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Iodine Deficiency

I.O.U iodine

It was once thought that iodine’s only use was for correct thyroid function. More recently we’ve discovered the amazing health benefits of sufficient iodine intake for the whole body. Each and every one of our cells require iodine to function optimally.

Unfortunately, the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) does not reflect these modern findings. Since the 1920s, the RDA for iodine has remained at 150mcg. This figure was established by The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1924 to prevent Goitre — the enlargement of the thyroid gland — which it was successful in doing.

Compared to 90 years ago:

We know a lot more about this mineral and how the body utilises it.

We are now exposed to numerous environmental toxins: Halides1 and other Goitrogens2 that interfere with the binding of iodine in the body.

Our soil, and our animal products (eggs, dairy, meat) lack iodine. (Unless the farmer specifically adds this mineral to his land or to the animal’s feed.)

There are declining levels of iodine in dairy milk (iodine-based sanitisers are being replaced with chlorine-based sanitisers).

Note: Chlorine is a halide which actually displaces iodine in our bodies.

Bakers no longer use iodine to condition their dough for our bread — they use bromine. (They also add iodised salt.)

Note: Bromine is a halide which actually displaces iodine in our bodies.

And, while well-intended, iodised salt (which is primarily a refined, devitalised product) is not good for our health in other ways. Therefore many of us have either reduced or eliminated it from our diets.

unless we’re eating seafood everyday (seaweed, shell-fish, and fish) exactly where are we getting our iodine from?
(Listen up all you Vegetarians, Vegans, and Seafood Dislikers!)

The upshot of all this is that we are literally being starved of this mineral. Our poor bodies are having to scrimp and save because they are trying to operate everything on an unreasonably low iodine budget. Not only are we running on a ‘go-slow’, but we may also be putting ourselves at risk of acquiring hormone-sensitive cancers (thyroid, breast, ovarian, endometrial, and prostate).

The current RDA of 150mcg of iodine is woefully inadequate for the needs of our whole body. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people around the world.

This problem is an epidemic.

We need at least 12mg of iodine daily.

Taken with a gram of salt.

Iodine is added to Table Salt to prevent Goitre.  This mineral isn’t added to salt because of the natural correlation between the sea + salt + iodine. It’s because salt is a commodity, and it doesn’t spoil, thus making it an easy way to distribute iodine to the people.

The amount of iodine per gram of iodised salt is 70mcg. And, it is expected that most people would consume at least 2.5 grams of this substance daily. (That’s half a tsp). This would give them around 185mcg of iodine daily.

Note: Sea-salt or rock-salt has little (if any) iodine.

The irony is that the very substance that iodine is added to is not well absorbed by us. It is believed that we only absorb about 10% or 18.5 mcg of iodine from this recommended intake of salt.

Iodine supplementation to the rescue!

We now know that the Thyroid gland no longer has ‘dibs’ on Iodine.  The whole body ‘wants a piece’ of this mineral.

Note: it is estimated that this gland requires a constant daily supply of 6mg of iodine to function optimally.

Iodine therapy is being used by some health professionals to both prevent + treat (and aid in treating) all manner of health conditions:

  1. Thyroid Disorders

    It is used to help treat Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s + Graves’ disease.

    Note: A poorly functioning thyroid gland reduces your cellular metabolism, and predisposes you to a poorly functioning immune system.

    See my recent blog-post on Thyroflex. It’s an accurate way to test your thyroid function.

  2. Chronic Fatigue

    Iodine increases cellular metabolism.

  3. Fibromyalgia, general muscle aches + sore joints

    Fibromyalgia is a condition characterised by musculoskeletal pain, with stiffness and localized tenderness at specific points on the body.

  4. Headaches + Migraines

    It’s unclear how this works specifically. It could be because it increases cellular metabolism, or it could be because it promotes improved detoxification.

  5. Infections

    Iodine can be used to prevent + fight infection as it is antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic.

  6. Detoxification

    Iodine protects us against toxins, heavy metals (lead + mercury), chemicals, and halides.

  7. Cancer

    This mineral can be used to help prevent hormone-sensitive cancers: Thyroid, Breast, Ovarian, Endometrial + Prostate.

You cannot expect to have healthy hormone production or immune system function without sufficient levels of iodine in your body.

You cannot hope to maintain a healthy weight or to improve your memory, mood + energy without this miraculous mineral.

Two copies of Dr Brownstein's wonderful book on iodine deficiency sits on a table
This blog-post was based on this book — it has truly inspired me! Thank you for your wonderful knowledge Dr Brownstein.

Booby Traps for iodine

Women’s breasts require a large amount of iodine to maintain their delicate infrastructure. They are one of the main storage and utilisation sites for iodine. It is estimated that they alone (as a pair!) require 5mg of iodine daily to maintain their health.

In his book,  Iodine — Why you need it. Why you can’t live without it,
David Brownstein, MD, says:

“Studies have shown that iodine deficiency can alter the structure and function of breast tissue.
This can include dysplasia and atypia that is the forerunner for breast cancer.”

He believes this for a number of different reasons:
— Iodine modulates the effect of oestrogen on breast tissue3
— Iodine decreases lipoperoxidation of breast tissue4
— Iodine induces apoptosis (programmed death) in breast tissue (and thyroid) cancer cells.
— Iodine is a potent antioxidant — making it a strong anti-cancer agent.

Not only is Dr Brownstein concerned that we’re not consuming enough iodine on a daily basis, but he is also concerned that toxic halides we consume/absorb from our environment will inhibit any iodine uptake by the tissues of our body.

In an iodine deficient state (like the Thyroid Gland), breast tissue increases in size (Hyperplasia) in order to attract more iodine. Dr Brownstein believes this also predisposes us to breast cancer.

Young girls dance in a purple flowery haze to represent the health benefits of iodine


Iodine is the Greek word for: violet or purple
(due to the color of elemental iodine vapor)

In my practice I now encourage all of my female clients to consider their iodine status — for the health of all their ‘girl bits’.  We need to be sensible about our health. Let’s not just sit around (with pink ribbons in our hair) waiting for something bad to happen to us, or waiting for someone else to devise a wonder-drug that could cure us if the worst were to eventuate.

Iodine can help to improve womans health in the following areas:

  1. Breast Health

    This includes Fibrocystic Breast Disease (FBD), breast cysts + lumps and cyclic Mastalgia. Iodine may also help to prevent breast cancer.

    Caution: If you have already been diagnosed with cancer it is important that you form a multidisciplinary team of health professionals around you. This team should include: a GP, an Oncologist (cancer specialist), a Surgeon, a Psychologist, and a (qualified, experienced, and registered) Natural Health Practitioner (who specialises in treating Cancer).

  2. Natural Fertility

    Sufficient iodine supplementation helps to improve conception chances, and reduce the risk of miscarriage  + premature births.

    Sufficient iodine during pregnancy reduces the risk of  mental retardation, attention deficit disorder and other heath issues in children.

  3. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

    This also includes polycystic ovaries (without necessarily having the associated syndrome), ovarian cysts, ovarian disease. Iodine may also help to prevent ovarian cancer.

    Note: The ovaries contain the second highest concentration of iodine in the female body – after the Thyroid Gland.

  4. Irregular + Heavy Menses

    Iodine may also protect against endometrial + uterine cancers.

  5. Vaginal Infections

    Thrush or Bacterial Vagonosis (BV).

  6. Low sex drive

    You won’t feel like getting all ‘hot + steamy’ with someone if you’re not running on full steam yourself.

Are you eating enough iodine on a daily basis?
Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms?

Score yourself in the following questionnaire:

A graph indicating the various health conditions that represent an iodine deficiency


Win one of three ‘Dr Brownstein’ books: IODINE — WHY YOU NEED IT. WHY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT

Comment below with:
Me too, Lisa! I want to be a Violet Femme with you!

Competition drawn: Monday 7 December 2015.
Winners will be announced on this blog + my OOMPH Facebook page.
(Make sure you’ve LIKED my Facebook page.)

Lisa says:

There is a lot of unnecessary fear associated with the use of iodine supplementation.

In NZ you can only ‘get hold’ of therapeutic levels of iodine supplementation via prescription. Only low dose iodine supplementation is available in a health store.
(250mcg per dose).

The reason for this caution is:
1— If you’re not careful or if you’re inexperienced in the use of supplemental iodine, you could exacerbate a current health condition, or you could induce a detoxification reaction (headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and heart palpitations).

2— Some health professionals believe that large amounts of iodine cause medical conditions like Hashimoto’s + Graves disease. However, this is in stark contradication to our current situation — we have rising incidences of these diseases, but we’ve got falling iodine levels… Also, there is confusion between the different types of iodine and the applications thereof. We’ve been discussing dietary supplementation with ‘benign’ iodine (inorganic, and non-radioactive). However, the only use conventional medicine has for ‘iodine’ is either as a diagnostic tool (in radiological exams) or as a therapeutic agent to destroy the thyroid (via radioactive iodine).

Therefore it’s important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Naturopath to firstly establish an iodine insufficiency through a gold-standard testing procedure (iodine-loading test).

Note: 96% of the population test poorly for iodine sufficiency.

Following this, your Naturopath will source the correct form, high dose iodine supplement for you, and work closely with you to establish a level of this mineral that is sufficient for you. This way, any adverse effects can easily be rectified.

Note: Iodine therapy is never used in isolation. Depending upon your symptoms it will be necessary to provide you with a comprehensive treatment program to facilitate your health or healing.


If you didn’t score 6 or above in the iodine intake section or if you scored 8 or more in the iodine deficiency symptoms section you could benefit from coming to see me to assess your iodine levels. I can also work to replenish you in this vital nutrient.

Click this link to make an online booking with me at OOMPH!

In consultation with a Naturopath, Iodine can be administered safely for long periods of time in daily amounts well above the RDA.

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

Book online