Iodine: Essential Trace Element for the Mind and Body

Iodine was identified as essential for humans back in the 1920s. I believe that everyone who has studied nutrition knows that a deficiency of iodine will cause an underactive thyroid. But now there is a plethora of scientific evidence showing us what else iodine does for us. And if I hadn’t seen the studies with my own eyes I would have found it hard to believe.

Every cell in our body needs iodine to function properly. The white blood cells of our immune system cannot function properly without adequate amounts of iodine. Even our sweat glands need iodine and will not function properly when we are deficient. This leads to dry skin. Neither will our salivary glands function properly. That means we would experience dry eyes and a dry mouth.

Iodine deficiency affects approximately two billion people around the world and is the number one preventable cause of intellectual disability.[1] It is crucial that both the fetus and the infant get enough in the first three years of existence or the central nervous system will not develop properly.  According to Jorge D. Flechas, MD, adding a good iodine supplement to a pregnant woman’s diet will produce a child with an IQ 20 to 30 points higher than the parents’ IQ.[2]

A good iodine supplement will contain both iodine and iodide. Like other minerals, iodine comes in several forms. Potassium Iodide and sodium iodide are the salt forms of iodine. Some organs only absorb iodine and other organs only absorb iodide. For example, only iodine will absorb in the prostate and stomach while iodide will absorb in the salivary glands, skin and the thyroid.[2]

This is why we should not take a supplement that contains only iodine or iodide but instead we should consume a supplement that contains both. One example of a supplement that contains both iodine and iodide is Lugol’s iodine.

Surveys conclude that numerous pregnant women in the United States, while not showing signs of iodine deficiency, obtain insufficient amounts of iodine.[3]  Dr. Flechas also states that a mild deficiency in the early years of life will manifest as attention deficit disorder.[2]

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) recommend an iodine intake for pregnant women of 250 mcg per day.[4] However, the average intake is much greater in in some parts of the world. For example, the average intake of iodine in Japan is considerable greater at 13.8 mg per day.

Many clinical nutritionists agree that we need considerably more iodine than the minimal amount that the WHO and other organizations are suggesting. These nutritionists also agree that the RDA was set to prevent goiter and does not take into consideration all the other bodily functions that require iodine.

The absence of iodine in a cell may allow cancer to form. The protective effect of iodine against breast cancer has been well documented in Japanese women who consume iodine-rich seaweed and have a low rate of breast cancer.[5][6] Iodine is known to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cells.[7]

A decrease in the incidence of death rate from stomach cancer after supplementation with iodine has also been reported.[8] Researchers have found a correlation between iodine deficiency and gastric cancer.[9][10]

And the list goes on; the lack of iodine can also lead to hearing loss and deafness according to Mayo Clinic.[11] Research suggests that iodine supplementation might be helpful for the treatment of fibrocystic breast disease.[12]  After a nuclear accident iodine supplementation may save your life.[13] PCOS (poly cystic ovaries) may benefit from iodine supplementation.[14]

Iodine is required for synthesizing thyroid hormones and is an integral component of them. When a person is deficient in iodine, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs. Symptoms may include mental slowing, depression, fatigue, goiter, weight gain and low body temperature.[15] Estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine. That is why more woman have underactive thyroids than men.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH) the best food sources of iodide and iodine are sea vegetables.[16] I eat sea veggies from the Atlantic Ocean such as dulse and kelp on a daily basis and also consume a number of other ocean plants such as arame, hiziki, kombu, and wakame on occasion.

I suggest that everyone find a source of iodine that feels right for them and be conscious of your intake. But since iodine is a brain stimulant, it is not advised to take it before going to sleep.

[1] McNeil, Donald G. Jr (2006-12-16). “In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt”. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-04.


[3] Perrine CG, Herrick K, Serdula MK, Sullivan KM. Some subgroups of reproductive age women in the United States may be at risk for iodine deficiency. J Nutr. 2010 Aug;140(8):1489-1494.

[4] World Health Organization. United Nations Children’s Fund & International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Assessment of iodine deficiency disorders and monitoring their elimination. 3rd ed. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 2007.

[5] Smyth PP (July 2003). “The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer”. Breast Cancer Research: BCR (review) 5 (5): 235–8. doi:10.1186/bcr638PMC 314438PMID 12927031.

[6] Smyth PP (2003). “Role of iodine in antioxidant defence in thyroid and breast disease” .BioFactors (Oxford, England) (review) 19 (3–4): 121–30. doi:10.1002/biof.5520190304.PMID 14757962.

[7] Shrivastava, A. (2006). “Molecular Iodine Induces Caspase-independent Apoptosis in Human Breast Carcinoma Cells Involving the Mitochondria-mediated Pathway”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 281 (28): 19762–19771. doi:10.1074/jbc.M600746200ISSN 0021-9258.PMID 16679319.

[8] Golkowski, F.; Szybinski, Z.; Rachtan, J.; Sokolowski, A.; Buziak-Bereza, M.; Trofimiuk, M.; Hubalewska-Dydejczyk, A.; Przybylik-Mazurek, E.; Huszno, B. (2007). “Iodine prophylaxis—the protective factor against stomach cancer in iodine deficient areas”. Eur J Nutr. 46 (5): 251–6.doi:10.1007/s00394-007-0657-8PMID 17497074.

[9] Abnet, C. C.; Fan, J. H.; Kamangar, F; Sun, X. D.; Taylor, P. R.; Ren, J. S.; Mark, S. D.; Zhao, P. et al. (2006). “Self-reported goiter is associated with a significantly increased risk of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma in a large population-based Chinese cohort”. International Journal of Cancer 119 (6): 1508–1510. doi:10.1002/ijc.21993PMID 16642482.

[10] Behrouzian, R.; Aghdami, N. (2004). “Urinary iodine/creatinine ratio in patients with stomach cancer in Urmia, Islamic Republic of Iran”. East Mediterr Health J. 10 (6): 921–924.PMID 16335780.


[12] Kessler JH. The effect of supraphysiologic levels of iodine on patients with cyclic mastalgia. Breast J. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):328-336.



[15] Felig, Philip; Frohman, Lawrence A. (2001). “Endemic Goiter”. Endocrinology & metabolism. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-022001-0.



Ten Reasons to Choose Plant Protein Over Whey Protein

  1. Whey protein linked to cancer promotion:

The hormone IGF-1 only occurs in animal protein, one of the best sources being protein from cow’s milk. IGF-1 has been shown to promote cancer cell growth in humans.[1]  Studies show that increased levels of IGF-1 lead to increased growth of existing cancer cells.[1] Dietary interventions and modifications such as vegan diets have been shown to down regulate (make less of) IGF-1 and have been associated with lower risk of cancer.[2]  It has been proven that people with exceptionally low levels of IGF-1 (Laron syndrome) are resistant to cancer.[3][4][5][6]   IGF-1 does not occur in plant protein and plant protein has not been shown to promote cancer growth.

  1. Whey protein linked to aggravation of acne:

According to studies, healthy male adults may develop acne after the consumption of whey protein. The studies indicate that dairy protein enhances IGF-1 and acne aggravation.[7][8] Plant protein has not been linked to acne.

  1. Whey protein linked to flatulence, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, nausea and rumbling stomach:

Seventy-five percent of all African American, Jewish, Mexican American, and Native American adults are lactose intolerant.[9] Both whey concentrate and whey isolate contain lactose.[10]  However, whey concentrates contain higher amounts of lactose.  Lactose intolerant people will suffer a variety of digestive issues which may include abdominal bloating, cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and a rumbling stomach.[11]   Lactose only occurs in dairy protein and does not occur in plant protein.

  1. Whey protein may cause constipation:

Numerous studies concluded that constipation in children can have an allergic pathogenesis to whey and other dairy proteins.[12][13][14] Plant protein has not been linked to constipation.

  1. Whey protein can dangerously lower blood sugar:

Whey protein has been shown to lower blood sugar.[15] Caution is advised for people with diabetes or low blood sugar and in those taking drugs that affect blood sugar. According to Mayo Clinic, blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional and medication adjustments may be necessary for those consuming whey protein.[16] Plant protein has not been shown to have effects on blood sugar.

  1. Whey protein may cause abnormal heart rhythms:

According to Mayo Clinic, whey protein may cause abnormal heart rhythms.[16]  Plant protein has not been shown to effect heart rhythms.

  1. Whey protein may cause headaches:

According to Mayo Clinic, whey protein may cause headaches. [16] Plant protein has not been linked to headaches.

  1. Whey protein may increase the risk of diabetes:

According to Mayo Clinic, whey protein may increase the risk of diabetes. [16] Plant protein has not been linked to increased risk of diabetes.

  1. Whey protein may increase the risk of bleeding:

According to Mayo Clinic, whey protein may increase the risk of bleeding.[16] Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or in those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary. Plant protein has not been shown to increase the risk of bleeding.

  1. Whey protein may cause drowsiness:

According to Mayo Clinic, drowsiness or sedation may occur when consuming whey protein. They advise using caution if driving or operating heavy machinery. Plant protein has not been linked to drowsiness or sedation.[16]


 [1] Arnaldez F, Helman L (June 2012). "Targeting the insulin growth factor receptor 1". Hematol. Oncol. Clin. North Am. 26 (3): 527–42, vii–viii.doi: 10.1016/j.hoc.2012.01.004PMC 3334849PMID 22520978.

[2] McCarty M (1999). "Vegan proteins may reduce risk of cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease by promoting increased glucagon activity". Med. Hypotheses 53 (6): 459–85. doi:10.1054/mehy.1999.0784.PMID 10687887.

[3] Gallagher E, LeRoith D (April 2011). "Is growth hormone resistance/IGF-1 reduction good for you?". Cell Metab. 13 (4): 355–6.doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2011.03.003PMID 21459318.

[4]  Guevara-Aguirre, J; Balasubramanian, P; Guevara-Aguirre, M; Wei, M; Madia, F; Cheng, CW; Hwang, D; Martin-Montalvo, A et al. (2011). "Growth Hormone Receptor Deficiency Is Associated with a Major Reduction in Pro-Aging Signaling, Cancer, and Diabetes in Humans". Science Translational Medicine 3 (70): 70ra13.doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3001845PMC 3357623.PMID 21325617.

[5] Bai, Nina. "Defective Growth Gene in Rare Dwarfism Disorder Stunts Cancer and Diabetes". Scientific American. Retrieved17 February 2011.

[6] Winerman, Lea. "Study: Dwarfism Gene May Offer Protection From Cancer, Diabetes"PBS. Retrieved 17 February 2011.

[7] Dermatology. 2012; 225(3):256-8. doi: 10.1159/000345102. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

[8] Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011; 67: 131-45. doi: 10.1159/000325580. E pub 2011 Feb 16. PMID: 21335995 

[9] Lactose Intolerance". Johns Hopkins Health Library. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 

[10] General guidelines for milk allergy". Oregon Health & Science University.

[11] Lactose Intolerance". National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). NIDDK. Retrieved 29 November 2011.

[12] Davidson, M, Kugler, MM, Baue, CH. Diagnosis and management in children with severe and protracted constipation and obstipation. J PEDIATR. 1963;62:261–275.

[13] Lothe, L, Lindberg, T. Cow's milk whey protein elicits symptoms of infantile colic in colicky formula-fed infants: a double- blind, crossover study. Pediatrics. 1989;83:262–266.

[14] Abrahamian, FP, Lloyd-Still, JD. Chronic constipation in childhood: a longitudinal study of 186 patients. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3:460–467.

[15] J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Jan;25(1):36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.08.012. Epub 2013 Oct 5.