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Iodine Iodine and Bioidentical HRT in Anti Aging

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The Carlton Clinic
Richard Snouffer, MD
1713 Hamric Dr. East, Suite B
Oxford, Alabama  36203

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Importance of Iodine


Iodine is a vital nutrient.  It is used by virtually every tissue in the body.  It is well known that iodine is vital to the production of thyroid hormone, which is directly responsible for regulating the metabolism of every cell in our bodies.  However, less well known is the fact that iodine is vital in some way or other for the production of every hormone in our bodies.  Regarding thyroid function, iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormone thyroxine, or T4, and for the transformation of T4 into T3.  Without enough iodine in the body, what T4 can be made is transformed into reverse-T3, which is inactive as far as helping our metabolism, but is similar enough to T3 that it signals the shut-off mechanism and the body stops making or releasing T4 from the thyroid gland.  This further worsens the thyroid deficiency.

Iodine is also used by the body as a line of defense against microorganisms.  There is no known resistance to iodide in any bacteria, any virus or any fungus.  With all these uses in the body, the USRDA for iodine is actually quite low as a recommended amount of intake. 

An extremely high percentage of North Americans are deficient in iodine.  Our food supply has become progressively more and more poor with regard to iodine content (and many other trace minerals) as our soils have become depleted.  Furthermore, our habits, particularly as Americans, provide for poor iodine absorption of what little iodine we DO come across.  For example coffee, an American staple, blocks the absorption of iodine, both by its acidity and its caffeine content. 

Iodine levels in our foods have been steadily falling for over 30 years.  In this time the amount of thyroid disease has risen.  Despite this, many physicians are extremely reluctant to prescribe iodine for their patients.  It has been drilled in our heads since medical school that supplementing iodine is dangerous, that it can lead to an overactive thyroid.  This may be true—but only in a fairly rare condition, such as toxic multinodular goiter. 

What about iodized salt?

The iodine in salt is also quite low, and it is in a form that has a very low absorption rate on top of that.  (Only about 10% is absorbed.)  Essentially, the amount of iodine in table salt is just enough to prevent a condition of enlarged thyroid gland called goiter.  When the amount of iodine becomes low, the thyroid gland hypertrophies or enlarges, in an attempt to become more efficient at capturing every iodine molecule it can for the purpose of thyroid hormone production.  This enlargement is called goiter. However, as previously stated, iodine is important for far more than merely for the prevention of goiter.

In most people, iodine supplementation leads to improved immune system function, thyroid function and hormone metabolism.  If any excess is consumed, it is removed by the kidneys through the urine.  If iodine was as dangerous as many doctors would have you believe, the amount of thyroid disease should be falling—yet exactly the opposite is the case. As iodine levels in our food and our environment have fallen, various thyroid diseases are becoming more common.

What if I (or someone I love) is pregnant?

Iodine/Iodide supplementation has been shown in medical studies to reduce the baby's risk of autism and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  It has also been shown to increase the average I.Q. scores in subsequent testing of the babies whose mothers were supplemented with iodine during pregnancy.  The earlier that iodine supplementation was started during pregnancy, and the greater the dose taken by the mother, were both associated with an increased protective effect.  A better question would be, "Why aren't potential mothers placed on iodine supplementation as soon as the doctor knows the woman is trying to, or may become pregnant? "  Even better, "Why aren't all women of child bearing age on iodine/iodide supplementation? "

What if I am allergic to iodine (or shellfish, etc.)?

You should not take iodine/iodide if you are truly allergic to shellfish or to the iodine used in medical tests.  Talk to your doctor prior to beginning any supplement.  You should especially let your doctor know if you want to supplement iodine/iodide and have had any reaction to shellfish, seafood, any medical tests (especially dye used in x-rays), or if you have had any symptoms, however mild, that make you think you may have been allergic in the past.  Your doctor may be able to determine whether your symptoms were merely side effects (e.g., nausea, etc.) or if they were truly allergic in nature.

With all of this in mind, what form of iodine should be taken? 

Where medically appropriate, The Carlton Clinic recommends and prescribes Lugol’s Solution.  Lugol’s is a mixture of elemental iodine and the ionic iodide forms.  The body absorbs the iodine much better if it is in such a mixed form, than if it is either of the forms individually.  Furthermore, iodine absorption can be improved by drinking it in alkaline water, according to Dr. Mark Starr, MD, a leading expert physician on the subject of iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. 

See a bioidentical HRT physician, like Dr. Snouffer at The Carlton Clinic, for a recommendation of how much iodine you should be taking. 

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Copyright © Richard Snouffer, MD
The Carlton Clinic
1713 Hamric Drive East, Suite B
Oxford, Alabama  36203