Notes on Iodine Deficiency

by Ann Marie Michaels on November 25, 2008

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At the WAPF Wise Traditions conference this year, they had a whole series of lectures on iodine deficiency. Contrary to popular belief, iodine deficiency is widespread in America. Iodine deficiency causes all sorts of health problems, including thyroid disease, cancer, and Down’s Syndrome.

Why are so many people iodine deficient? First of all, most of us don’t consume enough iodine. On top of that, we consume many substances that block iodine absorption in our body. There are halogens in our water including fluoride, chlorine, and perchlorate (rocket fuel).

Goitrogens also block iodine uptake. There are some notable goitrogens in our food supply. One of them is bromide which is in most commercial bread, as well as some soft drinks (Mountain Dew for example).

One of the biggest goitrogens in our food supply (and it’s everywhere in our food supply) is soy. Soybean oil is in salad dressing and mayonnaise. It’s in commercial baby formula. It’s in almost all packaged cakes, candies chips, and crackers. And pretty much every meal you eat at a restaurant cooks their food in soybean oil.

Not only that, but most of the cows, poultry and pigs in this country are fed a diet of industrial corn and soybeans. So even if you think you’re not eating lots of soy, you probably are.

I didn’t attend these lectures since I was working, but I will be ordering them on CD. When I listen to them, I will post more about iodine, but in the meantime I want to get you started with some information from the lectures. The following notes were taken by one of my readers (and new friend), Christine Kennedy on two of the iodine lectures — one by Dr. David Brownstein and another by Dr. Janet Lang. (Thanks, Christine, for typing them up!)

Speaker Bios:
David Brownstein, MD, is a Board-Certified family physician who utilizes the best of conventional and alternative therapies. He is the Medical Director for the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Brownstein is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College for the Advancement in Medicine. He is the father of two beautiful girls, Hailey and Jessica, and is a retired soccer coach. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally about his success using natural remedies. Dr. Brownstein has authored eight books: Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 3rd Edition; Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do; The Miracle of Natural Hormones 3rd Edition; Overcoming Thyroid Disorders 2nd Edition; Overcoming Arthritis; Salt Your Way to Health; The Guide To Healthy Eating; and The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet. Visit his website at

Dr. Janet R. Lang, BA, DC, is a 1979 summa cum laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. She began studying Dr. Royal Lee’s whole food nutrition philosophy while a student at Palmer and has used Standard Process nutrition extensively in her practices. She is the author of Understanding the Peripheral Nervous System and a contributing author (along with others, including Bernie Siegel, MD, Norman Cousins and Prince Charles) of the book The Heart of the Healer. Dr. Lang developed a large practice in the Catskill region of New York before being invited to join the multi-professional Healing Arts Clinic in Loveland, Colorado. There she developed another substantial practice which included two chiropractic associates. The other health professionals at Healing Arts included a dentist, medical doctors, psychologists, and massage therapists. In practice for 28 years, Dr. Lang now resides and works in St. Louis, Missouri. Her time is devoted to her consulting practice, ongoing clinical research, and teaching professional Functional Endocrinology seminars across the country. Visit her website at

And here are the notes:

In Dr. Brownstein’s thyroid and iodine lecture he said that we are ALL toxic in bromide, and it would be a waste of money to even have it tested.

  • The thyroid gland develops in the first trimester in the fetus
  • If you are deficient in iodine, you will have increased risk of spontaneous abortion, or premature birth
  • Iodine deficiency can lead to ovarian cysts, cysts in breasts, infertility, and menstrual disorders
  • Iodine deficiency can lead to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Iodine can help get people off insulin and diabetes medication
  • 47% of breastfeeding women are iodine deficient in their milk
  • Iodine deficiency increases ADD, ADHD, and decreases IQ
  • We need iodine to be able to use cholesterol correctly in the body
  • Iodine is necessary for the production of ALL hormones
  • All cysts are an iodine deficiency, which if left untreated WILL turn into nodules, then fibroids, then cancer
  • The longer seaweed is out of the water from where it originated, the less iodine will be in it, it will dissipate out in a gaseous form
  • Iodine is antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-fungal, anti-everything!, anti-cancer, and a detox agent
  • You need a combination of BOTH iodine and iodide to be effective (found in Lugols’, Iodoral, and Dr. Ron’s)
  • More iodine is needed during puberty as the breasts are growing
  • Only 10% of the iodine in iodized salt is bio-available
  • Most pesticides/insecticides contain bromide, flouride, and chlorine
  • Bromine has no known role in the body, and it is a goitrogen
  • People with cancer need very large doses of iodine

Dr. Brownstein showed pictures of the night shirt of a woman in her 60’s who was detoxing the bromine out of her breasts (breast cancer) and nails. Her night shirt was dotted all over with yellow, night after night for weeks, and her nail beds were yellow.

Here are my notes from Dr. Janet Lang. She emphasized how important it is to fix the adrenals FIRST, before the thyroid. She said if you are having thyroid symptoms, you have already exhausted your adrenals, and no matter what you do for the thyroid, it will not respond unless you fix the adrenals first.

  • The thyroid is the largest of all 7 endocrine glands
  • If the thyroid has sufficient iodine, it exerts a profound anti-microbial and antispetic effect body wide
  • All hormones are made from cholesterol, CHOLESTEROL is GOOD!
  • Estogen dominance can produce the same type of symptoms as thyroid imbalance, though there is nothing wrong with the thyroid, you must correct the hormone imbalance
  • Proper adrenal tests are saliva, not blood
  • Iodine loading will excrete the halogens (flourine, chlorine, bromine) and other heavy metals
  • It can cause severe detox symptoms, but you must go SLOW (can take anywhere from 3 mos. to many years)
  • Iodine can help acne (though breakouts can initially worsen from bromine excretion)
  • Sufficient iodine intake can result in resistance to parasitic infections
  • Selenium, magnesium, and flax/fish oil should always accompany iodine loading
  • Selenium is very important (can be obtained by eating 1 oz. of brazil nuts daily, garlic, astragalus)
  • Magnesium is needed to help minimize detox reactions
  • Iodine is carried from the intestines into the blood via EFA’s (fermented CLO)
  • The body also needs to produce bile (eat beets)
  • Most common symptom of thick/sluggish bile is bloating (caused by estrogen dominance)
  • Sea salt is also important, as well as whole food complex B vitamins, vitamin A and C
  • Sea salt does not contain enough iodine (for iodine supplementation)

So now you’re probably asking yourself, how do I get more iodine?

How To Get More Iodine: Seaweed and sea salt are not going to cut it! The best way to get more iodine is to take either Lugol’s (drops), Iodoral (the pill version of Lugol’s), or Dr. Ron’s iodine.

You can buy Iodoral at Breast Cancer Choices or Illness is Optional. (I take Iodoral.)

You can buy Lugol’s at J. Crow. (I use the Lugol’s drop for my 19-month-old daughter.)

Or you can buy Dr. Ron’s ultra-pure additive-free iodine supplement here: Dr. Ron’s

You can find more information about iodine deficiency here: The Iodine Group

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

maria November 25, 2008 at 3:25 PM

Thanks for posting this Anne Marie and thanks for your notes Christine! This is so interesting! I am taking SP iodine right now, i just upped my dosage and i think i’m having some detox just from that, it’s powerful stuff!


Carla November 25, 2008 at 6:27 PM

I started taking 12g of kelp/iodine a day and its made a huge difference in my health when it comes to fertility, energy, digestion, etc. More than anything else I have ever done.


Erica November 25, 2008 at 11:52 PM

Oh boy, this is so interesting to read……………..I may have to look into this more! I have a few cyst’s in my breast a few years back. It was quite scary.


Kate November 26, 2008 at 2:18 AM

Is it safe to take iodine when you’re pregnant? I know I should take it, and I have before, but I ran out and then got pregnant so never started up again.


Christine Kennedy November 26, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Your requirements for iodine during pregnancy and nursing are much higher than if you were not! However, because you were not taking it right from the start of pregnancy, I would start off with a small amount, like half a tablet of Iodoral (about 6 mg), then eventually up the dosage as time goes on. Because iodine is a detoxifying agent, you don’t want die-off when you are pregnant. I was taking iodine for a good 6+ months before I got pregnant and take anywhere from 12.5-25mg per day, now in the 25th week.

I am really hoping that I will have an abundance of breastmilk, and that comes with ease (rather than have to pump non-stop, or take the herbs). It is also my hope that because the baby has been receiving enough iodine throughout this pregnancy, that it will be strong and healthy and smart!


Karina June 17, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Did you produce a lot of breast milk? Did you notice any swelling during pregnancy? I had severe swelling while I was pregnant and had a very difficult pregnancy, I also was not producing enough breast milk. I just found out I have two cysts on my thyroid and have been taking iodine that I purchased at the health food store. Is lugols better for you? And can I give my baby iodine?


Laura N. November 26, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Excellent post! Thank you so much for sharing all this information. I’m going to start giving my boys iodine as well as myself.

Does this mean we will all have to supplement iodine indefinitely?


Christine Kennedy November 26, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Laura N.,

I probably would. The food we consume on a daily basis just doesn’t contain enough iodine to support what our bodies use on a daily basis. I DO NOT like having to supplement in pill form. But, the simple fact is, most of us just don’t eat enough seafood and seaweed to get what we need, not to mention that the soil that our food is grown in is so depleted.
After some time on iodine, I’m sure you could drop down to a maintanence dose of 12.5-25 mg of iodine per day. But since it fights infections, is a detoxifier, and hormone “balancer” (along with cholesterol), there really isn’t a time in life where we wouln’t need this mineral. I think I also read somewhere in the WAPF conference notes from one of the speakers, that you need to replenish iodine daily, it is NOT stored.


cheeseslave November 26, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Pretty much, yes. One Iodoral tablet provides 12.5 mg of iodine — which is about what the Japanese get in their traditional diet (and they have the lowest rates of breast cancer, etc.). They say that taking 12.5 per day is a good maintenance dose.

I’m currently taking 50 mg per day — have been since April. Dr. Flechas, whom I consulted with, wants me on 50 mg for one year and then we will retest my urine and see if I am still deficient.

Dr. Weston Price wrote in his book that the people who lived in the mountains (I think it was the Peruvian Indians) would go to great lengths to trade for dried fish eggs. When he asked them why they consumed the dried fish eggs, they said they didn’t want to get “big necks like the Americans” (goiter).


cheeseslave November 26, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Christine, did you see this post:

While I have no proof yet, I truly truly believe that iodine is related to low milk supply.

A friend of mine just told me that her friend took iodine while nursing and her supply exploded. I’m hoping too that all the iodine I am taking will help me nurse my next baby longer.


cheeseslave November 26, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Christine is right.

The Japanese drink a special bone broth with every meal. They make bone broth from a fish called bonito. This is what they make their miso soup out of. They use dried flakes of the fish — and I believe the heads are included. The head is where the thyroid is, which is where all the iodine is contained. They also put seaweed in every bowl of soup, and eat lots of dried fish and dried seaweed in other dishes and as snacks.

Clearly most of us Americans are not going to suddenly and completely change our diets and start eating tons of dried fish heads and dried seaweed. At least, I’m not going to! I love my cheese and bread and butter too much.

So I’m happy to take a little pill. The Peruvian Indians I described in the above comment did the same — they lived up in the mountains where they did not have access to seafood. So they “supplemented” with dried fish eggs. A lot like taking a pill.


Erica November 26, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Oh boy, I don’t need an increase in milk LOL!! I’ve always had the supply of a milk cow, seriously. Ollie is almost 15 months and we are still going strong. If you guys ever need any tips in the future on breastfeeding, I’d be glad to answer.

I think I’ll be ordering some of this soon. The liquid form, how does it taste? Is it easily hidden in something?


Lauren November 26, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Ann Marie and Christine, how many drops of Lugol’s do you give your toddlers? I read Dr. Brownstein’s book on iodine it was a wealth of information.


Jungleen November 26, 2008 at 3:25 PM

I grew up eating lots of seaweed soup, dried seaweed (gim) and dried fish but have not been doing so in a long while (I guess when I moved away from home and went to college). I am done nursing and will finally get tests done for iodine deficiency. yay!


Katy November 27, 2008 at 1:37 PM

Thank you for the notes! I am fascinated and excited. They say to fix the adrenals before the thyroid– did they say how to fix the adrenals? I know that you weren’t there, but maybe Christine will read this and answer, or maybe you know from your studies. In fact, I should go back through your blog, I’m sure it has stuff on adrenal function in there.

I wish that the symptoms of thyroid problems and estrogen dominance weren’t so similar– I suspect I’ve got one or the other.

Also, it says to take the iodine/iodide with magnesium, fish or flax oil, and selenium. Selenium I can get from garlic, and CLO covers the fish oil, but is there any food that will give me adequate magnesium? I prefer to get nutrients from food if possible, though I know it isn’t always.

Thanks again! I love to read your blog, I check it all the time. I recently started eating oysters– I went from never having eaten a raw one (or even a cooked one that I can recall) to having eaten nine in the past month. I don’t live close to the coast, but at the local WF they have live wild-caught oysters. I always get two and make them shuck them for me, then I squeeze lemon on them and swallow them whole. It’s like kombucha– I was repulsed at first but the more I read the more I was attracted to them. And my taste buds slowly follow my brain. Imagine– choosing food based on nutrition rather than solely on taste! Now I buy kombucha as a treat to myself.

Happy Thanksgiving!


MMC September 16, 2013 at 5:58 AM

Magnesium can be found in good supply in pumpkin/squash seeds, and also in sunflower seeds, almonds, buckweed, tomatoes, Macadamia nuts, salmon and bananas. Be careful to soak your nuts and seeds properly to avoid phytic acid.

Selenium can be found in cod fish, 100g of cod contains around 150 mcg of Se out of the 200 mcg you should get daily.


Christine Kennedy November 29, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Hi Katy,

The lectures were only discussing thyroid, they didn’t get into much detail about adrenal. But, I will tell you what I know about the adrenals. If they are stressed and fatigued, you need to rest as often as possible, and get lots of sleep. I have also been taking dessicated adrenal gland, and that is supposed to help boost and heal your own adrenals. Vit. C helps, and you can get that through fruits and veggies (especailly juicing), or taking a whole whole supplement like acerola or camu berry powder. I think that licorice extract and maca are also supposed to help. Ann Marie also knows quite a bit about the adrenals, and I’m pretty sure if you do a search on her blog, you’ll come up with some posts where she has adressed this issue.

As far as I know about magnesium, that is found mainly in dark leafy greens. Of course, you can also get it from dairy.
Hope that helps some.


Katy November 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM

Thanks Christine! That’s helpful. :)


Stephanie M. December 10, 2008 at 11:31 PM

I am nursing a 5m old, any ideas on how much I should start taking? Is it safe? -Thanks


cheeseslave December 11, 2008 at 5:58 AM

Yes it’s safe. The only thing about it when you are nursing is your body starts to detoxify when you start taking iodine.

If it were me, I would start with a small amount — like 1/2 or 1/4 of an Iodoral pill (or you could use Lugol’s which comes in drops). Then I would slowly increase over a period of weeks or months.

One Iodoral pill contains 12.5 mg of iodine.

Your baby will get iodine via your breastmilk. When you stop nursing, you can give your baby Lugol’s. I give Kate 1-2 drops of Lugol’s 2.2% every 2-3 days in her homemade formula. So she gets a drop or two every other day.


Thane June 4, 2009 at 10:04 PM

I have a multi-nodular goitre and have a significant iodine deficiency.

I am treating both the adrenal system and the thyroid system through naturopathy, kinesiology and acupuncture, however, my question relates to the iodine deficiency – how long does it take to be iodine “sufficient”??

I am taking iodine drops as well as selenium, magnesium, etc etc and am doing a daily iodine test but would love to know when I might achieve some results.

Any thoughts?


admin June 5, 2009 at 9:41 AM


It really depends on the person. It does take time, though. It can takes months or years. Not sure how much you are taking and I am not a doctor however many people don’t take enough iodine. Most of the iodine docs recommend larger doses of iodine when you are trying to saturate the thyroid. I have been on 50 mg of Iodoral for over a year now. If I were you I would look into working with one of the iodine doctors. I worked w/ Dr. Jorge Flechas.

If you really want to speed healing, I would also be sure to avoid the following — these things block iodine uptake:

Bromide (in many commercial breads and baked goods, also in many soft drinks inc. Mountain Dew)
Soy (in all forms)
Fluoride (in toothpaste, drinking water, and in drinks that are made with water, i.e., juices, pop, beer, etc.)
Perchlorate (in drinking water)


Thane June 6, 2009 at 2:43 AM

Thank you so much for your feedback – greatly appreciated.

I am following a fairly restrictive diet – just fish, chicken, vegetables (no cruciferous, etc) and nuts and seeds. A few herbs and spices to liven things up.

I had no idea about the impact of fluoride – why is this so? Should I be drinking filtered tap water?

Also, is your doctor in the US? Unfortunately, I’m in Australia :(


admin June 6, 2009 at 6:55 AM

Fluoride is in drinking water unless you filter it out. And you have to use reverse osmosis or distillation to get it out — regular filtering doesn’t work. Not sure if you have fluoride in your water in Australia, though.

Dr. Flechas might work w/ you. Depends on how to order the tests… Email his office and ask. Perhaps he can recommend someone for you who is closer.


Tina July 14, 2009 at 7:34 AM

Hi Ann Marie,

I just got J.Crow’s iodine. I didn’t get information with it so I wanted to ask how much you would recommend my family take.

These are the ingredients: Distilled water 94% Potassium iodide 4% Iodine 2%.

I have a 1 year old, 3.5 year old and then there’s my husband and me.

Thank you!


Heather October 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Hello Anne Marie,

Curious about what percentage, how many drops of iodine to start an 11 year old girl on… or would Iodoral be better?


susan December 7, 2009 at 8:33 PM

i’m wondering if it’s ok to start the iodoral at the same time as treating adrenal fatigue. i’ve been taking herbs/glandulars for the adrenal fatigue for a number of months now, but still have many symptoms that could be low adrenal or thyroid-low body temp, fatigue, low blood pressure. i just ordered isocort and am wondering if i could take the iodoral with it.
any suggestions? thanks susan


cheeseslave December 7, 2009 at 11:26 PM

Susan – You might want to work with a naturopath or nutritionist — or one of these “iodine docs” — if you are not already.

They can do tests to see what your levels are. I had my iodine levels tested by Dr. Jorges Flechas. We did a urine test (long-distance — they sent me the kit) and then he did a phone consultation with me to prescribe how much Iodoral I should take.

Here is Dr. Flechas’ website:

I think Janet Lang is accepting patients as well. Last time I checked, Dr. Brownstein was not. Google them and you can find out.


Dana June 24, 2010 at 5:18 PM

I know this is an old post but someone was asking about fluoride having an effect on the thyroid and why. Fluoride, or more properly fluorine, comes from the same column in the periodic table that iodine does. That column is referred to as the halogen group. Bromine also belongs in that group.

I’m not finding enough “official” info as to how the other halogen-group elements affect the thyroid. but I’ve *heard* that they can confuse the thyroid, as it were.


LeahS July 19, 2011 at 8:45 AM

I was shocked when I started learning about iodine… It is SO critical and so under emphasized!


Nicole Melnick February 3, 2012 at 8:39 AM

I agree with the need for iodine in the body. What about taking Himalayan sole? I was thinking my mom might be deficient, would this be of help?


Thyroid Boy February 10, 2012 at 1:31 PM

When you say fix adrenals first before taking thyroxine, does it mean that thyroxine shouldn’t be taken at all unless adrenals are fixed? What about if someone has removed their thyroid and has got no thyroid? Wouldn’t adrenals be more stressed out because there is no thyroxine in the body? It’s all very complicated and I am stuck in the loop :(


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Lysia December 12, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Can you tell me how much magnesium, selenium, clo you take? I have kelp pills and i guess thats not good enough. Thanks.


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