pan at the bottom of the oven to catch any liquid.
4. Bake for one hour or until done (crispy on the outside).
1. Heat a little oil (just enough to cover skillet) and sauté́ onions for one minute.
2. Add mushrooms and slightly increase heat. Add garlic, spices, and salt.
3. Continue cooking until onions are brown and mushrooms are well-done. Keep warm. When potatoes are ready, spoon sauce over halved potatoes and serve hot. Eat with the peel.
Enjoy in good health!
Comments on this article are closed.
Iodine in much larger doses could help so many people. I think the government would rather push big pharma. I’ve used large doses 25 to 50 mg of lugols Iodine while using nanescent Iodine. I feel great but it took a few months which most people won’t go through. This article is not accurate. Then again most doctors think Iodine is poison. They are trained this way. Iodine can save your life but that’s not something they goverent wants out. So sad for so many people suffering and dying.
What a huge disservice you are doing for your readers. To quote a “public servant” as an authority on the dangers of supplemental iodine is criminal. You quoted Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This man is not a researcher. Nor is he a practitioner. He has no personal knowledge of what he is advocating. I urge you to contact, and quote, Dr. David Brownstein M.D, or Dr. Guy Abraham M.D.,or Dr. Jorge D Flechas M.D.. all of these medical practitioners and researchers are successfully treating their patients with many milligrams of potassium iodide, to treat everything from ovarian cysts, fibrous breast tissue, the list goes on and on and on… Iodine is used by every cell!
Your expert bureaucrat MD is merely parroting the word passed down from the medical industry, which likewise knows nothing of iodine’s miracle cures, as selling iodine is not profitable. You know all about these things. You are misleading your readers into believing iodine supplementation is dangerous, when it is particularly necessary now, in view of the continuing radiation coming from Japan that will eventually fall out in rainwater all over this country. The radiation level cited in the article from which you quote, was measured on March 16… 5 days after the Fukushima meltdown. The radiation had not reached the U.S. in large amounts then. Since then, private citizens are measuring radiation levels much higher all across the country. In milk, in water, in pools. You should do some research yourself, instead of printing bad advice from the establishment propaganda. Be advised too, that the TEST for iodine in the body is a urine test. During this test, the patient is given 50MG of potassium iodide, then measures his urine for 24 hours. The amount of iodine in the urine determines whether the patient had sufficient iodine, or whether the patient was low. In other words, if the patient’s body had enough iodine, he would lose the excess in the urine! How, then, can you overdose, when the excess to the body’s need is urinated out? Do some research again. This is very bad advice you, and your experts are printing. I know you mean well, but people believe column advice such as this, and trust you to know your stuff. I’m afraid, this time, you don’t.
Marjorie Jones, I agree with you 100 %. Thank you for ensuring this for me. I just saw a video from a doctor saying this.
In Inndia, only some regions are iodine deficient so need iodized salt. But the government of India has forced all the people to consume iodized salt through banning sale of uniodized salt. This is done to serve commercial interests of salt manufacturers at cost to the public. Iodized salt is sold at about 10 times the price of ordinary sea salt.
I am about to reach 65 years of age and have been diognosed with slight ostioprosis as a result of my asthma medicine. I am taking synthroid, as well, for a sluggish tyroid. I am not good at being consistant with taking my medicine though.
Can my condition be reversed at this point in my life? I have been on medicine for asthma for 15 years and been on synthroid (or generic form) for at least 20 years.
I have a question to you Vivian. My osteoperosis is considered as high risk, I am 72 in good helth except for my tyroid glads that were removed many years ago, what would you reoomend to help my sytuation?
A thank you is not enough to express the gratitude I feel for all your so well-researched input re bone health. We need people like you to give us hope and be an inspiration to all of us. You’ve helped me to start investigating and search carefully in other matters too. God bless you and your family.
All the best,
Taking the meds caused my teeth to start to splinter off and some of the other things you said stated happening also. Even though the dr. wanted me to keep taking fosmax I said no and stopped. But I live with pain and hurt more each year. I’m 60. Hope you will have a new and better way to help me. I’m listening tell me more were I can get this new help. And thankyou for your work for all of us. Dot
This information on iodine was very useful Vivian because I too have hypothyroidism and take 75mcg daily of levathyroxine. I’m not so tired and short tempered now but do have osteopnia in thigh bones.
Many thanks again, you’re such a help to us poor mortals.
The recipe sounds delicious.
I have been diagnosed with a low thyroid condition and am taking levothyroxine with checking to be done every three months. I use only seasalt in cooking and as table salt this past year. I do eat most of the items in your fruit and vegetable list, potatoes WITH SKINS, being a favorite. However, I draw the line at green bananas–love the just about ripe ones t hough.
I would like to know what other calcium I should be taking if it wasn’t from sea algae? And how much? And by the way, I’ve already purchased your Save Our Bones book…just can’t find it right now. Thanks,
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR INFO ON BONES, VIT.D3 AND NOW THYROID. 1980 I HAD RADIOACTIVE IODINE GIVEN TO ME FOR HYPERTHYROID AND HAVE BEEN ON MANY DIFFERENT DOSES OF SYNTHROID. RIGHT NOW I’M ON .88. HOW LONG DOES THAT RADIOACTIVE CAPSULE REMAIN IN THE BODY? IT BURNS PART OF THE THYROID BUT DOES IT GROW BACK OR CHANGE? I’M 66 AND HAVE 7% BONE LOSS IN RIGHT HIP. I DO GO TO AN ENDOCRINOLOGIST EVERY 3 MOS. THANK YOU, VIVIAN
I too have many questions about this. I am having my thyroid radiated this weekend and have hopes for less bone loss once i am not hyperthyroid anymore . I have osteoprosis too.I cant find much info on hyper thyroid…mainly hypo. My endocronologist said that hyperthyroid pulls calcium from the bone and should slow the loss down. Have you had slowed loss? I am so hopeful.
Excelent article about iodine!!!
Thanks Vivian for all that you do.
Loved the baked potato and mushroom recipe…and for a change just change the type of mushrooms and you have a new flavor experience without getting tired of it. My husband has a habit of fixating on something he likes and goes overboard so I have to change it around a bit for myself to have variety which most of us like. Thanks Vivian for always being there to update us on what is happening….
Join Dr. Bob: The Drugless Doctor on https://www.vokle.com on Thursday, March 31st at Noon EST for a live Q & A about iodine. Follow Dr. Bob on Twitter, @druglessdoctor
I have hypothyroid & have been taking (1)Iodizyme-HP tablet (Biotics Research Corp brand) daily for over a year, per local naturalist/kinesiologist Dr. The bottle shows 1/2 tablet provides 6.25 mg Total Iodine/Iodide; the Iodine content is 2.5mg & the Iodide as potassium salt is 3.75mg. Am I overdosing my thyroid & if so, what’s the danger to me? It’s confusing & of course I wanna do the right thing. Thanks.
As I state in the blog post, if you have thyroid issues, please check in with your health care practitioner. This is a condition that needs to be regulated on an individual basis — I can’t tell you what’s right for your particular case.
i am on 100mlg of unithroid. i still have all symmotps. brain fog hair thinning rapidly. anxiety depression high cholesterol. osteopenia. gingivitis. but when i try to go on a larger dose i feel worse. i have tried t3 t4 combo medications and feel worse. someone said adrenal issues it sounds like. i cant tolerate cold and heat. please help thanks jerry
It seems to me that if you are seeing a dr who does muscle testing, he/she should be able to advise you on your own body’s upper limits on iodine. But to further your education on the whole iodine subject, try dr rowen’s 2nd opinion. March 18, 2011. It’s a free health alert that I get on my email. Dr. Mercola also has free advice and vids of talks on these subjects between himself and various other drs.
As to the “daily allowances” on iodine, I don’t put much stock in those unless I know it’s not just a guess on their part. Which in the case of iodine, it is a guess. They don’t know. The Japanese ingest around 13mg (not mcgs) a day of iodine. Most Americans are deficient. Possibly 95% of us. Happy research.
Thank you so much for all these information Vivian.Got bless you
This article came at a good time for me. I have had osteoporosis for 5 years which during this time numerous tests have been ran to find a cause. During a routine yearly exam my thyroid test came back hyperthyroid. During the testing at the hosital for why my thyroid was acting up it had gone back to a low normal and no longer hyperthyroid. A few days later I could tell from the symptoms that I was hyperthyroid again. Good news is after having my”hot nodule” burned out I may be able to stop the progression of my osteo with your diet and exercise.Vivian, Do you think that your thyroid can go up and down like this for years before it is ever detected? Can this be a direct cause of osteoporosis?
Thanks Vivian for the information about iodine
You need to avoid food with excessive ioidne.Dairy has excessive ioidne, so you need to avoid that. The ioidne in dairy comes from the chemicals used to clean the cow milking equipment.You should not have any IODIZED salt AT ALL. Non-iodized salt is fine, as long as salt is otherwise ok for you. If you have high blood pressure, for example, you need to avoid salt entirely, both iodized and non-iodized.Watch out for your vitamins, if you take them. Don’t take any with ioidne added. Read labels carefully, and switch to a vitamin with no ioidne.You need to start reading ingredient labels on everything. Avoid anything with kelp, or carageenan.You really do need to cut the caffeine, and the alcohol too. This is because both interfere with your sleep. It’s hard enough to sleep when you have hyperthyroidism. Caffeine also contributes to your heart palpitations and tachycardia that you are probably experienceing.
Thank you, Vivian, for the clear iodine explanation. Shula.
Thank you Vivian for all your help with the information that you give. Lots Jean xxxx
Thank you, Vivian, from a retired consultant anaesthetist NHS (doctor) in the UK. We need your compelling and so well-researched input re bone health, especially here in the UK. where many pensioners are tempted to take unnecessary and possibly harmful medication, just because it is “FREE” under the NHS. Would it be possible to put (in brackets) the UK equivalents of some of the foods and/or supplements that you recommend? These might be unfamiliar to some of us.
What is in Murray River pink salt flakes, labelled a “gourmet salt”? I was given a gift of some when in Australia at Christmas? This is not a frivolous query as my young grandchildren are using it, sparingly!!
Keep up the very much needed good work.
Vivian, I thank you so much for this important information.
Thank you Vivian, as always, for the iodine information. I checked my daily multi and it has 150 mcg of iodine from potassium iodide! Guess I need to shop for another vitamin (it took forever to find this one!) I was diagnosed with hypothyroid 35 years ago. I take Armour thyroid everyday and have all the thyroid tests done once a year and all is well.
Thank you for the information. I have a good thyroid and would like to keep it this way.
Thank you Vivian for this information. Most of my family …Aunt’s, cousin’s, mother and sisters have either an over active thyroid or under active.
The recipe you posted sounds delicious and I’ll try it as a side dish for dinner. I’ve been meaning to ask you…when is your cook book going to be released ?
I take 75gm of levothyroxine a day to conteract the effects of an underactive thyroid. Can this affect my bone health?
I think that should be 75 mcg.Otherwise you are on a huge dose of thyroid replacement.
I take 200 mcg for my thyriod replacement.
How ever 20 yersago when I had my thyriod
removed I didn’t get enought medication
so my feet went to sleep,
Thanks for the information. I did find the article very interesting.
No. There are only the same old trusty meds that have been used for the past 50 years. Methimizole and Propylthiouracil. They are both ptclerefy good meds for hyperthyroidism.Why do you ask? New isn’t better, BTW. New means unknown side effects.
Katie,You have always been an eneguraoemcnt to me. I know it’s supposed to be the other way around since I’m the older sister, but I’ve always looked up to you even in your moments of weakness. I am so very proud of you and all you do for others. I lean on these verses all the time raising your niece with autism. I couldn’t do it on my own strength. I am not anywhere close to where I need to be in my relationship with God but in a much better place than I was before I had Madison. He has used her and the challenges of autism to bring me back to him and realize I can’t do it on my own!Hang in there sis. I love you so much and wish I could be there for you!
I was diagnosed with osteopenia before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism. My bone density got worse as I struggled to find the right medication/dose for me.
Since 2002 or so, I have felt well on 4 grains of natural desiccated thyroid. My TSH has been 0.01 since then. Yet my bone density has improved considerably.
TSH doesn’t seen to be the whole story. My doctor contends that untreated/undertreated hypothyroidism is as damaging to bone health as overtreatment/hyperthyroidism.
not yet, but looking into fiidnng better ways to communicate with readers..considering facebook link, just trying to find the balance between safety and being able to communicate thanks for your interest..hopefully will have some things updated in the next several weeks..
You are right – LOW thyroid is bad for bones too! I am also on 4 grains of dessicated thyroid – my TSH is too low to measure and I have NO hyperthyroid symptoms and this dose is the one that makes me feel well. With Hashimotos, the latest research (with holistic minded doctors) shows that a suppressed TSH is the best way to prevent further damage to the thyroid also. Natural thyroid contains calcitonin which builds bone – Levothyroxine, which most mainstream doctors like to push as the only needed treatment does not work as well and contains only T4 – and having a suppressed TSH with that can cause a slight bone loss. But with Natural there is evidence that there is no problem with a suppressed TSH. Before I got on thyroid meds my TSH was going DOWN while my free T3 was also going down! Should have been the opposite but obviously some of us don’t respond to low thyroid by creating more TSH and some also don’t convert T4 to T3 well. Way too many endocrinologists are too hung up on TSH and Synthroid and their patients are paying for it with poor health!
Recently I was advised to take as much as 30 drops of magnescent iodine daily since I have a resistant strain of malaria as well as osteoporsis and because I took chloroquine for 8 years am resistant to chloroquine. I have been concerned that the iodine is too much but am trying it. Can that much be harmful? I also had radioactive iodine for goiter about 20 years ago and some people say it knocks out the thyroid completely? Because I went back to Africa I did not take any supplements and never have until this recent intake of iodine.
There is a different and I think very interesting take on iodine at https://www.vitamincfoundation.org/iodine.htm
Once had a pt with both low TSH/FT4 (can’t accurately measure TSH (for thyroid, alone) without the FT4 – it’s anterior to the parathyroid which regulates vit D, calcium, parathyroid hormone.
Unable to manage her osteoporosis (because she declined anything but natural), I sent her to an endocrinologist. She talked him into measuring her iodine level which was low. Interestingly enough, it operates on both thyroid and parathyroid. Dose has to correct. Contact your doc and ask for the test or a referral to an endocrinologist who ‘just’ might be open to this idea. BTW her pain decreased significantly and her thyroid function improved.