14 Jan

Children and Iodine

Before I begin this post I want to stress that the information I will share with you is based on the experience I had with my own children who are under the care of a very qualified iodine and thyroid literate doctor.  Please do not take this information and apply it to your children.  We have done lab tests to evaluate their specific nutritional needs as they have grown.  What we did will not represent what is needed for all children.  



As I began to research iodine for children, my journey began with pregnancy.  There was a lot of talk of cretinism which is what occurs in severely iodine deficient states resulting in mental retardation.  While I appreciated this information and understood the danger, I wanted to know about the reality of what we were facing in a deficient country that was not producing these severe cases.  What was happening from our deficient state that maybe we were not recognizing as iodine deficiency.  What I found was that my gut instincts were right.  Once again pharmaceutical drugs were being used on children who had underlying nutritional deficiencies.

Let’s talk a little about pregnancy.  A mother who is iodine deficient prior to becoming pregnant, more than likely has a sub-optimal functioning thyroid.  When a woman is first pregnant, the baby’s thyroid gland is not functional so it draws off the mothers thyroid hormones until the 3rd tri-mester.  A deficient mother leaves the child deficient and unable to develop from a neurological perspective.  Research studies I have read stress the importance of obtaining enough iodine prior to the end of the 2nd trimester or irreparable damage occurs.   Myelin sheath development requires iodine sufficiency.  Japanese women on average consume approximately 12-13 mgs / day of iodine via sea veggies.  Based on this standard the Iodine doctors agreed at the 2007 Iodine Conference that this could be used as an acceptable amount for those beginning supplementing for the first time during pregnancy and lactation.

What is the result of iodine deficiency more commonly seen in our 1st world countries?  First, I believe that there are many un-diagnosed hypothyroid children.  Symptoms of a hypothyroid children (based on my own experience and that of others I have talked to with confirmed diagnoses) include:  slow growth, cold / under blankets even when 80 degrees, low tolerance to change, frequent “meltdowns”, crying uncontrollably for seemingly no reason, thin body type, bed-wetting, and the inability to focus or sit still (ADD/ ADHD).

The following image is of a spelling test my son took when he was in 2nd grade.  He was diagnosed hypothyroid when he was in 1st grade (7 yrs old).  He was 8 yrs old at the time of this test.  He was going through a growth spurt.  We had a parent / teachers conference when the test on the left was presented to us with concern from the teacher.  He was a good speller and rarely missed more than one word.  On this test he missed 6.  We increased his thyroid hormone 1/4 grain and then 8 days later I had him take the test again.  We did not review one word.  This clearly demonstrates the importance of proper thyroid function.  The sad thing is that he was being labeled as ADD / ADHD.  It wasn’t.  It was an iodine deficiency combined with low thyroid.  You can see the brain fog confusion that so many of us have experienced.

Spelling Test

My children were diagnosed with a thyroid problem when they were 4 and 7 yrs old.  Their body temperatures were registering at 96.1 (4yr old daughter) and 95.7 (7 yr old son).  Basal body temperatures should be 97.8 or higher when thyroid levels are optimal.

I should probably back up a bit and share why my children ended up in crisis.  I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 4 months after my son was born.  In the pictures taken of me and my son shortly after his birth, you can clearly see a goiter with a nodule.  So while I was pregnant with him I was low thyroid, had hashimotos and was toxic in mercury and bromide.  By the time I had my daughter 2 1/2 years later I had been treated with 2 rounds of radioactive iodine (one with a low iodine diet) which left me very depleted.

Now for what we did.  Dr Brownstein writes about children in chapter 10 of the 5th edition of his Iodine Why You Need it Why You Can’t Live Without It book.  His recommendation for dosing is 0.11 mg/lb/day (0.25 mg/kg/day) adding that appropriate laboratory testing should accompany this prior to starting supplementation.

We started both of my children on 6.25 mgs of Iodoral.  I crushed the tablets in applesauce.  We added the following supplements to the iodine.

Selenium (methylselenocystine)  100 mcg  3x / week
Vitamin C – Metagenics Ultra Potent C chewable – 1 / day
Magnesium – came from their multivitamin.  We used Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries
Course Ground Salt – Celtic Sea Salt – I placed it in dipping cups and they ate and used as they desired.
We added DHA Fish Oils for my son to help with his attention issues.

For small children – I have a great new product form Hakala Research.  It is a 3.125 mg chewable tablet.

At the age of 9 years my son continued to struggle with focus and behavior.  We decided to do a 24 hour loading test.  When we ran it, the bromide levels showed that he was at 45 mgs / L with toxic being any level over 5 mg / L.  His levels rivaled the breast cancer patients test we were running that day.  Unfortunately we made a mistake in the lab and did not obtain his saturation levels.  Based on this toxicity we decided to increase him to 25 mgs where he stayed until this year right before his 16th birthday when we increased him to 37.5 mgs.

Both of my children (13 and 16 yrs)  are on 37.5 mgs.  They continue to take selenium and a multivitamin.  I don’t have any recommendations for teens at this point because I am struggling with their inability to swallow pills so I am searching for a high quality and potency option.  I have not found anything I am thrilled with.  Their protocol is based on their own specific needs based on laboratory values so I will refrain from sharing what they take.  They are basically adult dosing now since they are both adult size.

Is there hope for children who did not get iodine in the womb?  Yes there is.  Children 2 and under receive the most benefit.  But children and adults of all ages can also benefit from this element.  It may not increase IQ’s but it can help the cells in our body to remain healthy and happy.

Please make sure that you read the previous blogs on the topic of iodine.
You can also join the Facebook Iodine group for additional support.

For further reading consider:

Dietary Iodine:  Why are so many mothers not getting enough?
The influence of components of diet on the symptoms of ADHD in children
Reflections on mental retardation and congenital hypothyroidism:  effects of trace mineral deficiencies

06 Jan

Bromide Blocks Iodine

Today’s blog will address the issues we are facing with bromide toxicity.  If you haven’t read the previous blogs on Iodine please go back and read through them so that you have a clear understanding of the big picture.

Bromide is a toxic halide that competes with the absorption of iodine in the body.  When the body is in an iodine deficient state it attempts to substitute other halides such as bromide and fluoride to fit its needs.  This doesn’t work out well.  If you think of a lock and key mechanism, you can put the key in but you cannot turn it.  The same happens for the Sodium Iodine Symporter (NIS) trying to take in a replacement halide.  It just doesn’t work well and often becomes stuck on the receptor which blocks any iodine that may try to come in.  It takes high levels of iodine flooding the body to displace the toxic halides with the good one.


Historically bromide has been used in products that were sedatives and anti-convulsants.  They were sold under names like Bromo-Seltzer and Dr Miles’ Nervine.  Nervine is the name of a plant that had a positive impact on the nervous system, however the main ingredient in this product was bromide.  This product as well as Bromo-seltzer (removed from the market in 1975) were touted as safe and effective ways to calm nerves and handle headaches.  The issue with both products is that over consumption could lead to bromism which creates abnormal conditions with psychiatric, neurological, gastrointestinal, and dermatological symptoms.


Today, bromide is found in many common items.  It is in electronics, furniture, mattresses, automobiles from PBDEs which is a flame retardant.  You can find it on thermal paper, plastics, bakery products, pesticides, sports drinks, sodas, hair dye, inhalers & other rx medication as well as in hot tubs as a sanitizer, to name a few.  It seems to be everywhere.  We are bombarded in our deficient state.  Do you see how it all comes together to form the perfect symphony for disease?

One of the things that happens when individuals begin to take iodine is bromide detox.  The iodine introduced into the body will begin to push it out.  This is the point where most stop taking iodine because they don’t understand what is happening  and mistake it for iodine toxicity.  The key is knowing how to deal with it.  Here is a list of some common bromide detox symptoms.

Headaches Constipation / Diarrhea Aching Joints
Acne Cloudy Urine Aching Muscles
Fatigue Sleepiness Rash
Tremors Impaired Memory/Concentration Color perception disturbance
Irritability Abnormal skin pigmentation Slurred speech
Emotional instability Hair loss Vision changes
Cherry Angiomas Depression Runny Nose
Reflex changes Schizophrenic like actions Metallic Taste
Hallucinations Eyelid twitching Dream Changes
Increased salivation Anxiety Kidney pain
Dry mouth Body Odor Increased Sweating

*This list is quoted from “Gulflink Military document – Chapter on Bromism”

If you take a close look at this list you will notice that the majority of the detox symptoms also mimic the list of iodine toxicity.  The curious thing about this is that when the detox pathways are supported and salt water is consumed (the antidote to bromide toxicity), the symptoms on this list tend disappear signifying that it was not iodine toxicity.  Many a person has reported that their doctors tried to scare them into stopping when complaining about these symptoms.

This is why the supporting nutrients outlined in the guide are important.  They help the body to adequately deal with detox issues.  If your body is really toxic then you may need to put further protocols into place.  There are some strategies outlined in the guide to supplementing.  You can download a free copy here.

** UPDATE**  I have received some concerned posts over other blogs stating that chocolate is high in bromine.  These individuals are misinformed.  Chocolate contains THEOBROMINE which is an alkaloid of the cacao plant.  It is not a halide.  Go ahead and eat your chocolate.

05 Jan

Hypothyroidism, Hashi’s and Iodine

It has been known for many years that a lack of iodine can create a goiter.  What is a goiter you ask?  A goiter is the swelling of the thyroid gland in an attempt to capture more iodine from the blood stream in a deficient state.  Goiter is more common in 3rd world countries where overall nutrition  is lacking.  We saw it in the United States prior to the addition of iodized salt into the American diet.  The image below represents a goiter in a child.  The next image is a severe case.  The fear of iodine has instituted the reemergence of goiter in our modern society.  Look around you.  You will begin to see it especially in women.

Goiter large

The picture below is me in 1999 when my son (my first) was born.  No one noticed the nodule on my neck combined with the goiter.    It turned into thyroid cancer.  I believe it could have been avoided.

Dawson birth

Supplementation with iodine will work to eliminate goiters.  But what about other thyroid conditions?  In this blog we will consider hypothyroidism, hashimotos, and thyroid cancer.  Hyperthyroidism and graves will be covered in a future blog. These diseases all share a common issue – Iodine deficiency – while the symptoms manifest in different ways.

Hypothyroidism is defined as the body’s inability to produce sufficient thyroid hormones.  The hypothalamus creates thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) which acts upon the pituitary gland to regulate the release of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).   Thyroid hormone creation is stimulated by the TSH action on the thyroid gland.   The pituitary gland bombards the thyroid with this hormone when it gets behind telling it to make more.  The higher the TSH lab number the more there is an indication that it is screaming at the gland “I NEED HORMONES NOW”.   The TSH hormone also stimulates the Sodium Iodine Symporters (NIS) to take in iodine when the follicular cells “see” it pass by in the blood.  Once inside the thyroid cell, the iodine is acted upon by several chemical processes and is bound to tyrosine and thyroglobulin to form Thyroxine (T4) and Tri-iodothyronine (T3).  The thyroid gland creates 20% of the T3 directly in the thyroid gland.  The remaining 80% is converted from T4 in the liver and kidneys.  T3 is the active metabolic hormone.  If iodine is not supplied in sufficient amounts, then hormone levels fall and the entire body spirals into illness.

Another complication to hypothyroidism is an autoimmune form called Hashimotos which was named for Dr Hashimoto in Japan, who discovered the disease.  Hashimotos is diagnosed by lab tests measuring thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg Ab).  The first antibody, TPO, is an attack against the oxidation process where iodine is converted to iodide and bound to the proteins for hormone creation.  The Tg Ab is an attack on the thyroglobulin protein.  Both hormone synthesis processes can be seen in the diagram below.


Why does the body create antibodies?  For more information on why the body attacks itself in an autoimmune disease please visit this page from the NIH.  Basically it is a sign that something has gone wrong and is out of balance.  Many things can contribute to autoimmune thyroid disease (AIT).  One of the key elements is a lack of iodine.

When the oxidation process occurs in the follicle colloid, hydrogen peroxide acts upon iodine to change it to iodide which is when it iodinates the proteins.  When iodine is missing the body attempts to make thyroid hormones but the main component is missing.  It is believed that in a deficient state the oxidation continues out of control which causes inflammation and damage to the cells.  The body views the cells as an invader because they are not normal and creates antibodies to attack it.  The key to combating this is in iodine supplementation.  When supplied in amounts 100x the RDA (.150 mgs) or more, iodolipids are created which is the control mechanism on the oxidation process in the cells.  The increase iodine level not only allows for hormone creation but also iodolipid creation.  What the exact value in milligrams is to create this “brake” reaction is not definable.  There are too many variables for each individual to predict.  At this point it is a matter of trial followed by laboratory testing to determine the appropriate amount.  The diagram below shows iodine entering the cell and then combining with Tg and being acted upon by TPO.


Now lets assume that hashimotos goes undetected or untreated and no iodine is supplied.  The thyroid struggles and struggles to keep up.  The person must keep moving so the body now draws off of the adrenals to pick up the slack.  But the adrenals are the sprinters and not the marathon runners and they will eventually crash and burn resulting in complete adrenal fatigue.  These glands also need iodine and since the thyroid is grabbing all it can they are left deficient too.

Inside the thyroid gland, the TPO, Tg or both types of antibodies are attacking the gland.  This results in more and more damage that can develop into nodules on the gland.  At first they can be benign in nature but eventually they run the risk of becoming malignant in the form of thyroid cancer.  There are several forms of thyroid cancer;  Papillary, Follicular, and Medullary being the most common.  Papillary and Follicular are treated using radioactive iodine (RAI) because the cancer cells will take up the iodine and be killed.  Medullary thyroid cancer originates in the “C” cells of the thyroid which is where calcitonin is created.  This form of thyroid cancer seems to be unrelated to iodine status although the maintenance of normal cell structure is part of iodine’s “job” in the body so it may play a role.

I mentioned in passing that RAI was used for the treatment of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer.  It is used because the goal of the treatment is to kill off any remaining thyroid and cancer cells after a total thyroidectomy.  They then use the Tg levels to monitor if there is cancer or not (assuming that RAI killed all the cells off) because only these cells create the Tg protein.  This is great in concept if the cells do, in fact, take up the radioactive iodine.  In my case they did not.  I had 0.2 and 0.3% uptake in my scans.  My doctors reaction each time was to get a bigger stick.  I went from 100 mCi’s to 150 mCi’s and then finally 250 mCi’s in an attempt to beat the cells into submission (aka death) after 3 recurrences.  It did not work.  Endocrinologists call this “iodine resistance”.  I believed my case was hopeless…… but then I met Dr David Brownstein.

The testing Dr Brownstein did on me may have revealed the reason for this resistance.  It was a component that the majority of thyroid disease sufferers are also afflicted with.  It’s bromide poisoning.  When the body is deficient in iodine it attempts to find the next closest halide to replace it.  Most of us are toxic in this halide so our receptors are being blocked by bromide which stops what little iodine that enters the blood stream from being taken into the cells until very large amounts of iodine are supplied.  In my case it took 125 mgs which resulted in 66 mgs / L (toxic = >5 mgs / L) of bromide being release during my 24 hour Iodine Loading test.  We’ll talk about testing in a future post so don’t panic.  I believe that my high toxicity stopped all RAI treatments from working to kill the cells.  Now combine that with the low iodine diets I was forced to do for 6 weeks prior to treatment and then never supplementing to put it back in and you have a recipe for disaster.  The reason I say this is because iodine is needed for the P53 gene.  This gene is called the Keeper of the Genetic Code.  It is needed in the process known as apoptosis (programmed cell death) that occurs when a cell becomes abnormal.  So I was toxic, radiating my body and depleting it of a much needed whole body nutrient.   I believe this was why my cancer kept returning – each time stronger.  It was non-radioactive iodine that was a key component in eliminating my thyroid cancer in 3 years.

Hopefully you can now see why iodine is important in managing thyroid disease.

Next blog:  Bromide toxicity