Expert Advice From Louise O’Connor, Australian Naturopath + Wellness Coach { About the book }

Is It Safe To Take Iodine When You Have Hashimotos Disease?

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is iodine safe to take when you have hashimotosWhen you spend some time online researching the question “is it safe to take iodine when you have Hashimotos” you will soon realize there are conflicting opinions, and information about how much iodine is safe to take.

If are feeling confused, you are not alone. It can be a challenge making sense of it all. For this reason I would like to answer this important question from my Naturopathic perspective.

Firstly let’s take a look at some facts that we all know to be true

+ Your body does not make iodine. Consequently, this mineral must be derived from the diet or from an iodine supplement.

+ Your thyroid requires a constant supply as iodine is an essential component of your thyroid hormones.

+ Nutrient rich blood continuously circulates through your thyroid so iodine is simply absorbed as required.

+ About 80% of your body’s iodine stores are held in your thyroid.

+ When your thyroid has enough iodine it stops absorbing iodine from the blood supply.

+ This mineral is normally only required in trace amounts. Adverse effects are more likely when excessive amounts are taken.

+ Iodine deficiency is a common world health problem.

+ Iodine is critical to overall health, not just the thyroid. For example, iodine plays a role in the immune response, is essential for normal growth and development of a developing baby, and is particularly important to safeguard breast and prostate health.

+ In Australia, iodine supplements, or thyroid supplements that contain iodine usually supply microgram, not milligram quantities of iodine.

+ A microgram measurement of iodine is routinely abbreviated as ‘mcg’ or ‘µg’.

+ It’s important to know 1000 micrograms equals 1 milligram.

+ The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the US Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both set the safe upper level of intake from all sources at 1,100 micrograms (1.1 mg) daily.

+ Hashimoto’s disease is a complex autoimmune thyroid problem. It’s associated with chronic inflammation which over time can lead to destruction of the thyroid gland.

There is no evidence to suggest that iodine alone will solve a complex thyroid disorder such as Hashimoto’s

It’s true, iodine alone will not help heal your thyroid. However it is still an important nutrient for day to day function of the thyroid.

If your iodine stores get too low this will place further pressure on your thyroid. Taking what is considered a safe amount of iodine is usually necessary to support ongoing thyroid hormone activity.

Single iodine may not be the solution

Iodine is ideally best taken in combination with selenium. In fact, selenium is an important nutrient to consider if you have a diagnosed autoimmune thyroid disorder.

  • Ongoing research shows selenium can help reduce raised thyroid specific antibodies. This is promising research for those with Hashimoto’s.
  • Selenium helps reduce the risk of iodine aggravating your thyroid if you did opt to take a sudden and excessive amount of iodine. When I hear someone with Hashimoto’s report a bad experience with iodine it does raise two key questions in my mind. Did they take too much? Were they also low in selenium?

A good quality thyroid health formula contains both iodine and selenium. The nutritional panel or supplement facts section on a label is the best place to check the amount of iodine and selenium. You may already know that here in Australia nutritional companies are not permitted to recommend more than 300 micrograms of iodine, and 150 micrograms of selenium per day for adults.

Your take home message: not too much, not too little

It’s a myth that any amount of iodine is dangerous when you have Hashimoto’s. In truth, it’s really about balanced intake. The controversy is centered on how much iodine is safe to take. Studies do indeed confirm taking iodine well above what is generally recommended can trigger an autoimmune reaction, particularly if selenium is in short supply.

Yes, you can get too much of a good thing and opting to take extreme amounts of iodine may be harmful when you have diagnosed Hashimoto’s disease. An iodine overload could actually cause a flare up, and worsen your hypothyroid symptoms. As with any type of autoimmune condition tissue destruction is at an all time high when you experience a flare up.

In summary…is it safe to take iodine when you have Hashimotos?

+ Iodine supplements can help prevent and treat an iodine deficiency.

+ Iodine supports ongoing thyroid hormone production and is normally only required in trace amounts to be effective.

+ Selenium is a mineral that safeguards your thyroid. Adequate selenium intake can also reduce the risk of iodine aggravating your thyroid if you opted to take excessive amounts.

+ When you are taking a prescribed thyroid medication your medical practitioner can advise if an iodine supplement will be suitable for you.


References

Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MoH). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Iodine. Link.

Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: an evidence-based guide, 3rd ed. Iodine Monograph. Page 614-622. Churchill Livingstone. 2007.

Leung AM, Pearce EN, Braverman LE. Sufficient iodine intake during pregnancy: just do it.Thyroid. 2009 Sep;19(9):1019-20.

National Institutes of Health (NIH). Medline Plus. Herbs and Supplements. Iodine monograph. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA. Updated 2 January 2013.

National Institutes of Health (NIH). Office of Dietary Supplements. USA. Iodine. Fact Sheet For Consumers. Reviewed: June 24, 2011. Link.

Patrick L. Iodine: deficiency and therapeutic considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):116-127.

The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Link

Thorne Research. Iodine Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep;15(3):273-8.


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Comments

  1. Great article thanks Louse – just one question, would your TSH be elevated if you were taking iodine?
    I was on it through naturopath, my TSH continued to go high, my iodine levels kept dropping? weird. I have stopped
    taking it right now and going to get new bloods this week. Love all your info. Thanks again 🙂

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Kaz, TSH blood levels can rise when single iodine is taken well above the tolerable upper limit. Does your Naturopath prescribe ThyroSynergy? This thyroid product contains three important minerals to support thyroid hormone activity; iodine, selenium and zinc. When taken as recommended ThyroSynergy supplies iodine and selenium at levels that are generally considered safe.

  2. Janice Collins says:

    Hi Louise, your article doesn’t state how much selenium to take with the iodine. I have purchased Cabot Health’s thyroid health capsules. 1 capsule per day contains
    533mg of kelp (providing 160mcg iodine
    Selenium (selenomethionine) 100mcg
    Cholecalciferol (D3) 1000iu
    Zinc ad sulfate 5mg
    Is this a good supplement?

  3. Louise O'Connor says:

    Hi Janice, the studies on women with high thyroid antibodies used between 200-250 micrograms of selenium daily. In Australia nutritional companies are not permitted to recommend more than 150 micrograms of selenium per day from a health supplement.

    I developed and released a thyroid product around three years ago. ThyroSynergy thyroid health formula is available in health food stores around Australia and on the official ThyroSynergy website. You will see it is a comprehensive formula that contains 10 ingredients to support thyroid health. http://thyrosynergy.com/thyrosynergy-ingredients/.

    It is best to only take D3 as required. I suggest you check D3 levels when you perform your regular thyroid function tests.

  4. Jacqueline Chay says:

    Hi Louise – I am considering taking your thyrosynergy but on my last blood test I had an excess of RBC Folate (2195 !) I am worried about the high levels of this and notice your supplement contains Folate. I have no idea how to reduce my levels of folate – my Dr says it will not harm me, but anything that much out of whack is not alright with me.
    Regards Jackie
    Add: I have Hahis but my antibody count has come down (121) since starting selenium and iodine. My T3/RT3 ratio is 1.25 Free T4 13.6 – I do not take any thyroid medications. I have Bradicardia and low body temp. I also have Pyrolle

  5. Louise O'Connor says:

    Hi Jacqueline, there can be a number of reasons why your RBC folate is raised. I hope you also had your B12 checked as these two nutrients work closely together in the body. In regards to taking ThyroSynergy it is best to check with your doctor. They can make a recommendation based on your personal health issues esp as you have a pyrrole disorder. It is worth noting that ThyroSynergy contains the bioactive form of folate called folinic acid. Most supplements contain the synthetic form called folic acid. Folinic acid is generally considered the better form of folate. Bradycardia is often linked to low free T3 as T3 is efficient at keeping the heart beating at a normal rate. I like to see free T3 above 4.5 pmol/L as this can take the strain off the heart.

  6. Liliana Mildred says:

    Hi Louise, Would it be safe to take thyroSynergy together with Thyroxine 75mcg medication for Hoshimoto disease?

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Liliana, as you are taking thyroxine (T4) medication it’s best to speak to your medical practitioner. They can assess if suitable for you after discussing your medical history, your current thyroid blood test results, current thyroxine dose, and they will also take into account other nutritional supplements you are taking. It’s a good idea to take along a list of ingredients so your practitioner can see what ThyroSynergy Advanced contains and at what levels. Generally speaking the zinc and selenium may be useful. These two minerals team up to provide nutritional support to assist conversion of T4 to its more active form triiodothyronine (T3). Adequate T3 activity can make a real difference to how you feel. Best wishes, Louise

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