Thyroid disorders are becoming an ever increasing problem these days and there is a tremendous amount of confusion concerning iodine. If you suffer from a thyroid condition such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, or Hashimoto’s then you might be asking the question, “why is iodine so important?”
What is the Thyroid and what does it do?
Before we look at iodine and all of it’s functions, you first have to understand what the thyroid is and what it does. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that affect virtually every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:
These thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and body weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. They signal the production of virtually all growth factors in your body, including:
Somatomedins (skeletal tissue growth)
Erythropoietin (involved in the development of red blood cells)
Nerve growth factor
Epidermal growth factor
Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Almost 90 percent of the hormone produced by your thyroid is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver then converts the T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme. Ideally, you will make what you need and have the correct amounts of T3 and T4, which control the metabolism of every cell in your body. If your T3 is inadequate, either by scarce production or not converting properly from T4, your entire body will experience symptoms.
The Problems with Thyroid Testing
If you have a thyroid condition then you’ve probably heard of T3, T4, and TSH tests. The TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test has become the gold standard for determining the activity level of the thyroid. Here are all the tests that a typical doctor might do to diagnose and treat a thyroid condition.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test
Thyroid Antibody Tests
The problem with the TSH test and all thyroid tests is that they misrepresent what is happening with the thyroid and pituitary. Here’s a quote from an article from the Epoch Times, explaining why a TSH test doesn’t give you a clear and whole picture of what’s going on with the thyroid.
“In order to detect a thyroid problem, a TSH test must assume that hormonal signaling in the rest of the system is functioning normally.”
“Because endocrine disrupting chemicals may disrupt many points along the signaling system and not just the thyroid, it can be difficult to identify an imbalance with a TSH test alone…this is a big reason why the conventional blood tests and reference ranges used to detect a thyroid abnormality can overlook real problems.”
You can read this article by clicking the link below:
Just like how a blood pressure test doesn’t take into account all the factors that affect blood flow, thyroid testing doesn’t look at important factor like toxic exposure such as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Here’s another quote about toxic exposure:
“Toxins don’t have to reach high levels in order to affect a delicate system that’s very, very vulnerable to toxicity. Especially the thyroid which I think is the most vulnerable component of the endocrine system.”
Dr. Raphael Kellman, Thyroid Disorders Specialist
This quote is from a great article by Dr. Mercola which you can read by clicking the link below:
Toxicity is obviously an important factor, however, even these doctors aren’t looking at all the possible factors that can negatively affect the thyroid. So now we have to look at that magical formula:
Toxicity + Deficiency = Disease
What can Disrupt Thyroid Function?
Toxicity and Deficiency are very vague terms that could represent a large number of things and factors. If you listed all the possible toxins and deficiencies, along with an explanation of how they exactly affect the body, it would be enough material to fill a book, but here is a short list of some important factors that can disrupt your thyroid function.
- Chronic Stress (chronically elevated cortisol levels)
- Medications (steroids, barbiturates, cholesterol lowering drugs, and beta blockers)
- Estrogen Dominance (consuming estrogenic foods like soy or taking birth control)
- Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (Mercury, lead, phthalates, and (BPA) bisphenol-A)
- Bromine Exposure (pesticides, plastics, baked goods, soft drinks, medications)
- Fluoride and Chlorine (added to drinking water all over the world)
- Heavy Metals (vaccines, large fish, and amalgam fillings)
- Vegetable Oils (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils)
- Unhealthy fats (polyunsaturated oils)
This is a very short list of just some of the possible factors and toxins that can negatively affect your thyroid function, but you might have noticed there aren’t any deficiencies listed here.
What Deficiencies can affect the Thyroid?
The thyroid obviously needs iodine in order to function properly because the T3 and T4 it produces actually require 3 molecules of iodine for T3 and 4 molecules of iodine for T4, but before you start trying to correct any deficiencies you must address any toxic exposures. The solution is not as simple as just taking an iodine supplement or consuming iodine rich foods, in fact iodine isn’t the only nutrient your thyroid requires in order to function normally. Here’s a list of all the nutrients that your thyroid requires:
Omega 3 fats
Many experts, nutritionists and doctors will usually treat a thyroid condition by simply prescribing an iodine supplement, but as you can see from this list, if you are also deficient in these other nutrients your thyroid still can’t function normally. This is why so many people get so frustrated when they’ve done all the hard work of eliminating all their toxic exposures and then they start supplementing with iodine and then they wonder why they still have a thyroid problem. To correct these other deficiencies the best solution by far would be to consume nutrient rich food because your body’s absorption and utilization of the nutrients will always be more efficient. The only time you should ever supplement is if you don’t have access to healthy, nutrient rich food.
Iodine, you can’t live without it!
Iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid and efficient metabolism and comprises a large part of the thyroid hormone molecule. The problem is iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies along with magnesium and vitamin D. Keep in mind that T3 has three molecules of iodine and T4 has four attached iodine molecules. So you only have two options to get proper amounts of iodine in your body, supplementation or consuming iodine rich foods. Supplementation should always be a last resort because your body’s absorption and utilization of iodine will always be more efficient if you consume iodine rich food. Here are some excellent examples and ways of getting more iodine in your diet:
Kombu added to soups or bean dishes
Black seaweed on salads or added to soup
Season foods with dulse or kelp powder instead of salt
Smaller cold water fish: mackerel, anchovies
Wild caught Salmon from Alaska
Avoid farm-raised fish
Avoid larger fish: tuna, shark and swordfish (high in mercury)
Supplementing with Iodine
If you don’t have access to any of those sources of iodine then the next best option would be supplementation, however it’s best to have a doctor or nutritionist help you find the correct dosage for your situation. This can get quite confusing because everyone will require different amounts of iodine supplementation for their specific situation. For example, high dose supplementation can be beneficial for a short period of time but there are potential risks to taking too much iodine. Now you should be asking the questions, “what is a high dosage and what is a normal dosage? The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 150 mcg, but some doctors like Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book “Iodine: Why You Need It. Why You Can’t Live Without It” recommends 12.5 milligrams on a regular basis. The difference between 150mcg and 12.5 milligrams is extremely different. Then you start looking at Japan where they consume plenty of iodine rich food such as fish and seaweed and the iodine obtained from dietary sources averages 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2 to 3 milligrams (mg). Let’s list all of this out because it’s getting very confusing:
The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 150 mcg
Dr. David Brownstein recommends 12.5 milligrams on a regular basis
In Japan, people get 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2 to 3 milligrams (mg) through their diet
These are all very different numbers and you can see why supplementing can be so confusing which is why it’s always best to find a doctor or expert that can guide through the process of restoring your thyroid function. If you don’t have access to a knowledgeable expert then keep in mind, daily supplementation of a few milligrams (mg) is enough for most people. The supplement that Dr. Bergman currently uses and recommends to his patients is Lugols Iodine from Ancient Purities:
Here’s a link to their website:
Generally, the normal daily recommendation for this particular supplement is two drops in a glass of water daily, but please remember to always check the recommendations on the labels of your supplement because every brand is different and contains different mixtures of iodine.
Other Ways to Boost Your Thyroid Function
Hopefully by now you’ve addressed your toxic exposures, chronic stress, nutrient deficiencies, and you’re either consuming iodine rich food or supplementing appropriately, but there are still so many ways you can radically improve your thyroid function. Here are a few ways to boost your thyroid function:
Chiropractic Care – stimulates the nerve supply to your thyroid and optimal function of your entire body
Regular Exercise – stimulates thyroid gland secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormones
Proper Nutrition – radishes help regulate thyroid gland function and coconut oil reduces body fat, improves insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and increases energy expenditure
Do you still have some questions?
If you’d like to learn more about Iodine and thyroid disorders, here are a few of Dr. Bergman’s videos to get you started: