Iodine and Health: Facts to Know

Western medicine has been ignoring the strong relationship between iodine and health for decades. Read the facts listed here, and see if you don't agree, that studies should be done to explore these concepts.

The rate of iodine intake in the United States has fallen by about 50% in the past 40 years. In 1971, Americans were consuming about 630 micrograms per day. By 1984, that amount had fallen to about 300 micrograms per day.

Some say the reduction was related to changes in iodine usage in the dairy and baking industries, in response to concerns about too much iodine and health impacts. But these concerns were related to radioactive iodine, a different substance than natural potassium iodine and iodide.

Others believe the reduction was related to the fact that Americans have been relentlessly hounded to reduce salt and egg intake by various health organizations and federal agencies. Both of these food items are high in iodine.

Japanese Health versus American Health

The Japanese consume, on average, about 10 mg of iodine per day, which is one of the highest iodine intake levels in the world.

In contrast, American iodine intake levels are about 100 times LESS than the Japanese. In many parts of the United States, iodine deficiencies are becoming epidemic.

Recent research is beginning to uncover a wide range of health problems associated with iodine deficiencies.

Breast Health: iodine deficiencies have a significant and negative impact on breast health. Japanese women have the lowest incidence of fibrocystic breast disease and the lowest breast cancer mortality in the world. American women get breast cancer at a rate that is 3 times that of Japanese women.

Newborn Health: Sufficient iodine is critical for fetal health. If the mother is deficient in iodine during pregnancy, her newborn is more likely to have growth and learning problems. Out of all industrialized countries, Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate, while the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates.

Longevity: Iodine supports the thyroid, an organ which directs the function of many other hormones which support the health and longevity of the human body. Japanese citizens can expect to live, on average, 83 years at birth. This is the highest life expectancy in the industrialized world. Americans lag behind at a life expectancy of 78 years.

Heart Disease: Iodine has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and improve heart problems such as cardiac arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. Not surprising then, that heart disease mortality rates in the United States are 56% higher than Japan's rates.

Further,in the 1950s, Finland had the highest rate of coronary heart disease mortality in Europe. In 1963, iodized salt was introduced to the Finnish population, and the iodine intake in Finland is now the highest in Europe.

Finland also took the step of adding selenium as a crop fertilizer because their soil selenium levels were very low. Selenium has a supportive interaction with iodine.

The result? In Finland, heart disease mortality rates have declined more than 50% since the 1950s.

The correlation between iodine and health is intriguing, and I hope that more and more research is done to explore the beneficial possibilities.

Iodine and Perchlorate

Our iodine and health problems may also have another factor involved. This is a chemical called percholorate, which interferes with iodine in the body.

An FDA report says that human exposure to sufficient doses of perchlorate can interfere with iodide uptake into the thyroid gland, disrupting its functions and potentially leading to a reduction in the production of thyroid hormones.

Here's an article on this chemical and the FDA study.

Done with Iodine and Health, back to Iodine Deficiency