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How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: More Thyroid Hormone, Please!: How To Get More Iodine Into Your Diet

Post Published: 06 May 2010
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Category: Column, How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass, thyroid nutrition and health column
This post currently has 21 responses. Leave a comment

Depending on your disease and condition — whether hypo or hyper; autoimmune, cancer, nodules, goiter; active or in remission — you may be interested in getting more iodine in your diet.  Iodine is especially hard for us modern peoples to come by, mainly because our soil has been demineralized and is often void of the nutrient.  Also, if we’re eating processed foods that have been manipulated and denatured of their natural vitamins and minerals, we could be iodine deficient.  Although, if you eat wild-caught seafood on a weekly basis, you may be able to acquire adequate iodine for your body.

Iodine is essential in healthy thyroid function because our bodies utilize iodine to create the thyroid hormone.  Without iodine, this hormone cannot be made.  Also, the “Bromide Dominance Theory” goes that many people are iodine-deficient (and therefore have thyroid hormone problems) because of all the bromides in our environment.  Bromides are a class of halides (the same as iodine), and therefore are an endocrine disruptor because they displace iodine in our bodies.

I’ve mentioned before that although our table salt is iodized (in order to get more iodine into the population) table salt is truly a processed food, just like white sugar and white flour; it is nothing as occurs in nature and has been manipulated and had chemicals and heavy metals added.  On the other hand, sea salt is natural, from-the-earth, able to be utilized by our bodies, and does contain natural iodine.  If you’re looking to increase your iodine intake, start by making the simple switch to natural sea salt (I like the Real Salt company).

Recently I’ve started incorporating other sources of iodine into my diet.  Along with weekly seafood and fish (those lowest in mercury!), I have also come across Sea Chips, by the Maine Coast Sea Vegetables company, at my local health food store.  They’re organic corn chips coated in a light dusting of seaweeds and onion powder, which, yes, happens to be very delicious and healthy all-at-once (though not low-glycemic).  According to the site, the chips are, “100% Organic ingredients in a low sodium, ’salty-tasting’ chip with no salt added. Our secret is the sea veggies’ rich amount of mineral salts and trace elements – a serving contains twice as much potassium as sodium, along with magnesium, calcium, iron, etc. Certified organic dulse, kelp, garlic, and onion powders flavor organic stone ground whole corn. Our Sea Chips™ are first baked to minimize frying time and oil content, then lightly fried using certified organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oils that are high in monounsaturates and low in cholesterol. Our suppliers assure us their corn is GMO free…”.

In my new studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (yes, I’m officially a student, on my way to becoming a [holistic] health counselor, yay!) it was suggested to try a seaweed shaker.  This is basically a salt shaker you can find at the health food store that is full of micro seaweed flakes that you can shake onto your food, in place of salt, or simply to add a new dimension of flavor to soups, salads, grains, sauces, and dressings (Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, the same company as aforementioned, also happens to sell these).  I’ve been sprinkling a few shakes (you really don’t need alot) onto my food at one or two meals each day and know that I’m affording my body minerals, vitamins, and of course, iodine.  This is an easy way to add iodine to your diet because it requires nothing more than a shake of your wrist and even if you can’t stand the flavor, chances are, you won’t be able to detect the taste as you would if the dish contained big strips of seaweed.

As always, discern what is best for your health and your unique condition and situation… and, enjoy!

Until Sunday,

Love Always,

Liz

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21 Responses to “How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: More Thyroid Hormone, Please!: How To Get More Iodine Into Your Diet”

  1. Patty Berger says:

    What about those that have had a total thyroidectomy? I wonder if this doesn’t apply because there IS no thyroid to stimulate with the iodine to make thyroid hormone. Is this correct?

  2. Sarah Downing says:

    Hey Liz, very interesting and informative column. I am always confused by the iodine controversy. Whilst our doc tells us that we should avoid iodine if we have autoimmune thyroid disease as it could lead to Hashitoxicosis, I know so many people that have been helped by taking kelp supplements. On the other hand, I have read in one of Mary Shomon’s books that my doctor is not the only one with this view – it seems to be one of these topics that every doctor has a different view on – some say to avoid it, whilst others say to take it as a supplement. I know from something Mary Shomon wrote and also from a friend of mine that not everyone tolerates iodine well and in fact some thyroid patients actually feel worse when exposed to it. That is why I like your last sentence – “As always, discern what is best for your health and your unique condition and situation… and, enjoy!” because this is so very true. Despite what my doc says, I am tempted to at least try a kelp supplement to see how my body reacts. I am also thinking about trying one of Dr Teitelbaum’s energy supplements, which also contains iodine. I think we need to find the healthy balance of complying with our doctors’ instructions whilst not being afraid to try out new things that we have researched if we feel that they might benefit us. I was interested to hear about the iodine shaker – that sounds very practical. I have to admit – seasalt is yummy too and I love it with roughly ground black pepper sprinkled over a caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil – yum!

  3. Amy says:

    I am curious how the seaweed shaker taste?

  4. Amy says:

    Sarah, I use to take kelp supplements and they did not help me. I think they may have made feel worse.I did not know that you should not take kelp if you have hashi’s. My old Nd had me on it. I guess we have to be careful not to have too little or too much.

    And congrats on the holistic health counselor Liz! I think you be fantastic at it!!

  5. Sharper says:

    I keep reading back and forth ideas on this – “you aren’t getting enough Iodine” and “you are getting too much iodine.”

    I guess i can at least take that first step by switching to sea salt and see how that goes.

  6. Kelly N says:

    i was put on a kelp supplement I purchase at GNC. im not too sure if it is helping or not…

  7. Sarah Downing says:

    Amy, interesting to hear your experience. I seem to remember Mary Shomon saying something similar. The thing is I think it is all a very individual thing with iodine and trial and error really. There are obviously many different schools of thought on it and my doctor just represents one of them. I know someone else who took kelp and said it has helped her energy levels.

  8. Lolly says:

    Greart Article Liz although Us Graviens really should avoid Iodine. I did switch to sea salt when first dx and watched everything that passed my lips, I love fish and was unable to eat very much at all as soon as I had some I felt the difference. I am able to eat it again,after having my thyroid removed. I still watch what I eat and still avoid too much Iodine. I can eat more than I used to when I was hyperthyroid and not feel any adverse effects like palpitations, sweats, full feeling in the throat like the thyroid was about to jump out.

    Lolly

  9. Lori says:

    Thanks Liz, it’s good to hear from you and I am VERY excited for you on your new learning adventure.
    I never cared for the taste of salt my whole life and always avoided it, but recently started using Himalayan salt and I am actually acquiring a taste for it. I can’t say I notice anything either way but I take that as a good thing. I ate seaweed sushi wraps for a while (hoping for more energy) and I didn’t notice anything one way or the other with that either, which is why I decided to get the Himalayan salt since it would be easier to just grind it over food.

    The controversy is interesting because the doctors who tell us not to take iodine supplements do not tell us to not eat seaweed/kelp/sea salt, etc. or to not get it from other sources. I think it is an individual thing and with any supplement we add on our own, we need to be on the lookout for any untoward side effects.

  10. Dakota says:

    Interesting, I was always under the impression that people who were taking levothyroxine drugs were to avoid extra supplementation in diet? (avoid iodized salt, etc.) I have Hashis, thankfully under control.

    Best of luck in your studies, I have recently started school for massage certification and I hope to work on my fibro sisters.

  11. Liz Schau says:

    Hey everyone! Thanks for commenting!

    I agree with you all that this topic is so split. On the one hand, people who are iodine deficient can acquire thyroid problems. On the other hand, if someone has too much iodine in their system, they can acquire thyroid problems. My aim in this article isn’t to argue how much iodine, who should take it, or if it’s right for you because I don’t feel comfortable suggesting those specifics to anyone. Just like everything else, I feel most comfortable with us all finding our own balance for ourselves.

    That said, I hope these suggestions are helpful for anyone trying to get more iodine.

    Amy, the seaweed shaker is fabulous! I only shake four or five shakes (a very small amount) onto my salads or pasta, and I literally cannot taste it. I would really suggest it for anyone who doesn’t like the strong taste of seaweed.

  12. Dear Thyroid says:

    Liz, Thanks for jumping in. This topic is absolutely split, which makes it so interesting to discuss.

    Everyone asked great questions and made wonderful points.
    I do agree, that we all have to find the balance that’s right for us – boy is that true! I think that is a lesson we can bring into every area of our lives, to be sure.
    We also tweeted about it, to see if other thyroid/nutrition experts might be interested in sharing their opinion with us, too.
    This column is so awesome because I learn so much about nutrition, and what a vital role it plays in healing and wellness. The power of nutrition is unbelievable. But for Liz, I never would have even thought to look at nutrition differently.

    Thank you, Liz! Your willingness to educate us and challenge our way of thinking is wonderful and very much appreciated.
    xo

  13. Melissa says:

    Thank u Liz

  14. Dear Thyroid says:

    Pattie – You raise a wonderful question, and something that many without a thyroid probably ask. In my opinion, I would consider discussing with your doctor or integrative specialist.

    I’ll see if I can find someone in a similar situation with some knowledge about this to chime in, okay.
    Katie

  15. Dear Thyroid says:

    Sarah – I completely agree with you, it’s a controversy, to be sure. Everyone has a different opinion. I think it really depends on what type of autoimmune disease you have, and what you and your doctor decide.

    Though, sometimes, speaking for myself, I feel that I need to be a guinea pig. However, I’m only comfortable doing that under a doctor’s supervision.
    Great point.

    katie

  16. Dear Thyroid says:

    Amy – In what way did it make you feel worse? Did you notice that your symptoms were exacerbated? Do you feel it had to do with the quantity? Would love to know more.

    Katie

  17. Dear Thyroid says:

    Lolly – For Graves patients and patients with hyperthyroidism, in your opinion, how did/do you know how much iodine to add to your diet? There are varying opinions, of course.

    Like you, being a Graves girl, I avoid iodine. Again, would love to know more about your experience.

    Katie

  18. Dear Thyroid says:

    Lori – you raise an excellent point, as many did regarding iodine and supplements being an individual decision.
    I take so many supplements, for so many different reasons. I make sure all my docs know exactly what I’m taking to ensure there is no interaction with my medication.

    Thanks,
    Katie

  19. Dakota – YOU ARE A GREAT SISTER!

    I wonder if it’s something to ask your doctor about. Although, because there are so many varying opinions from doctors and other experts, perhaps it truly is, as everyone said, an individual choice.

    Thanks,
    Katie

  20. Melissa – Great article, right? Loved it.

  21. HD In Oregon says:

    I asked my endocrinologies if iodine intake after a thyroidectomy is an issue. He told me that the body gets its iodine through the stomach and bowels, and that the loss of the thyroid gland does not cause any problems or imbalances with regards to iodine levels. – I don’t know if too much iodine in ones diet is an issue though.

    HD in Oregon

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