Iodine: Are You Deficient in this Important Nutrient?

Iodine: Are You Deficient in this Important Nutrient?

Iodine’s role in so many areas of health makes its widespread deficiency particularly concerning. Iodine deficiency has been linked to many of the following health concerns:

• Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and simple goiter. The thyroid gland absorbs iodine from the blood and incorporates it into the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. This mineral is therefore essential to optimal functioning of the thyroid gland and for thyroid hormone production.

• Iodine deficiency may be a hidden cause of heart trouble. Thyroid disorders caused by iodine deficiency decrease myocardial contractility, increase peripheral vascular resistance and are associated with disturbances in lipid metabolism.1

• Iodine deficiency can have disastrous consequences on more than just thyroid health. Besides the thyroid, iodine concentrates in tissues of the breast, ovaries, uterus, prostate, eyes, gastric mucosa, cervix and salivary glands.

• Iodine deficiency in women predisposes them to breast cancer.2 Studies have found that iodine-deficient breasts develop tumors as well as pathological changes in RNA/DNA ratios and estrogen receptor proteins.3-4

• In a study of women with fibrocystic breast disease, when a combination of iodine and iodide was given to these patients, symptoms resolved or were reduced in most of the patients.5-6

• Anti-thyroid antibodies and goiter prevalence are significantly higher in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients, suggesting iodine deficiency may play a role in this condition.7

• Like the breasts, the prostate gland stores iodine, and this mineral is critical for prostate health. When scientists transplanted cancerous cell lines into mice, iodine supplementation in the mice reduced growth of the prostate cancer cells.8

• Researchers have found a greater incidence of severe iodine deficiency (49%) in stomach cancer patients compared to the control group (19.1%).9 There is a strong relationship between stomach cancer and iodine deficiency to iodines’s presence in the gastric mucosa and its ability to act as an antioxidant.

• Iodine deficiency is linked to cognitive impairment and brain fog. Studies have noted psychological disorders in adults suffering from iodine deficiency.10 Medical literature published in April 2013 found that IQ scores were 6.9 to 10.2 points lower in iodine-deficient children compared with iodine sufficient children.11 Additionally, iodine deficiency has been linked to autism.

Causes of Iodine Deficiency:

Even though the amount of iodine used in salt is enough to prevent goiter, the miniscule amount of iodine found in it falls far short of the amount necessary for promoting optimal thyroid function. Furthermore, refined salt fails to provide enough iodine for the rest of the body’s needs. In fact, research shows that just 10 percent of iodine in salt is bioavailable, that is, completely absorbed by your body.14-15 Other causes of iodine deficiency include:

• Hypertensive patients usually cut back on salt
• Many people consume sea salt, which often has no iodine added
• Amount of iodine in soil is low and varies significantly by region12
• Substances we are exposed to daily, such as goitrogens, compete with iodine for absorption in the body
• Iodine is a halide and other members of the halide family – bromide, chlorine, and fluoride-compete with iodine for absorption. Bromide replaced iodine as a dough conditioner in many bread products. Diets high in refined bakery products, such as breads, pastas, and cereals, can cause or worsen an iodine deficiency problem since bromine interferes with iodine utilization in the thyroid as well as wherever iodine concentrates in the body.13
• Perchlorate, another common environmental toxin, interferes with the thyroid’s ability to use iodine.


Iodine deficiency is a common but often undetected problem. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have adequate iodine levels in your body. Testing for iodine deficiency can help determine supplemental needs for inorganic iodine/iodide. Additionally, it is important that any nutrient be supplemented in a balanced fashion with other critical cofactors. Modern iodine researchers/clinicians using a combination of iodine/iodide have successfully treated thousands of patients in both Grave’s disease and hypothyroidism, especially when iodine is combined with other important nutrients. It is important to work with a healthcare practitioner who is knowledgeable about iodine deficiency.

Call Integrative Medicine of New Jersey at (973) 736-5300 and make an appointment to have your iodine levels tested.

• Molnar I, et al. Orv Hetil. 1998 Aug 30; 139(35):2071-3.
• Many MC, et al. In Progress in Thyroid Research. Gordon A, et al eds. New York, NY. Routledge. 1991:213-5.
• Smyth PP. J Endocrinol Invest. 1993;16:396-401.
• Eskin BA. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1977;91:293-304.
• No authors listed. Iodine Monograph. Alt Med Review. 2010;15(3):273-8.
• Ghent WR, et al. Can J Surg. 1993;36;453-60.
• Kachuei M, et al. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012 Mar;285(3):853-6.
• Aranda N, et al. Prostate. 2013 Jan;73(1):31-41.
• Behrouzian R and Aghdami N. East Mediterr Health J. 2004 Nov;10(6):921-4.
• Mansourian AR, et al. Pak J Biol Sci. 2011 Apr 1;14(7):412-24.
• Bougma K, et al. Nutrients. 2013 Apr 22;5(4):1384-416.
• Hetzel BS and Clugston GA. In Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th edition. Shils M, et al. eds. Baltimore, MD. Williams & Wilkins. 1999;253-64.
• Vobecky, M. Effect of enhanced bromide intake on the concentration ratio I/Br in the rat thyroid gland. Bio. Trace Element Research, 43:509-513, 1994.
• Pitman, JA. Changing normal values for thyroidal radioiodine uptake. NEJM. 1969;280:1431-34
• Abraham, G. The Concept of Orthoiodosupplementation and its Clinical Implications. The Original Internist. June, 2004.