by Dr. Bryan Warner
Iodine deficiency has been called “The Silent Epidemic.” That’s because it doesn’t arrive like a bolt from the blue. It sort of sneaks up on you, quietly.
And although iron deficiency is the number one cause of an underactive thyroid, the symptoms tend to be rather vague ― complaints such as unexplained weight gain, low energy and fatigue, fuzzy thinking, digestive problems, depression, loss of libido, hair loss and troubled sleep.
Without testing, arriving at a specific diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be difficult. As a result, the number of people with a low-performing thyroid is significantly underestimated, so it’s often untreated.
Official estimates put the number of Americans with hypothyroidism at around 13 million and those with a thyroid problem at 59 million.
However, I believe the true figure of people with iodine deficiency and subpar thyroid functioning is much greater ― around half or more of the over-30 population. That would put it in the range of around 178 million Americans.
That exceeds the number of Americans afflicted with diabetes by a wide margin, but it’s diagnosed far less frequently.
The underdiagnosis of iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism is a serious health problem. If these conditions are unaddressed and allowed to continue uncorrected, the impact on health can be enormous.
Iodine deficiency leads not only to all the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism mentioned above but also to heart disease, obesity, infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths, brain damage, mental retardation in adults and children, and more.
Iodine is one of the most important trace minerals your body needs, but over the past 40 years, iodine deficiency has quadrupled. You can’t manufacture iodine in your body, so you have to get it through your diet, but that can be difficult.
It used to be found in soil and could be taken up in plants, but today, the soil is largely depleted. It’s still abundant in seawater, but relatively few people in the U.S. regularly consume saltwater seafood or sea vegetables.
By fluoridating and chlorinating drinking and bathing water, spraying produce with pesticides, adding potassium bromate to baked goods and saturating our environment with toxic chemicals, we’ve also destroyed our bodies’ ability to absorb iodine. The cells in our thyroid, brain, breasts and skin take up these chemicals instead of iodine.
In 1924, salt manufacturers in this country adopted a practice from the Swiss of adding iodine to their salt. For many years, this provided a reliable source of iodine to American diets. Today, however, table salt no longer contains enough iodine to meet minimum requirements.
Iodine is essential to efficient metabolism.
If you don’t get enough iodine, just finding the energy to get through the day is difficult. Your thyroid will reduce production of T3 and T4 hormones, so your metabolism will slow, as will your ability to convert oxygen and calories from food into energy. As a result, all bodily functions slow.
Most symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, over a period of years. The appearance of symptoms matches the rate of metabolism decline ― the slower the metabolism, the more severe the symptoms. Untreated, this process of degeneration can lead to serious manifestations such as dementia.
Iodine has been shown to reverse the effects of iodine deficiency. I recommend supplementation with Designs for Health’s Iodine Synergy or Thyroid PX from Restorative Formulations, a division of WTSmed, Inc. You can order either of these from our St. Louis BodyLogicMD office at 314.735.0780.
However, supplementation alone may not be enough.
I also recommend the following to boost iodine levels or avoid iodine depletion:
Bromide and fluoride, which are toxic, attach to your iodine receptors. These will not break down, and your body cannot expel them. Because they prevent the action of iodine and thyroid hormones, they can result in many serious diseases.
Juntti, M. Why you need iodine ― and how to get enough. Deliciousliving. http://deliciousliving.com/ nutrition/why-you-need-iodine-and-how-get-enough. June 27, 2014.
Mercola, J. Iodine Deficiency: Signs Symptoms, and Solutions for Poor Thyroid Function. Mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/20/signs-symptoms-and-solutions-for-poor-thyroid-function.aspx. Oct. 20, 2009.
Piccone, N. The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency. Life Extension Magazine. http://www.lifeextension. com/magazine/2011/10/The-Silent-Epidemic. Oct. 2011.
Shomon, M. Risk Factors, Signs, and Symptoms of a Thyroid Condition. Verywell. https://www.verywell. com/thyroid-symptoms-risk-factors-4013. Aug. 11, 2016.
Tims-Lawson, V. Iodine shortage to blame for your thyroid woes? Easy Health Digest. http:// easyhealthoptions.com/iodine-shortage-blame-thyroid-woes/. Mar. 17, 2017
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