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Mary Shomon

Get Rid of the Iodine, Get Rid of the Hypothyroidism?

By September 11, 2003

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One Japanese study looked at the frequency of iodine-induced reversiblehypothyroidism. This type of hypothyroidism is not rare, and particularly in Japan, where iodine-rich seaweed is freqeuently eaten. In looking at 33 different people with hypothyroidism (25 women, 8 men) ranging in age from 21 to 77, stopped taking any iodine-containing drugs and foods (i.e., seaweed products) for a total of up to 2 months. Their median TSH level, initially 21.9 was reduced to a median of 5.3 mU/L after restricting iodine. 21of the patients had a reduction in TSH of more than 50%, 11 became euthyroid, with TSH levels within the normal range of 0.3-3.9 mU/L.

In the case of these patients more than half of the patients recovered from primary hypothyroidism after restricting iodine intake.

In Japan, the intake of iodine can range from a low of 0.1 mg/day to levels as high as 20 mg/day. (By way of comparison, a typical multivitamin in the U.S. may have from 75 mcg [0.000075 grams]. Most table salt in the U.S., however, is iodized, meaning that it has iodine added.)

The younger generation in Japan typically eats low-iodine westernized food, while the middle-aged and older generation frequently eat iodine-rich seaweed.

Should you restrict iodine? Should you supplement iodine? Iodine continues to be a controversial topic for thyroid patients. Read more about iodine now.

Source: Kasagi, Kanji, et. al., " Effect of Iodine Restriction on Thyroid Function in Patients With Primary Hypothyroidism," Thyroid, 09/04/2003
November 12, 2007 at 9:03 pm
(1) joe says:

Great to see that you are spreading the word about testing for iodine. Itís a great easy test to use. When I do it with my patients, I let them know about a little twist that really helps out.

On the subject of people being iodine deficient, there is a lot of controversy. Some say that it has to be impossible for Americans to be deficient with all the iodine added to table salt. Case closed, right? What are not taken into account (besides the fact that there are some that are not getting enough iodine) are the other additives we eat/drink. Fluoride, chloride and bromide are all in our drinking water (and a bunch of other stuff) so that we are getting large doses of these other elements. They have a similar structure to iodine, so they can bind to things that iodine can bind to (important when looking at thyroid hormone production and conversion to T3). Since these have a higher molecular weight, they bully out the iodine from binding to the hormone. Now the hormone is bound to this other stuff and is rendered useless. So, you can have sufficient iodine intake but still be clinically deficient because of toxicity.
While supplementing iodine, you need to make sure that you perform a PROPER detox program and elimination diet. That’s when you see your results (in more areas than this as well, detox will help rid of heavy metals, estrogens, etc.)

March 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm
(2) Lon says:

Joe, have you ever taken chemistry courses in school? I will personally recommend you for any science award there is, if you can explain how come bromine chlorine an despecially fluorine can have “higher molecular” weights than iodine.

January 17, 2008 at 11:55 pm
(3) chris says:

I’m a bit confused. The more iodine a person has, the more their BP should go up, helping them with their HYPOthyroidism (chronic low BP). If you have high BP you have HYPERthyrodism and should steer clear of iodine.

I may be missing something here so please explain.

July 10, 2008 at 11:00 pm
(4) richardgg.nz says:

Hi Yes you are the wrong way round too high is hyper too low is hypo, confusing report!

July 14, 2008 at 10:31 am
(5) ruchi says:

Hi, around 4 months back,my TSH was 5.52,i didn’t take any medicines and simply ignored that.Again I had checkup day before yesterday, Thyroxine level has decreased to 1.10 and TSH level has surprisingly increased to 249.I am worried,how it can increase to this much high value in this time span.How much time will it take to come to normal,if i take medicines?

December 17, 2008 at 5:58 pm
(6) James says:

To add my two cents:
Too little or too much iodine can induce hypothyroidism. We need iodine and an amino acid called tyrosine to create thyroid hormones (T3 & T4. In the thyroid these are created and then released when a hormone from the pituitary (TSH) signals. While some forms of hypothyroidism may arise from too little of this mineral, other forms may be caused by an autoimmune condition where antibodies block TSH receptors in the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). Still another cause of hypothyroidism is dosing with very high amounts of iodine. Large amounts will shut down the thyroid and is a strategy often applied in the allopathic world in addressing forms of hyperthyroidism like Grave’s Disease. Grave’s disease, like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition but in this case the antibodies stimulate the receptors in the thyroid gland continually releasing thyroid hormones.
Believe it or not, in the US diet we are increasing our intake of a material that is guaranteed to supress thyroid function and cause some longterm problems: Soy protein!

March 5, 2009 at 8:28 am
(7) Debbie says:

Yes, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease/overactive thyroid in my mid 20′s at the time I was fortunate to find a bright young doctor that was willing to experiment with me since the specialist had sent me for radioactive iodine which I refused on the spot. Within 3 months and medication to help regulate the thyroid and no more fish it decreased, it continued to decrease and within a year I was off medicines. I am now in my late 40′s and haven’t eaten fish since (we did experiments of eat fish from the ocean, blood test elevated, eat fish from the river lower iodine blood test elevated). I then had a stressful event in my life in my late 20′s and recognized my early signals I went in and was put on medication for the thyroid that had elevated from the stress and within 6 mths it was back to normal.
I am so happy I have my thyroid today and feel great with no medicines and healthy! Destroying organs so quickly and easily needs to be evaluated more carefully in my opinion and going thru the symptoms wasn’t pleasant however it was well worth it! Today I avoid fish and have a blood check once a year, so far I am fine and feel I get plenty of iodine from food other than fish, although I love fish!

September 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm
(8) George says:

I self diognosed myself as:” hytpothyroid”and took the formula:Iodine Plus-2 .
During the time [the last few months] I developed leaky blood vessels in my eye pupil causing a blind spot in my eyesight .
I stopped taking the suppliment .

October 27, 2010 at 11:08 am
(9) Sally says:

I know that seaweed contains iodine, but how much?? I was told I needed to up my iodine and so I bought a kelp supplement. This seems to upset my stomach, so I then bought my roasted seaweed (Nori) and love it (Sea Gift is the brand). I don’t want to get too MUCH iodine but the package does not say how much iodine it contains. Help please.

January 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm
(10) Ed says:

Hi Sally
Dr. Mercola suggests you can take upto 5 grams of seaweed per day to up your thyroid hormone safely, which is what I am doing to fight the winter blue and it works very well so far. Seaweed naturally contains ~33% of Iodine and it’s an organic inexpensive iodine supplement. You are very likely to overdose yourself by eating too much seaweed. Good luck.


February 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm
(11) Diane says:

Do you mean, “You are NOT very likely to overdose yourself by eating too much seaweed”??

February 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm
(12) Gwen Halvorsen says:

In November I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and put on 25mcg of levothyroxine. Since, it has been increased twice, and am presently taking 75mcg/day. I have PVCs, and a slight prolapsed mitral valve, and a heart murmur(murmur since birth). How dangerous is it to be taking this medication? I’d rather take a natural approach and suggested “Armour thyroid” to my doctor and she refused. I even said something about iodine and she said Americans aren’t deficient because of the salt and foods we eat. I need some direction. I keep gaining weight and am soooo frustrated by this that I get depressed. Please help!

February 22, 2011 at 11:05 pm
(13) Diane says:

I would love to send you a link to a very informative website I’ve been reading, but I learned a few days ago that about.com doesn’t allow links to sites that are selling anything. I kind of got in trouble for referring people to the site because the author is selling a book version of the information available at her site.

However, if you keep looking for information online, you’ll soon read all the kinds of stuff I’ve read, and maybe more and better! Just search things like “natural treatment for hypothyroid” and “armour thyroid,” and by reading a lot and balancing your sources, you’ll soon have some good ideas for a path to pursue.

For your doctor to refuse you a safe and effective medication doesn’t seem right, ESPECIALLY since your current medication doesn’t seem to be working. She should at least give you some really good reasons for not wanting to, that agree with what you find out by your own research. Doctors are strangely prejudiced against Armour, and that doesn’t make sense to me because it was used safely and effectively for many more years than the current synthetic meds. Also, read all you can about hypothroidism and you may find that your depression is simply another symptom of it, not just the result of gaining weight.

February 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm
(14) Diane says:

(My comment was too long, so…here’s the rest of it…)

As for iodine, I’m here because I’m researching the same thing. I’ve become convinced that I don’t get enough. Salt seems rarely iodized any more (I noticed that MANY years ago and wondered why not), and if you don’t eat processed food with iodized salt, or sea vegetables, or fish, well…where’s the iodine? As I said, I’m just getting started learning, so I’m not giving you any really good information; however, I’ve already started taking a natural iodine supplement (it has kelp and other stuff in it, so it’s more of a whole food supplement rather than straight iodine)…and I really think it’s helping me already. I have a relatively minor hypothyroid problem….seemingly perhaps as a result of other stress and imbalances in my body. My most bothersome symptoms are difficulty losing weight, “foggy brain” and lack of focus, poor memory, some fatigue, and painful soles of my feet (which I would never have connected to hypo if I hadn’t found a list of symptoms at that site). There are SO many possible symptoms…so get educated!

July 6, 2011 at 11:34 pm
(15) lauire says:

higher the tsh hypo , lower tsh hyper.. look it up

February 21, 2012 at 11:00 am
(16) Bryan says:

This article and several of the comments point to TSH as the measurement of thyroid function. It really isn’t. TSH can rise with the administration of iodine while thyroid function can actually improve (move from hypo to normal). TSH not only stimulates the thyhroid to produce more hormone, but it is also need to stimulate the sodium-iodine symport system. The pituitary secretes more TSH to move iodine into the thyroid, and that is the reason why it elevates in people who supplement/eat higher quantities of iodine. To know the function of the thyroid we have to know the level of the thyroid hormones and not just the TSH.

May 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm
(17) ploperson says:

The Japanese also consume a large amount of naturally occurring salt in their seafood and seaweed. Salt works with Iodine, that’s why they’re often found together in nature.

The Japanese who eat the traditional diet are much healthier than americans. Low rates of obesity, lung cancer despite high rates of smoking, low heart disease et cetera.

The Japanese rule, I’m calling this disinformation. Probably disseminated from some high up source with interests in keeping people unhealthy, in the dark and dependent on Medicine.


May 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm
(18) ploperson says:

The Japanese eat plenty of soy. The Iodine in seafood/weeds makes up for whatever it displaces.

The american food supply used to contain a lot more iodine than it does now. It was removed from bread and replaced with bromine in the 60′s and further removed in the 80′s…

You can trace the obesity epidemic back to around the same times we removed the iodine.

June 8, 2013 at 1:43 am
(19) dalia says:

Hi Debbie;
If possible can u give me the name of that Doctor I have hypothyroidism and abnormal excess levels of iodine in plasma

June 9, 2013 at 12:28 am
(20) NNektar says:

Dalia, did you by any chance get the name/contact info for Debbie’s doctor? If so would you pls share?

June 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm
(21) Mike says:

Diana #13 & 14 I have the same symptoms. It’s been a couple of years since you posted on iodine. Has your health improved? Did you use iodine plus 2? Has a different doctor confirmed anything?

June 26, 2013 at 4:10 am
(22) tonya says:

I just wanted to say I have HypoT, and I have always had a normal BP. I saw someone post something above saying Hypo meant low BP. I have been fighting this for 4 years now, I am still gaining weight, I am on T3 and T4 meds…. So I am now considering adding iodine.

September 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm
(23) victoria says:

Please, people, do not take too much iodine or iodide. I was stupid and ruined my health. I was taking 225 mcg per day for about a month. I felt great at first. Really great. Then suddenly started to feel terrible. Headaches and numb feet and hands. I now have irreversible nerve damage also affecting my kidneys. I got checked out at doctor’s office. He said because of too much iodine the pituitary shuts down the thyroid to protect the body and now I am hypothyroid. It can be treated, but the nerve damage is permanent. Please be careful. Be aware of Geritol and other vitamin formulas. They have iodine, too.

January 14, 2014 at 9:31 am
(24) Eddie says:

My TSH Levels were 0.92 mIU/L on my last blood test. They have been dropping for the last several years. Does anyone with experience in similar siituations know what I can do to bring it up to a higher level? My doctor says that when it drops it is closer to hyperthyroidism, but I had 90 percent of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. My body tempurature is low, I have cold extremeties, fatigue, hairloss, etc. Any comments are appreciated.

January 26, 2014 at 2:14 am
(25) Sam says:

High Iodine intake mixed with selenium deficiency causes thyroid disfunction. There is a good chance that was the main problem with the group studied. You can find some rat studies where they induced hypothyroidism (the thyroid cells increased in size) by high intake of iodine and it was then resolved by selenium supplementation. Selenium is in the Enzyme that changes t4 into t3.

March 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm
(26) David Walpole says:

I’ve researched selenium for 14 yrs. It is now published in the Lancet 31/3/12, by M Rayman that the healthy range to be in for cancer prevention and the many other health benefits, is, 1.6-2.0 mcrmol/lt. [in plasma from a blood test]. Two Brazil nuts a day will achieve this in 6 weeks. Selenium and Iodine work together. Dr.David Brownstein’s book on iodine suggests much higher iodine intakes, supervised by a Dr. can bring about major benefits in thyroid problems. It does take several readthroughs to understand it, but he’s done his homework! David Walpole NZ.

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