Believe it or not, iodine is a key player in your thyroid health. It’s actually one of the building blocks of your thyroid hormones. And even though your body is incredibly efficient at absorbing and storing iodine, your thyroid can’t always tell the difference between iodine and other substances with very similar chemical structures.
Iodine is part of the halogen family, which also includes fluorine, chlorine, and bromine. All three are similar enough to iodine that your thyroid will suck them up and store them in place of iodine. With your iodine displaced, your ability to produce thyroid hormones is reduced, which can lead to low thyroid hormone levels and hypothyroidism.
With these chemicals being added to our water, foods, and household products and 20 million Americans estimated to suffer from thyroid disease, I believe this is one of the main reasons thyroid disease is now at an epidemic level. While you probably won’t be able to avoid those chemicals entirely, there are a number of simple lifestyle choices you can make to minimize your exposure, reduce your risk of iodine displacement and make sure you’re getting enough of this crucial element.
Get iodine from your diet and supplements.
Sea vegetables and saltwater fish are both naturally rich in iodine, and can be eaten to boost dietary iodine levels. Organic seaweed such as kelp and nori are great as snacks or in sushi, such as this recipe, Wild-Caught Shrimp Sushi Rolls. Kelp noodles are an excellent gluten-free pasta alternative that are packed with iodine. For a delicious and simple kelp noodle dish, check out our recipe for Kelp Noodle Stir Fry.
I also recommend taking an iodine supplement and/or a high-quality multivitamin that includes iodine. Since your body is really good at finding and storing iodine, you don’t require very much of it. I recommend keeping dietary and supplemental iodine intake between 150 and 450mcg daily.
Some people recommend taking extremely high doses of iodine, up to 50 milligrams, which is over a hundred times the recommended daily dose. I do not recommend this for my own patients because extremely high levels of iodine can actually cause both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, although some practitioners and patients have seen success with the method. If you plan to explore this treatment option, make sure to do it under the supervision of a physician and watch carefully for any signs that your thyroid is reacting poorly.
Filter your water.
You can reduce your chlorine exposure by filtering your water on all of your taps and showerheads. If you spend a lot of time in pools, saltwater pools are a great alternative to chlorinated pools that still allow you to enjoy the summer months. Otherwise, try to keep your chlorinated pool exposure to a minimum and shower afterward using filtered water.
Avoid added fluoride.
Use a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste and stick with green tea (red and black tea contain fluoride) and filtered water for beverages. If you’re concerned about possible additives in your medications, speak to your pharmacist and find the safest solution that works for you. Don’t hesitate to ask!
Avoid flours and baked goods.
You should already be avoiding gluten-containing breads and baked goods because of gluten’s negative effect on your thyroid, but the added bromine is another reason to skip the pastry aisle. If you’re craving a baked dessert, try this recipe for peachy grain-free cobbler.
Since both chlorine and bromine are commonly found in insecticides, your best bet is to choose organic produce and meats. If going fully organic isn’t feasible, use the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list to prioritize the top 12 foods that you should always buy organic.
Skip the plastics.
Reduce your exposure to chlorine and bromine (plastic additives) by using glass or cloth alternatives to plastic products such as food storage containers and water bottles.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.