The Health Edge: Iodine Deficiency

In this repeat recording John and Mark discuss the growing and largely under recognized problem of iodine deficiency. The explore the connection between iodine deficiency and human health with an emphasis on thyroid disease. An overview of testing and lifestyle-supplement strategy.

7 thoughts on “The Health Edge: Iodine Deficiency

  1. Kathryn Francis MS, RDN, LD, IFNCP

    Hello
    I just recently listened to this episode for the first time and was sharing what I learned with a group of patients. One of them has an iodine allergy was wondering what the implications of this were for her. After doing some digging I have seen some conflicting information regarding iodine allergy to things such as contrast dye and allergy to dietary iodine. My understanding is that reaction to contrast dye does not necessarily mean a person should avoid dietary iodine, and that allergy to iodine-rich foods is likely r/t proteins or endotoxins from the fish. Though I have read there may be an increased likelihood of iodine allergy in patients with shellfish allergy. What are the implications (if any) for a person with iodine OR seafood allergy in regards to iodine supplementation? Should they supplement? Are sea vegetables safe with seafood allergy? Thank you for your time and your wonderful podcast that I am addicted to!

    • Hi Katherine,

      Great question and thank you for tuning in to The Health Edge! if an “iodine allergy” is on the basis of having received iodinated contrast agents, then I would NOT expect cross-reactivity with iodine containing foods e.g. seafood or marine vegetables. It is true that a very small % of people with seafood allergy might react (approx 3%) to receiving IV contrast agents for CT scanning. Current thinking is that most people who react to seafood are not reacting to the iodine in the food. Most likely they are reacting to other “haptogens’, unrelated to iodine. I would not see a contrast or seafood allergy as a risk for receiving an iodine supplement. While the research is very limited, most people I know with seafood allergies tolerate marine vegetables w/o cross-reaction. The only instance where I might be more cautious is with an anaphylactic response to seafood. Thanks so much! Mark

  2. If TSH is above 3 and other thyroid tests are WNL, would you say that iodine at 12-25mg is a relatively safe attempt at improving energy? I’ve heard a functional med doc go straight to thyroid hormone and skip iodine altogether.

    • Hi Joe,
      This is a great question and the research out there for a scenario as this is limited. I believe it is important to consider a TSH >2.5 as abnormal. If a person is symptomatic e.g. constipation, cold intolerance, hair/skin changes, etc. then going right to thyroid replacement is a consideration. For a modest increase as this, I would consider potentially treatable causes e.g. iodine, selenium deficiency or perhaps a chronic inflammatory condition like “leaky gut”. If a person has antibodies, usually TPO antibodies, then giving iodine can actually worsen thyroid function and that gets tricky. If asymptomatic, I would consider a paleo-diet, perhaps probiotics, and selenium supplementation and repeat testing in 4-6 months being sure to include TPO antibodies. If symptomatic and TPO antibodies are present, I would go right to treatment, finding the lowest dose possible to restore function while modifying any aspect of lifestyle that may be contributing. Mark

    • This is a great question and the research out there for a scenario as this is limited. I believe it is important to consider a TSH >2.5 as abnormal. If a person is symptomatic e.g. constipation, cold intolerance, hair/skin changes, etc. then going right to thyroid replacement is a consideration. For a modest increase as this, I would consider potentially treatable causes e.g. iodine, selenium deficiency or perhaps a chronic inflammatory condition like “leaky gut”. If a person has antibodies, usually TPO antibodies, then giving iodine can actually worsen thyroid function and that gets tricky. If asymptomatic, I would consider a paleo-diet, perhaps probiotics, and selenium supplementation and repeat testing in 4-6 months being sure to include TPO antibodies. If symptomatic and TPO antibodies are present, I would go right to treatment, finding the lowest dose possible to restore function while modifying any aspect of lifestyle that may be contributing. Mark

      • Given a situation of no elevated antibodies, a few symptoms, and a history of heavy intake of lightly cooked kale and collards, how misguided can high dose iodine/iodide be? Does high dose iodine/iodide conflict with exogenous thyroid therapy? Good stuff as always, Mark!

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