Svent-Gyorgi got the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1937 for the discovery of Vitamin C. He lived much of his later life in Maine, working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He attributed much of his longevity to iodine, taking 1,000 mg a day. Did you get that? 1,000 mg. You are getting 0.250 mg a day if you are an average American eating iodized salt, and taking no extra.
What caught my eye this week was the amount of iodine you get in amiodarone, the number one anti-arrhythmic in the world. A standard 200 mg dose of amiodarone will give you 75 mg a day of iodine. Given its standard metabolism, you will get 6 mg of elemental iodine a day. Whew! But that correlates with my childhood in India, where I took iodine pills all the time for water purification. We didn’t when we lived at home, but with any travel, hiking, going into town or whatever, we had a bottle of iodine tablets that I used liberally to purify water. I would guess that I took at least 2-10 pills of iodine a month.
Now, in America we are all spastic about iodine toxicity because of one really bad research article that has never been refuted. Done in rats, it suggested you get a short-term reduction in thyroid function when you take a large dose of iodine. Projected onto humans, it has led us to believe that too much iodine will suppress our thyroid long term. However, there has been no evidence and no proof of that being the case.
Guy-Abraham at UCLA posited an alternative approach. He measured how much iodine one has to take to excrete 90 % of it in the urine in the following 24 hours: the standard measure of sufficient mineral intake. That comes out to 12.4 mg a day. That’s quite different than 0.25 mg we are getting in America. It is certainly much less than the 1,000 mg Svent-Gyorgy took.
Why do we need so much? This is another whole rabbit hole to go down but I believe we are all bromine overdosed. Bromine, a halide ion just one notch above iodine in the periodic table, acts chemically just like iodine but has never ever been in the human food chain until 50 years ago. But we flippantly add it to all our bread products because it helps make bread more elastic. Even China has banned bromine. But not us. And your carpet and furniture are soaked in it as a fire retardant.
Iodine is pushed off its receptor by bromine. That’s the rub. To reverse bromine toxicity, which our FDA denies, you have to take more iodine. The bread industry is tougher and pays more to politicians than you do, so it doesn’t get studied. (Listen to me! Don’t I sound a little paranoid? Doesn’t make me wrong, just wary.)
But do you need more iodine? Yup! How much? Guy Abraham may have it right. He estimated 12.4 mg a day. I’ve been telling folks at least 12.4 mg twice a month which increases your intake 5-6 fold over what you get now. Svent-Gyorgi lived to age 93 on 500 times that dose. I suspect the range of safety is larger than what we have thought in the past. But I have one client who has taken 12.4 mg a day for 10 years now and it cured her neurological condition. If you have fibrocystic breast disease, that is likely an iodine deficiency syndrome. Breast cancer? Please, please take iodine!
WWW: What will work for me. I believe we are all tip-toeing along the edge of severe iodine deficiency. I have been taking 3-4 pills a month and think I will up my game to at least double that. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years now, and had a childhood similar to that. I don’t eat much bread at all, except when I’m in Europe (where bromine is banned). I think we are also all bromine contaminated, if not poisoned. Ironically, it’s the use of an artificial medication, amiodarone, that woke me back up to the importance of iodine. Bless dear old Svent-Gyorgi.
- Who was Svent-Gyorgi? Answer: Nobel Prize for Vitamin C who took 1 gram a day of iodine: 6,000 times the RDA of our current American guidelines (150 mcg a day).
- How much Iodine are the Japanese taking around Fukushima? Answer: 100 mg a day. (And we haven’t heard of a huge epidemic of thyroid disorders from them.). That is 600 times our current RDA in America.
- Do we need more iodine today than 100 years ago? Answer: Emphatically yes. We have been inundated with bromine in many forms. In America, we have been curiously inattentive to it. Europe and even China have banned bromine from bread. We pour it in. But fire retardants made from bromine are all around you.
- If you have breast cancer, should you be on more iodine? Answer. Probably but if you have fibrocystic breast disease, (the number one risk for breast cancer) – you MUST be on it.
- What can you do to eat more iodine in food? Answer: seaweed. Cod. Shellfish. And that will get you to 200-250 mcg a day. Maybe one 40th of what you need. Eat up. Maybe you just need a pill because of all the bromine in your ecosystem.