In This Article
Who is at the Greatest Risk of Iodine Deficiency?
Sadly, still, some 2 billion people around the globe are deficient in iodine, with 50 million experiencing severe symptoms of iodine deficiency. Even more alarming is that women of childbearing age are the most likely to be iodine deficient. During pregnancy, iodine levels more than double in the mother because of its important role in child development. Iodine is a critical nutrient for an infant’s brain and neural development, and it provides thyroid hormone for the baby during pregnancy and lactation. Elderly people are also at greater risk of iodine deficiency, as well as those adults who choose to avoid iodized salt and dairy products, which are the two major sources of iodine. In the last 25 years, there has been a 65% decrease in the consumption of iodized salt.
In one study, researchers in New Zealand measured the iodine levels in 309 elderly people living in residential care facilities. They found that half of the group was mildly deficient and 29% were moderately deficient in iodine. Another study of almost 6000 American adults found that the major cause of iodine deficiency was a diet that was lacking in bread, eggs, dairy, iodized salt, and iodine supplementation.
Researchers also found that within their participants, 25% of the vegetarians and 80% of the vegans were also iodine deficient, making supplementation for these groups a strong consideration.
Getting the Best Type of Iodine for Radiation Protection and Optimal Health
Iodine is on the minds of many these days as the threat of nuclear conflict rises to new levels. This along with emerging research on further health benefits may leave people wondering: what is the best form of iodine?
Potassium Iodide versus Molecular Iodine
Potassium iodide (a salt form of stable iodine) is considered the best source of iodine to saturate the thyroid gland, protecting it from exposure to radioactive iodine. While this iodide is more protective for the skin and thyroid, there are iodine receptors all over the body. Some of our cells, such as those in the thyroid, have receptors for iodide while others, like the cells of the breast and prostate, have receptors for iodine—making both extremely important.
Critics of supplementing potassium iodide for thyroid protection during nuclear fallout suggest that exposure to other radioactive chemicals will do more DNA damage to other parts of the body—so, why try just to protect the thyroid?
That’s where molecular iodine comes in. There is a growing body of research that is finding that iodine, not iodide, can protect the cells from DNA damage, including within the thyroid. Potassium iodide does not actually protect the thyroid from DNA damage; it is taken at high dosages in order to flood the thyroid receptors. This means any incoming radioactive iodine from potential fallout does not have available thyroid receptors to bind to.
You may wonder—how can iodine protect against DNA damage beyond flooding these receptors? In one study, iodine was found to be a naturally occurring antioxidant that activates the body’s free radical-scavenging enzymes. It supports the proliferation of healthy stem cells while protecting the body from chemicals and DNA damage. The study concluded that 1mg a day of iodine, not iodide, was indicated for benefits beyond just the thyroid.
For iodine deficiencies and to protect the body from radiation, we recommend considering a formula like LifeSpa’s Iodine HP, which has 7.5mg of potassium iodide and 5mg of molecular iodine.
In another study, supplemental iodine was found to convert into an iodine derivative that supports natural antiproliferative and apoptotic effects in the breast tissue and thyroid gland. The study found that it had similar effects on the prostate, colon, and nervous systems. These results could suggest iodine to be a potential adjunctive therapy for other cellular replication health concerns.
Iodine Deficiency Linked to Metabolic Syndrome
In a study of almost 3000 healthy Chinese adults, urinary iodine levels were measured to determine if there was a correlation between low iodine levels and a higher prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of health concerns that are related to an increased risk of heart and blood sugar issues, including abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
Researchers found there was an inverse relationship between iodine levels and metabolic health. The lower the urinary iodine level, the greater the risk of Metabolic Syndrome. Those with optimal iodine levels had minimal risk of the same metabolic concerns.
Between 2007 and 2012, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) evaluated over 2400 adults with an average age of 56. They found a significant correlation between low levels of iodine and increased risk of cardiovascular health concerns. In another study using subjects from the same NHANES survey, researchers aimed to test the hypothesis that low iodine levels were correlated with high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDLs, and high LDLs. In U.S. adults, they found that low iodine levels increased the odds of dyslipidemia (an imbalance of the body’s lipids including high cholesterol, high LDL levels, and low HDL levels).
In a study in urban China, more than 4500 adults with diabetes were evaluated for their urinary iodine levels. In this study, 40% of the group was iodine deficient. They also found that 52% of the study group was consuming non-iodized salt. They also correlated low iodine levels to an increased risk of blood sugar-related kidney issues.
While iodine is often discussed in terms of its important thyroid protection abilities, it is clear that iodine is also linked to numerous aspects of optimal health.