March 16, 2014

Iodine Deficiency: My Story



Hug for Fran



How do I begin telling my story? I have numerous choices:

  • Everything that is healthy for you is bad for you
  • I can’t share my symptoms with my family, friends, or doctors.
  • A simple test clarified my physical and mental symptoms.
  • I’m one of the estimated 40% of Americans experiencing this.
  • My three-day miracle.

Whenever someone tells me they don’t know how begin telling their story I tell them to “just start.” So I guess that’s what I’ll do.


The annual stress of the year-end triple holiday can be exhausting, even depressing.

During December 2013, however, the feelings I experienced were intensified. How I celebrated my 70th birthday didn’t matter. Preparing for Christmas was a true chore. I wanted to escape, go to the New England coast with my husband Monte, and experience Christmas on the beach. I didn’t care—about anything.

I excused the feelings. It’s just the stress of the season. Depression isn’t uncommon.

There was a settled layer of pea soup fog between my conscious and subconscious mind.

I excused it. It must be a result of my almost debilitating cataract which makes reading challenging.

I was overwhelmed with diminished cognition skills. If you told me something, I couldn’t recall it several seconds later. I had to struggle with writing and other tasks. It was a weird feeling.

Perhaps it’s the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s.


I didn’t tell anyone about what I was experiencing. I didn’t want to be told the obvious: I was depressed. For some instinctive reason I knew it wasn’t depression. It just didn’t seem to fit. I also didn’t want to hear that I was just experiencing the effects of aging, something I couldn’t dismiss, something very frightening.

After the holidays I shared my concerns with a friend I trusted, telling her how I felt, not expecting her to do anything but knowing she would at least listen and hear me.

“Try something,” she said.

What she instructed me to do sounded like an old wives tale, something taken from mythical and ancient medical remedies. But I trusted her. As long as I’ve known her, her information has been reliable and well-researched.

“Purchase a bottle of tincture of iodine,” she said. “Swab a quarter-sized spot on your wrist. If the color fades in a few hours, it means you are iodine deficient.”

Simple enough, harmless enough. I purchased the iodine and followed her instructions

The iodine spot disappeared within a half day.

“Wow,” I thought.

I was unable to get to the store to get iodized salt or vitamins with iodine in them so I decided that if the iodine from the experiment was absorbed by my skin, maybe I’d try swabbing a patch on my arm daily for several days (I didn’t want to overdo it, not knowing what would happen).


Three days.

Yes, three days. That was all it took.

On the fourth day the cloud in my head was gone. I was me again. I could remember things for more than three seconds. I could function.

Monte and I went to a meeting. As we approached the building he asked me to remind him to get gas en route home.

“Don’t rely on me to remind you. I won’t remember,” I said.

As we left the meeting, I turned to him and said, “Don’t forget to get gas.”

Every time I called my friend I had to look up her phone number. One day I had to call her twice. I dialed her number each time without a hitch.

I now knew what was causing my symptoms: I was iodine deficient.


I looked back over the months. While traveling in New England in September 2013 I experienced a haze over my cognition and concentration. As well as a sense of not caring about much. Throughout the fall this intensified until it peaked in December.

As time passed I noticed two other significant physical changes.

  • at the end of January in this exceptionally cold (Category 5) winter my electric blanket remained on the closet shelf—during the past few less frigid winters I lived under electric blankets and often still felt cold
  • when I showered the drain filter was no longer filled with clumps of hair

I researched iodine deficiency on the Internet (watch for my two-part post summarizing this research). I learned there were four things that contributed to my iodine deficiency, four things that deplete the body of iodine, four things that are recommended for good health:

  • Cutting/minimizing (iodized) salt in the diet (restaurant and processed foods usually don’t use iodized salt)
  • Eating food in the broccoli family (love it…)
  • Sweating—ergo, exercising (not TOO big a problem for me)
  • Taking statin drugs (not listed as a side effect in my prescription information)

I haven’t used salt for years—after all, I ingest plenty of it  when prepared and restaurant food. I eat lots of broccoli, touted for its cancer prevention properties. I exercise—well, as much as I can discipline myself to. And I’ve taken a statin drug since 2005.

My research also lists to cold and hair loss as symptoms.

As I look back I can see a slow progression of iodine deficiency symptoms that developed through the years. I first attributed them to the aging process, then to the vision problem.

Had I told anyone about the symptoms, especially their progression in the months preceding January 1, 2014, they would have said I was experiencing depression or was at the age for the onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s. When I relate the symptoms even now skeptics tell me I’m just experiencing “the aging process.”


After this discovery I did Internet research on iodine deficiency in the adult population.

My research indicates that iodine deficiency might be far more prevalent in the adult population than anyone suspects. My doctor told me it’s rare, yet I keep hearing of others who experienced what I did and discovered iodine reversed their symptoms.

Perhaps it is not as rare as my doctor told me it is. I know how quickly my symptoms disappeared.

Three days. Three days to become human again. From a simple old-wives remedy that is so simple that, if you are experiencing the same symptoms, you can try. It won’t harm you, and it just might help.


During this time I appreciated friends who have a non-judgmental approach, who listen and share their wealth of knowledge and life experience.

NOTE: This is not an advertisement for tincture of iodine, or, as a matter of fact, for anything else. It’s simply my story.

Read an online review of iodine deficiency issues at Iodine Deficiency Information: Part 1 and Iodine Deficiency Information: Part 2

NOTE: This post qualifies for the August 12, 2013, WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge. Fit to Write: what health means, struggle with an illness (health issue), change of perspective…so, better late than never, I’ll link to it.



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  1. Sometimes old wives tales aren’t so false – many of us have relatives who lived to very ripe old ages while doing and eating things that we now consider “dangerous” for our health – we’ve cut so much out yet we replace it with a presecription drug – finding what works for us doesn’t always require a medical degree -feeling good is what matters and often invovles a combination of what the doctor can offer and what we can do for ourselves

    Comment by Fran — March 16, 2014 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  2. Received via e-mail:
    That’s a fantastic story.
    I will try it on my arm. I started to feel similarly a few years ago and started brain training on Lumosity. It helped but I am still going to do the test. I still think I’m foggy. That’s why I have to bring books to Mellow Mike because I can’t remember the songs!

    Diane Cipa
    Ligonier Living

    Comment by carolyncholland — March 16, 2014 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for sharing all this in detail Carolyn. Will make it easy for the rest of us to do a test and make a few changes. Grace Wells

    Comment by Fred Wells — March 16, 2014 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.I will remember
    to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back sometime soon.

    I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice holiday weekend!

    Comment by website — March 17, 2014 @ 6:22 am | Reply

  5. Carolyn, thanks for sharing your experience with the iodine. I’ll give it a try… 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — March 17, 2014 @ 8:09 am | Reply

  6. […] WAS IT IODINE DEFICIENCY? MY STORY   Sometimes old wives tales aren’t so false – many of us have relatives who lived to very ripe old ages while doing and eating things that we now consider “dangerous” for our health – we’ve cut so much out yet we replace it with a prescription drug –  finding what works for us doesn’t always require a medical degree -feeling good is what matters and often invovles a combination of what the doctor can offer and what we can do for ourselves  Fran […]

    Pingback by Out of the Old Blog, a New Magazine is Born | Carolyn's Online Magazine — January 14, 2015 @ 4:38 am | Reply

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