Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It by David Brownstein, MD
Iodine: the little nutrient that works so hard
Iodine is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be consumed in the diet. Iodine is found primarily in seawater and sea organisms, particularly seaweed. Some iodine becomes airborne and is deposited in soil and water but in extremely small quantities. It is estimated that one third of the earth’s soil is deficient in iodine and that people’s iodine levels have fallen 50 percent over the past thirty years.
Iodine was added to table salt in the 1920s due to high incidence of goiter in areas with low soil iodine. But the RDA for iodine is just enough to prevent goiter, not necessarily enough for optimum health. Iodine is used by every cell of the body, the thyroid gland being the heaviest consumer. It’s no wonder we are experiencing so much hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
In the 1960s iodine was used by the commercial baking industry as a dough conditioner, but due to unfounded concerns of toxicity, it was removed twenty years later and replaced with bromine. (The Japanese regularly consume one hundred times the RDA of iodine without ill effect.) The irony is that bromine is a known goitrogen and competes with iodine at receptor sites in the cells. What were they thinking? Other chemicals that compete with iodine are chlorine, fluoride, and perchlorate, all of which can be found in most municipal water supplies.
In this book, Dr. Brownstein discusses:
- the history of iodine
- where it’s found
- insufficiency of iodine in supplemented salt
- why the RDA for iodine is not enough
- difference between iodide and iodine and why both are needed
- testing for iodine levels
- the problem of halogens competing with iodine and how sufficient iodine can detoxify these chemicals
- iodine’s role in the cell, thyroid gland, breast, prostate, uterus and ovaries
- the importance of adequate selenium and vitamins B2 and B3
- requirements for children
- iodine’s possible role in the reduction of cancer
- diseases that can occur because of iodine deficiency
- a question and answer section
- scientific references
- numerous case studies of patients he has successfully treated
I would have liked more information on thyroid function in relation to iodine, but the author has chosen to write a separate book (Overcoming Thyroid Disorders) covering that topic and yet another book on a required component of his treatment protocol: (Salt: Your Way To Health).
I don’t think the author adequately addressed the claim that supplemental iodine should be avoided in those with Hashimoto’s. I’m also not fond of books with large typefaces and double spacing, yet the book still manages to convey a wealth of information that will help anyone understand the importance of iodine’s many roles in the body.
Another point the author makes is that many people prescribed thyroid hormones may be harming themselves down the road if they do not have sufficient dietary iodine. Demanding the thyroid to increase output without providing it with nutrients essential to its function may lead to autoimmune diseases of the thyroid. According to Bernstein, these same people may be able to reduce or eliminate these thyroid hormones by simply raising serum iodine levels. On the other hand, I have read that the Japanese consume a lot of iodine in sea plants and yet have high rates of hypothyroidism. And where do you think Hashimoto’s came from?
Update: 4/15/10: After supplementing with iodine, I began getting hot flashes and night sweats and stopped menstruating. I also had difficult sleeping through the night. Several other women in a Yahoo iodine group had the same complaints. Many people reacted poorly to Brownstein’s protocol, which was laid at the feet of poor adrenal function and/or detoxification. But several very vocal people claimed great success with it. I’ve been researching further into iodine, whose use appears to be very controversial. I am skeptical about Brownstein’s protocol until I can learn more. Proceed with caution.
Update: 7/9/10. It took about three months for the hot flashes and night sweats to stop, I’m sleeping through the night, and I have begun menstruating again. I still supplement occasionally with iodine, but very small amounts.
Dr. Brownstein declined my request for an interview.
Buy Iodine from Amazon.