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Iodine Deficiency - Important in Many Health Problems, Yet Underestimated and Misunderstood

  [ 92 votes ]   [ 7 Comments ]
By Clinical Nutritionist Blake Graham* • • March 1, 2011

Based in Perth, Western Australia, Blake Graham specializes in nutritional and environmental treatments for those with chronic medical conditions, such as ME/CFS, FM, and MCS. This article is reproduced with kind permission from his Nutritional Healing Newsletter at


Iodine is a mineral of universal suboptimal status in many places in the world, including Australia and America.

American iodine expert Dr. David Brownstein, MD, author of Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It (4th edition, book or DVD), writes that his clinic in Michigan has tested around 5,000 patients and found 96% of people are iodine deficient.

Dr. Brownstein finds treating this deficiency extremely important for a range of health issues, including:

• Hypothyroidism,

• Chronic fatigue syndrome,

• Fibrocystic breast disease, and many others.

Iodine is most well known for its role as a constituent of thyroid hormones.

But iodine also has many other important functions, including in:

• The metabolism of other hormones (including adrenal and sex hormones),

• Immune function,

• Detoxification of fluoride and bromide [see Dr. Brownstein’s YouTube videos on the need for iodine as a detoxifying agent to counteract widespread bromide, fluoride, and mercury toxicity, which “are only possible in an iodine deficient state” - and],

• Antioxidant balance, etc.

Optimizing iodine levels is associated with:

• A sense of overall wellbeing,

• Lifting of a brain fog,

• Feeling warmer in cold environments,

• Increased energy,

• Needing less sleep,

• Achieving more in less time,

• Experiencing regular bowel movements,

• And improved skin complexion.(1)

Testing for Iodine Sufficiency

The gold standard test for iodine sufficiency is called the Iodine Loading Test. The Iodine/Iodide Loading Test is based on the concept that the human body has a mechanism to retain ingested iodine until whole body sufficiency for iodine is achieved.

• During optimal iodine supplementation, a mechanism is triggered that progressively adjusts the excretion of iodine to balance the intake.

• As the body iodine content increases, the percent of the iodine load retained decreases with an increase in the amount of iodide excreted in the 24 hour urine collection.

• The more deficient a subject is in iodine, the more iodine is retained by the body and the least excreted in the urine.

• Sufficiency is achieved when 90% or more of the ingested amount is excreted in the urine.

• The test consists of ingesting a high dose iodine/iodide (50 mg). Urinary iodide levels are measured in the following 24 hour collection. (1, 2)

Dietary Intake Is Often Insufficient

The doses of iodine required to achieve ideal levels are considerably higher than that provided by iodized salt and basic mineral supplements. To achieve optimal iodine levels people should do the above test. [It can be ordered from the labs listed below, and if your levels are low, ask your medical team about taking an iodine-rich supplement. A very high-dosage product is] Iodoral, by Optimox.

For more information on the importance of optimizing dietary iodine levels, visit Iodine Publications [This linked listing of more than 20 recent iodine research papers includes several published in 2007-2008 dealing specifically with the effects of iodine supplementation in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia patients.]

Lack of Iodine as a Promoter of Cancer, Especially in Women

See the YouTube presentation by Dr. Jorge D. Flechas, MD, MPH, on “Iodine Insufficiency and Cancer,” including thyroid, breast, ovarian, endometrial, stomach, and other cancers. He explains why females are more often affected, and the role of limiting dietary salt intake or cooking with un-iodized salt. Dr. Flechas specializes in iodine therapy and in hormonal therapy treatment of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia at his clinic in North Carolina.

Some Test Sources

If you are in Australia and would like to do the Iodine Loading Test, send us an e-mail with your postal address and we can post you a test form. The test fee is $60 AUS.

In the U.S., labs offering the Iodine/Iodide 24-hour Loading Test are:

FFP Laboratories, Flat Rock, North Carolina

Hakala Research, Lake Wood, Colorado

DDI – Doctor’s Data Inc., St. Charles, Illinois


1. Guy Abraham, MD. “The safe and effective implementation of orthoiodosupplementation in medical practice,” The Original Internist, 11:17-36, 2004.

2. Guy Abraham, MD, and David Brownstein, MD. “A Simple Procedure Combining The Evaluation of Whole Body Sufficiency for Iodine with The Efficiency of the Body To Utilize Peripheral Iodide: The Triple Test," The Original Internist, Vol. 14, No. 1, 17-23, March 2007

*Blake Graham, BSc (Honours), AACNEM
Clinical Nutritionist
Perth, Western Australia
Phone/Email: See Contact Page

Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not meant to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

iodine deficiency
Posted by: merida
May 6, 2009
I find this very interesting but have a question regarding the metabolism of iodine in the total absence of a thyroid gland. I have no thyroid in evidence on a CT scan having apparently been destroyed by a virus. I was told that taking iodine would do nothing since there was no where for it to be processed. Is this true? I take Liothyronine, T3, since my body appears to be unable to process Thyroxine, T4, adequately. I was also told during a medical procedure that iodine is now obtained from the shells of shell fish rather than seaweed now adays (in Uk) & that people who have multiple allergies should not use it, or have it used as a contrast dye for X-ray procedures. Similarly from a religious point of view I would not want to use something made from shell fish. Does all iodine come from the shells fish now? Is there any where in the UK doing these iodine tests? I have a very able & interested general medical consultant- where would he be able to find the information needed to carry our these tests? Is Dr.Klimas carrying out these tests? I have e'm contact with her. Thanks Merida.
Reply Reply

Source of Iodine in Supplements
Posted by: Minnesota
Sep 26, 2009
The label info on iodine-containing supplements indicates its source. It seems most is still derived from kelp in the US at least.
Reply Reply

Watch Out!
Posted by: fnx3
Sep 30, 2009
Early in trying to find out what the !@#! was going wrong with my body, my GP found that I was deficient in Iodine (& I do live in Australia too) so he put me on a liquid Iodine supplement with instructions to increase the dosage each week until at a maximum level & then maintain that until the next 6 monthly check. Well ... one drop was OK, two drops seemed fine & I started to notice the brain fog definitely reducing - I was impressed! But as I increased the drops to three then four I also noticed that I could feel my pulse pounding in my head & it would increase with each extra drop each week. I advised my gp of this but he said it was nothing & to continue - so I did. I persisted for about 6 weeks until finally I just couldn't stand it any longer - the pounding was amplifying the sound of the Tinnitus inside my head making it extra hard to get to sleep at night. I finally discovered through my own "googling" that some people do have just such a reaction to Iodine & I am thinking that would people with Fibromyalgia who can already be hyper-sensitive to any introduced agent whether chemical or herbal or food, would definitely be in that category - WATCH OUT! I just stopped taking the Iodine supplement altogether & thank goodness the next 6 monthly check showed that the level was back to an acceptable level - phew! However, as I bake my own bread I do always add one drop of this Iodine supplement to the mix - just to make sure that both myself & my whole family are getting a tiny top-up as I do recognize the health benefits of Iodine.
Reply Reply

iodine reaction could be detox
Posted by: uxordepp
Jan 1, 2011
Because so many of us are deficient in iodine, we may have built up toxins in our systems such as bromine, which can lodge in receptors intended for iodine. Taking iodine at certain dosages (and this seems to vary from individual to individual) will start to dislodge the toxins, which will lead to their excretion (a good thing!) but in the meantime can cause unpleasant symptoms such as acne, fatigue... If you are taking iodine, there are supplements which should be taken with it in order to keep things working well. Please read Dr. Brownstein's book or join the iodine group on Yahoo for more information. Don't give up on the iodine!
Reply Reply

foods that contain iodine?
Posted by: Sandy10m
Mar 12, 2011
I was hoping to see a paragraph at the end, stating how people can get more iodine the natural way, by eating certain foods. However, that information was lacking in the article. Sigh. I checked online, and the best natural sources of iodine are products from the ocean where iodine is prevalent: saltwater fish such as haddock, cod, salmon, sea bass and perch. Eggs and shellfish are secondary sources and not as high in iodine. Kelp supplements are good sources too, but I always go for the natural food way first. This website seemed to have a good summary of information, including the foods that interfere with iodine absorption.
Reply Reply

Iodine supplementation
Posted by: mrussell
Mar 14, 2011
So - I understand my body needs iodine, but what is a person who's allergic to iodine supposed to do? Every time I've tried to supplement it, by day 3 I'm itching all over, and breaking out in rashes... I already take Armour thyroid for Hypothyroidism, and have had to increase it over the decades.
Reply Reply

iodine allergy????
Posted by: IanH
Mar 3, 2012
You cannot be allergic to iodine. Iodine is an element. No elemental allergies are known or possible. However it is common for people to experience some itching in response to initial higher doses of iodine, especially if you already take iodine-hormones, as in "armor thyroid". Iodine overdose is unlikely and very rare and requires very large doses of iodine. You itching may be to do with the preparation. Most iodine supplements contain iodates, some of which are bound to amino acids. Some also contain alcohol and preservative compounds such a benzoate.
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