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Iodine Deficiency



Edited by Dr. Qinghong Han A.P.

Iodine is an essential element. It’s found in each of the trillions of cells in the human body. Although its main function is in the production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland, other organs in the body have a need for iodine in order to function normally. Iodine is necessary to produce all of the body’s hormones. Adequate iodine levels are essential for proper immune system functioning. Iodine contains potent anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties. It’s effective for treating fibrocystic breasts and ovarian cysts. Chinese people have used seaweed (sea vegetables) such as kelp to treat goiter, fibrocystic breasts and ovarian/uterine cysts.

Several studies have demonstrated a relationship between low iodine intake and fibrocystic disease of the breast, both in women and in laboratory animals. Several investigators have shown convincing evidence connecting inadequate iodine intake and breast cancer. Women living in Japan consume a daily average of 13.8 mg of total elemental iodine and experience one of the lowest risks of cancers of the breast, ovaries and uterus. In the 1960s, one slice of commercial, packaged white bread in the U.S. contained the full FDA daily requirement of 0.15 mg iodine. At that time, a woman’s risk of breast cancer was one in 20. But over the last two decades, iodine was replaced in the bread-making process by bromine. Bromine blocks thyroid function and may interfere with iodine’s ability to prevent breast cancer. And now American women’s risk of getting breast cancer is one out of eight, and is increasing by one percent per year.

Fortunately, we have lab tests that can check for iodine deficiency, a spot test and a loading test, both done in one 24-hour period. The spot test examines a person’s first urination of the day, and can determine whether the amount of iodine it contains may or may not be enough to prevent goiter. The spot test can also predict a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. If there is inadequate iodine, the doctor can prescribe iodine supplements.

The loading test, on the other hand, determines whether a person has enough iodine, and is conducted after the spot test. In the loading test, the patient is given 50 mg of iodine and iodide, and the patient then begins a 24-hour period of collecting their urine. The collected urine will show how many milligrams of iodide the person has excreted, and what percentage that represents of the 50 mg they ingested. The object is to make sure that the patient’s body contains a 45-mg-or-greater percentage of iodine/iodide.


The US government established the RDA (recommended daily amounts) for vitamins and minerals in the 1940s. Iodine was one of the last essential elements included in the RDA system. Its level was established in 1980 and confirmed in 1989. The RDA for iodine was based only on the amount of iodine/iodide needed to prevent goiter and hypothyroidism, a condition in which a person’s thyroid is under-active.

Surprisingly, the optimal whole body iodine level has never been studied. Therefore the optimal amount is not known. Based on demographic studies, Japanese natives living in Japan consume an average of 13.8 mg daily and are among the healthiest people on the planet. Lugol solution is a time-tested iodine/iodide supplement with a proven track record for preventing and treating goiter. Two drops contain 12.5 mg iodine/iodide, an amount very close to the average intake of the native Japanese. However, when a patient takes the liquid form of Lugol, in drops, it’s not very accurate, it may stain clothing purple, it has an unpleasant taste, and can cause gastric irritation. Iodide/iodine in tablets is more accurate in dosage than Lugol, doesn’t stain clothing, and doesn’t cause stomach irritation.