March 20, 2014

Iodine Deficiency Information: Part 2



Hug for Fran

Previous Articles:

Iodine Deficiency: My Story

Iodine Deficiency Information: Part 1

DISCLAIMER: This article represents information I gleaned from the Internet articles (some well-referenced) on iodine deficiency in adults. It is not and should not take the place of medical advice. I encourage you to talk with your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, and/or use of iodine and what may be best for your overall health.

This is the second part of an article disclosing the research results of my Internet research on iodine deficiency in older adults.



Thyroid hormone levels are determined by a blood test. NOTE: Hypothyroidism can occur even without abnormalities in measured thyroid hormone levels.

The body eliminates 90% of its daily ingestion of in the urine. Therefore, the urinary level of iodine is a good indication of the amount of iodine in the body****

For individuals the most common medical test for diagnosing iodine deficiency is a 24-hour urine collection. Median urinary iodine concentrations of 100–199 mcg/L in children and adults indicate adequate iodine intake. Values lower than 100 mcg/L in children and non-pregnant adults indicate insufficient iodine intake. Iodine deficiency is not classified as severe until urinary iodine levels are lower than 20 mcg/L^^

The best way to determine iodine deficiency across a large population is to measure the amounts of iodine in urine samples. **


To check whether you have enough iodine on board, you can try this safe self-test at home. Simply dip a clean ball of cotton in inexpensive red-tinged USP tincture of iodine from any drugstore. Paint a 2-inch circle of tincture of iodine on soft skin tissue, such as the inner arm or thigh.

Now wait – if the yellow-orange stain takes more than 6 hours to disappear, you are likely to be replete with iodine. If the stain is absorbed quickly (within 1–3 hours), your body may need a higher iodine intake.^^^

The next step is to ask your healthcare provider for the more accurate, 24-hour iodine/iodide loading test.


There are several ways iodine deficiency can be treated:

  • It can be treated with topical applications of iodine, because there is no known toxicity when it is absorbed through the skin into the blood. No person anywhere understands why, but it is a verifiable fact that low to moderate amounts of iodine are harmless when absorbed transdermally.^^^^
  • Iodine and iodine-rich foods are, historically, natural therapies. The federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “nutrients should come primarily from foods. Foods in nutrient-dense, mostly intact forms contain…the essential vitamins and minerals that are often contained in nutrient supplements…^^
  • Iodized salt is the mainstay of treatment** Since the 1920s iodized salt has been the most effective public health initiative in reducing iodine deficiency. However, care should be taking with treating iodine deficiency with iodized salt—severe deficiency treated with a high intake of iodized salt may result in hyperthyroidism.
  • Multivitamins/mineral supplements that contain iodine in the forms of potassium iodide or sodium iodide …may be advantageous in specific situations to increase intake of a specific vitamin or mineral.”^^
  • Injections of iodized oil are occasionally used in regions of the world where widespread iodized salt use is not possible**
  • Iodination of water supplies also has been effective in some places.**


First, note that the body does not make iodine.

Iodine is present naturally in some soils and seawater.** The availability of iodine in foods differs in various regions of the world** because they live far inland from iodine-rich sea food.

Soil contains varying amounts of iodine, which affects the iodine content of crops. In some regions of the world, iodine-deficient soils are common, increasing the risk of iodine deficiency among people who consume foods primarily from those areas… Fruits and vegetables contain iodine, but the amount varies depending on the iodine content of the soil, fertilizer use and irrigation practices ^^

Dairy products, especially milk, and grain products, are the major contributors of iodine to the American diet, partly due to the use of iodine feed supplements and iodophor sanitizing agents in the dairy industry. Iodine is also present in human breast milk and infant formulas.


Iodized table salt**
Seaweed (eg. kelp, nori, kombu, dulce, and wakame (highly variable in its iodine,content
Seafood—saltwater fish, shellfish
Dairy products cheese (mozzarella), cow’s milk, yogurt
Ice cream
Soy milk
Soy sauce
Grain products
Some breads


Iodine is a toxic oxidizing agent which can damage the skin when applied externally. Short contact may merely irritate and inflame the skin Prolonged exposure can cause extensive tissue damage, including skin lesions.

When the level of iodide rises above the normal range it causes symptoms resembling those of iodine deficiency. For example, goiter (which is formed when the thyroid gland is inflamed) can be caused by excess iodide as well as iodine deficiency.****

Iodine toxicity can result from taking too much of the trace mineral. Elemental iodine is a poison which can be lethal in large amounts (2 – 3 grams can kill an adult). High levels of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as iodine deficiency, including goiter thyroid gland inflammation thyroid cancer, burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach; fever; stomach pain; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; weak pulse; and coma (with very high doses).*

Overdoing iodine intake can be a result of radiology procedures (iodinated intravenous dye). Nuclear accidents, releasing radioactive iodine into the environment, increases the risk of thyroid cancer in exposed individuals.

An excess of iodine ingested from the seaweeds (esp. dulce and kelp) can cause or worsen hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.** Taking too much iodine can also cause problems, especially in individuals who have existing thyroid problems, such as nodules, hyperthyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease.**

Supplements can potentially interact with several types of medications. Individuals taking these medications on a regular basis should discuss their iodine intakes with their health care providers.

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as benazepril (Lotensin®), lisinopril (Prinivil® and Zestril®), and fosinopril (Monopril®), that are taken with potassium iodide, can increase the risk of hyperkalemia (elevated blood levels of potassium) and could raise the amount of potassium in your blood to an unsafe level.
  • Combining potassium iodide with potassium-sparing diuretics, such as spironolactone (Aldactone®) and amiloride (Midamor®), can increase the risk of hyperkalemia [59].^^
  • Iodine supplements might interact with anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole (Tapazole®), used to treat hyperthyroidism. Taking high doses of iodine with anti-thyroid medications could cause your body to produce too little thyroid hormone.*

Another way iodine can be harmful is by iodine sensitivity, which is rare. However, even very small amounts can cause sensitivity reactions in some people—hives, rash and anaphylactic shock in affected individuals****.


If you suspect you could be suffering from iodine deficiency consult with your doctor. However, make the appoint armed with as much knowledge as you are able to glean. Be prepared. If you suspect you are iodine deficient, check out and evaluate the reverences listed below and make your own judgments.

Hopefully this two-part article is helpful.



Iodine Deficiency: My Story











1 Comment »

  1. I find it interesting that it can go both ways. In that, i mean, that it can help and harm you if you get too little or too much. Who knows where a safe level is without a doctor’s supervision?

    Comment by David Walker — March 20, 2014 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

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