Supplemental iodine is available in different forms, each of which affects specific tissues in the body. Potassium and sodium iodide are best absorbed by the thyroid. Breast tissue uses iodine most efficiently in the form of molecular iodine.
Because of this, you need a supplement that includes more than one form of the mineral. The best formula provides three forms of iodine, sodium iodide, potassium iodide, and molecular iodide – at levels that can actually make a noticeably positive difference.
Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is an author and iodine expert who has treated thousands of patients in his clinic. He states, “As I started to use larger amounts of iodine (12.5-50 mg/day) to achieve whole body sufficiency, I began to see positive results in my patients. Goiters and nodules of the thyroid shrank, cysts on the ovaries became smaller and began to disappear, patients reported increased energy, and metabolism was increased as evidenced by my patients having new success in losing weight. Libido improved in both men and women. People suffering from brain fog reported a clearing of the fogginess. Patients reported having vivid dreams and sleeping better. Most importantly, those with chronic illnesses that were having a difficult time improving began to notice many of their symptoms resolving.”
Why You Need Iodine for Thyroid Support
Your thyroid is under attack all the time, and it’s going to affect your mood, your immune system, your focus, and definitely, your weight. There are few reasons for thyroid health problems becoming so prominent, but I’m certain that the disappearance of iodine in our diets and common conventional medical practice are two of the major causes.
What the Thyroid Does
This butterfly-shaped gland sits at the base of the throat. One of the chief functions of the thyroid is the production of the hormone, thyroxine (T4), and the conversion of this hormone into triiodothyronine (T3) as needed for metabolism.
However, things can go bad if the body produces too little thyroxine to begin with. Normal metabolic and other chemical processes slow down, and you have hypothyroidism or low thyroid.
Low functioning thyroids are common in both men and women, although from my experience, women are far more apt to have hypothyroidism than men. But diagnosing hypothyroidism isn’t always what it should be. The most serious problem is that many doctors rely completely on a blood test that is grossly inaccurate and overlooks a majority of low thyroid function diagnoses.
Why Most Thyroid Tests Don’t Provide the Full Picture
When doctors test for blood levels of T4, they generally find adequate levels of the hormone, so they naturally rule out hypothyroidism. But focusing on T4 levels only provides half of the picture, and the tests aren’t truly far-reaching. Many of these “good” readings of T4 don’t take into consideration the levels of T4 that need to be converted to T3, the active hormone.
In fact, readings of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), thyroxine levels and other blood parameters may lead one to believe you are in the “normal” range when the normal range may be far too broad. A test initiated by Dr. Broda Barnes, considered to be one of the premier experts on thyroid, is far better. Plus, it has the added convenience of being able to be performed it at home.
The procedure is simple:
- Take a non-digital thermometer and place it on your bedside table
- In the morning upon wakening – without getting out of bed – place the thermometer in your armpit and hold arm close to body for 10 minutes
- Read temperature and record (women in menstruation should wait for ovulation to cease)
- Repeat procedure each day for three days
Normal is between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything under 97.8 probably means varying degrees of hypothyroidism. The lower the temperature, the worse the condition. In some cases, it’s not unusual to find readings as low as 96 degrees.
Unfortunately, in many cases of hypothyroidism, doctors fall back on the catchall diagnoses: stress, anxiety or depression, because these are symptoms of the real disease. They overlook the root cause of these symptoms.
Let me emphasize the fact that low thyroid is very serious. Beyond weight gain, disruptions to the health of the thyroid can alter your personality significantly, completely taking away the enjoyment of life and eventually leading to depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior.
L-Tyrosine – Required for Your Thyroid
You may not hear about L-tyrosine that much, but without it there would be no hormone function and the adrenals would also be severely affected.
L-tyrosine, also known simply as “tyrosine”, is a natural amino acid found in legumes, cheese, and many protein-rich foods. It is a must for creating thyroid hormones, and that’s why you may need it in supplemental form – especially if your diet is a bit shy of food sources.
The thyroid gland uses two major building blocks to make thyroid hormone—iodine and L-tyrosine. Insufficient levels of either nutrient cause a decrease in the formation of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Of course, L- tyrosine isn’t only involved with thyroid hormone production – it also helps produce noradrenaline and dopamine. But it is impossible to have a well-functioning thyroid without sufficient quantities in the diet or through supplementation. Due to L-tyrosine’s role in creating neurochemicals, it’s probably no surprise that this amino acid is an excellent stress reliever and a natural treatment for depression as well.
Thyroid Health Really is That Important!
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that just one small system in the body can be allowed to “slow down a little”, but thyroid health is extremely important.
The thyroid regulates the complete metabolic function of the body. Any dysfunction will make a tremendous impact on how much weight you carry, and how easy (or not) it is to regulate that weight. Plus, an imbalance of its hormone can produce skin disorders, irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, muscle dysfunction, gastrointestinal disturbances, mental confusion, severe depression, decreased libido, extreme fatigue and apathy. But I think you get the idea. The thyroid very definitely affects how you feel and how you relate to life in general.
Supplementing With Iodine
There’s a fear surrounding iodine and iodine supplementation that is completely unfounded, but it’s important to get iodine in different forms — including molecular iodine, sodium iodide, and potassium iodide — for more complete whole-body effects.
Remember, iodine was routinely used by physicians until the late 1930’s at doses of 37 mg or more per day, depending upon the disorder. Aside from thyroid, recent research has proven that all cells have a receptor site for iodine, in particular the breast, prostate, ovaries and uterus, which require iodine in order to function properly.
The right dosage truly depends on individual needs. Unfortunately, like many healthy nutrients, the reported amount for a suggested intake is only enough to prevent goiter. Integrative practitioners often suggest 50 mg per day for 3 months followed by 6.25 or 12.5 mg daily thereafter for optimal health. However, it’s best to find a practitioner that can help you develop a regimen that’s perfectly tailored for you. Look for supplements that provide these dosage levels so you get exactly the amount you need.
The ingredients I’d recommend more specifically for thyroid concerns include a combination of up to 30-60 mg of three forms of iodine along with 400-800 mg of L-tyrosine once or twice daily, depending on your situation. It may take 3-6 months to fully restore the thyroid and its metabolic function, so please be patient. After all, you may have inherited this condition.
I’d also highly recommend reading Iodine Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It and Overcoming Thyroid Disorders by Dr. David Brownstein. You can find them in your local health food store or on his website at www.drbrownstein.com.
Terry Lemerond Author and Educator, has 40 years experience in the health food industry as an owner of several health food stores and nutritional manufacturing companies. Follow him at Terry Talks Nutrition.