Do You Know Nutrition: Why do we need iodine

March 29, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

By Phylic Canion

I have taken iodine for years and love how I feel when I am taking it. I have so much more energy and my mind seems so clear. Recently, as I went to purchase more, I cannot seem to find it anywhere. What is happening? I am told the demand for iodine in California has risen dramatically since the earthquake in Japan. What is the connection?

Iodine is detected in every organ and tissue in the body, but found in higher levels in the thyroid gland, lung, liver, heart and adrenal glands. The unavailability of iodine is all in response to the reports from Japan, after the earthquake, that damaged nuclear reactors were emitting radiation that could travel across the Pacific Ocean and reach the West Coast.

Here is the connection. The thyroid absorbs iodine from the bloodstream. The thyroid gland cannot distinguish between stable or regular iodine and radioactive iodine and will absorb whatever it can. Most nuclear reactors release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere, which can be absorbed by the body.

According to the American Thyroid Association, when the thyroid cells absorb too much radioactive iodine, it can cause thyroid cancer to develop several years after the exposure. Babies and young children are at higher risk.

When the United States Surgeon General endorsed the idea that the public should stock up on iodine, potassium iodine that is, as a precaution, it provoked fear and an overwhelming demand, which has now left the remainder of the United States' shelves empty.

Just as a footnote, David Brownstein, M.D., states, "If there is enough inorganic, non-radioactive iodine in our bodies, the radioactive fallout has no place to bind in our bodies. Because it has no place to bind, it simply passes through our body. It is important to ensure that we have enough potassium iodine before the fallout hits."

The American hoarding situation is being addressed by manufacturers of potassium iodine, who have stepped up production and, according to news releases that I have received, the product should be back on the shelves again within a couple of weeks.

Note: The next free nutrition class will be at 7 p.m April 11 at Organic Emporium. Call 361-576-2100 to reserve a seat.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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