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Iodine and Selenium

16/10/2021 09:13
Bence Gal Szabo

Iodine (and Selenium)

Iodine is not only important for the thyroid gland. Among others, the brain, ovaries, women’s breasts and testicles use more iodine than the thyroid gland, provided that the iodine reserves of the organism are sufficient, in ideal case that is. It is said that many physicians still consider iodine only in connection with the thyroid gland, and often recommend to fully avoid iodine (even food with iodine content) to their patients with thyroid gland issues or to patients, whose thyroid gland has been removed. The reason many physicians make this recommendation because certain analysis suggests that iodine supplementation and/or high iodine intake might increase the risk of thyroid gland problems, or in case of those suffering from autoimmune thyroid gland disease - not often though - iodine supplementation may temporarily result in slight deterioration of the test results. Other examinations found just the opposite. i.e. that high iodine intake does not increase, but actually and explicitly decreases the risk of thyroid gland diseases, and that additional iodine intake did not deteriorate the values of patients with autoimmune thyroid gland disease, either. So the analyses in the field of iodine supplementation are contradictory. There is full consensus, however, that adequate intake of selenium does reduce the risk of thyroid gland diseases, improves the existing thyroid gland problems, and protects from a potential adverse effect of iodine. The analyses summarily suggest that if there is no lack of selenium, then iodine is not harmful, but is useful. Iodine level of the thyroid gland of patients suffering from autoimmune thyroid gland disease is always a lot lower than the iodine level of the thyroid gland of healthy people. And the worse of one’s condition is, the lower the iodine content of the thyroid gland would be. Iodine intake of Japanese people - who consume the most iodine in the world - is well above 1,000 mcg per day (typically between 1,200 and 13,000 mcg, but higher volumes aren’t rare, either). Still, many diseases of the thyroid gland are rarer in their case, and even the Hashimoto is not more frequent. In turn, their selenium intake is also high.

One of the main factors causing thyroid gland problems is always the lack of iodine, and so recommending iodine-deficient diet will cause certain disasters over time (it’s another problem that with taking medication containing thyroid gland hormone, values can be better without iodine, but the lack of iodine only increases the cause of the problem).

So, should we, or should we not, take it in case of thyroid gland problem? And how much?
The ideal solution is to take the most iodine we can without causing deterioration of the laboratory values. Before taking any iodine it is important to make sure that our selenium level is in order (and preferably our magnesium and vitamin C levels, as well). If we do not often consume food rich in selenium (liver, all kinds of saltwater fish/seafood and mustard are good sources of selenium), then we should take 200 mcg of selenium for 2 to 4 weeks, e.g. in form of selenium yeast. And we should also take at least 2000 mg vitamin C each day (well distributed throughout the day) + well absorbing magnesium compound (e.g. in form of Mg-lactate/biscyglinate/ascorbate/orotate) equal to 200 to 400 mg elementary magnesium. After this, we can safely take 225 mcg iodine, which quantity can even be increased later. After starting to take iodine, selenium intake can be reduced to 100 to 120 mcg (there is typically 50 to 100 mcg of it even in food not rich in selenium). It is important that everyone suffering from a disease of the thyroid gland - or people whose thyroid gland has been removed - should consume at least 225 mcg iodine each day. In case, if - despite optimizing selenium level - any of the values become worse as a result of taking iodine (the chances for that are rather slim), then stopping gluten intake will probably solve the problem. If it would not, then avoiding legumes, food containing Neu5gc (mammals), or food belonging to the potato family (i.e. auto-immune protocol nutrition, AIP) will surely solve the problem.

Iodine for pregnant women?

It is especially important that even a very slight iodine deficit could reduce the expected IQ level of the child by 8 to 16 points. Severe iodine deficit could even lead to cretinism (Congenital iodine-deficiency syndrome). In addition, the child’s ADHD risk is further increased, if the mother suffers from iodine deficit during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding. Still, many doctors prohibit taking iodine even for pregnant women suffering from thyroid gland disease. In this case, too, the selenium level has to be optimized first, and only then the iodine supplementation can be started.
That is why we added 225 mcg iodine to our GAL and GAL+ Prenatal, as well as to GAL and GAL+ Multivitamin products, because - provided that the selenium level is adequate - it very rarely causes problems, even in case of severe autoimmune thyroid gland disease, but on a long term, it is sufficient to ensure optimal iodine level.

The selenium level is 120 mcg instead of 200 mcg, because taking 200 mcg on the long run (let alone the selenium contained in the food we eat) may result in excessive selenium level that is beyond the optimal, and may also cause problems. (120 mcg of selenium of the forms we use is abundantly enough, as it originates partly from methyl-l-selenocysteine and methyl-l-selenoglutation; these are more active forms, with higher tolerance and better absorption).
For those who want to go deeper into the topic of iodine, I recommend books of Dr David Brownstein, Dr Jeffrey Dach, Dr Guy E. Abraham, the works and research of Dr Jorge Flechas, as well as the book The Iodine Crisis recently released.

Dr. Jorge Flechas: AutoimmuneThyroiditis and IodineTherapy. Journal of RestorativeMedicine. 2013.

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