Iodine Part III:
Why are the vast majority of Americans deficient in iodine?
As previously mentioned the iodine source in our world comes primarily from the oceans. The soil adjacent to oceans generally contains adequate amounts of iodine. The further inland the less iodine in the soil, which is why the mid-west states such as Michigan are called the “Goiter Belt.” Natural or man-made soil erosion worsens the situation. Deforestation and poor farming techniques such as using only chemical fertilizer and many other chemical applications further exacerbated the iodine deficiency.
In many American homes the only source of iodine was iodized salt. With the caution of risk of high blood pressure from consuming salt many people stopped or reduced their salt intake. Also certain diets may contribute to the iodine deficiency ie: diets devoid of ocean fish or sea vegetables (sea weed), diets high in the consumption of bakery products which contain bromide and vegan/vegetarian diets. Bromide is similar to iodine in size and weight. It successfully competes with iodine in binding receptors especially in the thyroid. It is not only toxic, but worsens the iodine deficiency situation. Even relatively small amounts of bromide can cause delirium, psychomotor retardation, schizophrenia, hallucinations, depression, headaches and irritability. Bromine is used as an antibacterial agent in pools and hot tubs. It is widely used in agriculture as a fumigant. In 1991 18.7 million pounds were used on crops in California alone! Some popular drinks such as Mountain Dew, AMP Energy drink and Gatorade have brominated vegetable oils. Some medicines especially those used for treating asthma , like Atrovent inhaler and nasal sprays and Spiriva contain bromide. Bromide was added to all commercial baked goods as a dough conditioner. Bromide intake results in iodine being eliminated from the thyroid , and in animal studies has been shown to cause hypothyroidism. Ingesting iodine caused the body to excrete large amounts of bromide. Bromine/bromide is a halide as is iodine/iodide and chlorine/chloride, and fluoride. All halides compete with one another for absorption and utilization in our bodies. So bromine and chlorine interfere with iodine utilization in the thyroid as well as wherever else iodine would concentrate in the body. These substances are termed “goitrogens” , because they promote the formation of goiter ( enlarged thyroid.) Bromine and chlorine are toxic poisons which are known carcinogens implicated in breast cancer.( Iodine is anti-carcinogenic which will be discussed later in this series.) Bromine in baked goods and chlorine in substances such as Splenda have accelerated the iodine deficiency situation among us. The medical consequences include increased thyroid disorders including autoimmune thyroid disorders ( Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease), and thyroid cancer. In addition, other cancers including breast and prostate cancer may be related to this phenomenon. More on this cancer relation will be discussed further in this series.
Fluoride is also a halide, thus competing with iodine for receptor sites, and has been shown to inhibit the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine. Fluoride is a toxic agent, and is much more toxic to the body when an iodine deficiency is present. As far back as in 1854, fluoride was found to cause goiter in animal studies, demonstrating its adverse effect on the thyroid. Presently we might be ingesting fluoride in our drinking water or in certain medications such as the popular SSRI antidepressants (Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac), and allergy meds like Flovent and Flonase. Of interesting note: the above mentioned class of anti-depressants has been reported to increase risk of breast cancer-possibly due to the iodine connection! There have been many other medications containing fluoride that have been discontinued due to their serious harmful side-effects. Many countries around the world have stopped adding fluoride. to the drinking water as they have realized the poor science behind fluoridation and the harmful results. Fluoridation has been linked to dental fluorosis, hip fractures, bone cancer, lowered intelligence, kidney toxicity and other negative effects. There has never been a long term study showing positive effects of ingesting fluoride. Lastly, many communities which have studied this have found that there was no difference between the fluoridated or the non-fluoridated areas as regarding dental caries (cavities). There have been a few cases of children who by mistake ingested the fluoride containing dental polish in the dish at the dentist office and died from the concentrated fluoride.
The next halide, also goitrogenic, is chloride. Chloride is found in our bodies, and is part of our extra-cellular body fluid. Chlorine, though, is a toxic element. It is found in our drinking water, added to pools and spas, is released as a gas from the automatic dishwasher if using detergent containing chlorine, and is a whitener. Chlorine and its byproducts weakens immune systems (possible iodine connection), birth defects, cancer, and reproductive issues. Important to note, the sugar substitute Splenda (suclarose) is a chlorinated sugar, and should be avoided. As we know chlorine is used to clean water from harmful bacteria, so I would like to promote the use of other disinfecting agents such as iodine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light.
Another form of chlorine which further translates to lower iodine levels in a great portion of Americans is percholates. Percholates are both found naturally and are manmade. Percholates can displace iodine binding and can damage the iodine transport mechanism. Because of this mechanism, patients with hyper (too high) thyroid were given percholate medication years ago, until the health department discontinued these meds due to safety issues. Even at low levels percholates have been found to cause thyroid cancer. Other illnesses related to lowered iodine levels when there is excess percholates are breast disease, hypothyroidism, newborn mental illness, poor fetal and neo-natal development and general weakened immune systems. Both drinking water and produce like lettuce are sources of percholates. Percholate has been found in both dairy and human milk. Several studies from many different states have shown significant amounts of percholate in dairy milk sample. Yet the percholate levels of human milk were 500% higher than in dairy milk. In fact, as previously mentioned, the higher the percholate levels the lower the iodine levels. Breast milk is the only source of iodine in infants. Scientists are now recommending revising the levels of iodine intake in pregnant and lactating women. Studies show that at least 43 states have contaminated water from percholates. The most contaminated areas are those states around the lowerColorado River. Over 1.8 million acres of land , 15% of the nation’s crops and 13% of the nation’s livestock are irrigated by the percholate contaminatedColorado River.
I have now explained why iodine levels have gone down in the American public in the past 50 years. In a “catch 22” situation percholates and the other toxic halides such as fluoride and bromide are more toxic substances when iodine deficiency is present. It is both important for all of us to de-toxicfy from these harmful halides and to optimize iodine intake, It is VERY important for women of child-bearing age to correct iodine deficiency before pregnancy.
Before I continue to illustrate iodine deficiency and its’ relation to thyroid disease, and other illnesses such as breast disease and cancer, I would like to stress a very important point. That is: mainstream medicine, your average internal or family medical doctor, and even your specially trained endocrinologist have not yet acknowledged the iodine deficiency epidemic inAmerica. At least three outstanding medical doctors, who have tested almost 30,000 Americans with a urine-load test, have shown the serious iodine deficiency in about 90% of those tested. Their names are Dr. Flechas, Dr. Abraham and Dr. Brownstein.
Stay Tuned for Part 4: Iodine deficiency and its’ relation to various serious diseases.