To see my new recommendations without the news or rational, scroll down to recommendations.
The situation in Japan is still very serious. Earlier this week, reports of a meltdown or partial meltdown were reported. Some believe that a meltdown explains the “crack” in the concrete that is allowing radioactive water to get into the Pacific ocean. Radiation continues to be released and it is now entering higher into the atmosphere. Reactor 2 is currently leaking 1,000 millisieverts (100 rem) of radiation into the air per hour. (For comparison, a head CT scan is a dose of 6 rem). The Japanese government is now saying that it will be months before they will successfully stop the radiation leakage at the nuclear plants.
In other news, radioactive iodine from Japan has been found in Cleveland. While the increase in radiation levels overall are very insignificant, my concern is that there are increases in radioactive iodine. There are two forms of radioactive iodine: the first is iodine-131, which has a half life of 8 days, and the second is iodine-129, from spent radioactive fuel,which has a half life of millions of years. To be clear, iodine-129, gives off much less radiation than iodine-131. I have not seen reports on iodine-129 release, and if anyone does or has more information, please let me know.
My concern is that I believe that 50-70% of my patients are low in iodine. (Dr. Brownstein, author of Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, states that 96% of his patients are deficient). The increase of radioactive iodine is dangerous to those of us who are deficient because our bodies will absorb and store the radioactive form more readily than those who are not deficient. This can lead to an increase in thyroid problems including cancer down the road.
Because of the continued exposure to radioactive iodine in the coming months, and the fact that so many of us are low in iodine, I am changing my recommendations. To be clear, I am not recommending high doses of potassium iodide that are found in the radiation pills, but I am recommending that even those without low iodine/thyroid symptoms should increase their iodine consumption. I also want to be clear that I am not recommending that people increase their consumption of iodized salt (I’ve seen people with allergic reactions to it), and in Dr. Brownstein’s Iodine book, he shows research that iodized salt only minimally increases iodine blood levels and is a poor source for iodine.
I am not changing recommendations for people with low iodine symptoms, like cold hands and feet, low body temperature, slow metabolism, difficulty losing weight, abnormal hair loss etc. I am still recommending 12-13mg per day of an iodine supplement. Currently my family is taking 25mg with no problems (we all have low thyroid symptoms). Dr. Brownstein is recommending .08mg of iodine per pound of body weight for children (and pets).
An easy way to see if you need iodine is to get USP Tincture of Iodine from the drugstore. Paint a 2 inch circle on your inner thigh, upper inner arm or belly. Let dry and periodically observe the stain. If the yellow stain disappears in under 4 hours, you definitely need iodine. If it disappears in under 8 hours, you may need it. If it is still there after 8 hours, you don’t need it.
For those without thyroid symptoms or that don’t need iodine, I am recommending 5-6mg per day. This can be in the form of seaweed (One teaspoon per day in powdered form or more if not powdered), iodine supplements, or by painting iodine on the skin. This would be the best way to give it to children. You can’t measure how much intake of iodine you are getting with the skin method, but it is a way to monitor if a child or person is getting enough.
The Japanese diet contains more than 13mg of iodine per day. This is 100 times what is recommended (and found) in the typical American diet. I believe that raising it to half at the minimum for everyone will be a safe and beneficial dose.
The benefit from the increased iodine consumption outweighs the risk of any side effects. That said, I want to go through possible side effects from iodine consumption. The first that I’ve experienced with Iosol is a racing heart five minutes after taking the drops. This goes away quickly, but if you have that after taking it, I would recommend going down on the dose or stop it completely. Other symptoms of too much iodine are a frontal headache, metallic taste in the mouth, increased salivation, and increased sneezing. If you experience any of those symptoms, reduce your dose. Finally, an increase in exhaustion after starting iodine usually means an iron deficiency. This can be corrected with diet (bloody steak?), or with supplementation.
The radioactive iodine that we are being exposed to is minimal; the only reason that I am concerned about it is that so many of us are iodine deficient. I believe that my new recommendations address any possible harm that we could be exposed to.