Iodine Supplementation In People With Hyperthyroidism & Graves Disease

Published October 19 2011

It is assumed by many people, including some medical doctors, that people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease have an excess amount of iodine, and therefore should not supplement with iodine.  The reason for this assumption is because iodine is required for the formation of thyroid hormone.  As a result, since people with hyperthyroid conditions are producing an excess amount of thyroid hormone, many assume that people with these conditions have a sufficient amount of iodine.

The truth is that many people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease have an iodine deficiency.  This of course should be verified through the proper testing, as by no means am I suggesting that everyone with a hyperthyroid condition should supplement with iodine.  Some people don’t have an iodine deficiency, but it’s a big mistake to assume that everyone with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease has a sufficient amount, or an excess amount of iodine.  And this isn’t just based on my own experience with my patients, but others agree with me as well.

In fact, Dr. David Brownstein has done a lot of research on iodine, and has actually written an entire book on iodine.  The title is “Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”.  It’s actually a very interesting book, and Dr. Brownstein’s research does show that many people with hyperthyroidism do have an iodine deficiency.  Other research studies confirm this, and for anyone who is looking to restore their health by following a natural treatment protocol, correcting an iodine deficiency is essential.

How To Determine If You Have An Iodine Deficiency

There are a few different ways to determine whether someone has an iodine deficiency:

1. One sample urine test. Most medical doctors will perform a one-sample urine test, which isn’t the most accurate type of test.  So while it’s better than not doing any type of testing at all, one can’t go by this test alone when trying to determine if someone has an iodine deficiency.

2. Iodine patch test. This test involves taking a 2% tincture of iodine and drawing a 2 x 2 patch on your forearm or inner thigh.  For someone who is iodine sufficent the patch shouldn’t disappear for at least 24 hours.  If it disappears in less than 24 hours then the person has an iodine deficiency.  If the patch disappears in 12 hours or less then they have a severe deficiency. This definitely isn’t the most accurate test to determine an iodine deficiency, although it can give a general idea as to whether someone has a mild or severe deficiency.

3. 24-hour iodine loading test. This is perhaps the most accurate test to determine whether someone has an iodine deficiency.  This test involves the person ingesting a tablet of iodine/iodide, and then collecting their urine for a period of 24 hours.  What’s measured is the amount of iodine excreted during the 24 hours.  The person ideally should excrete at least 90% of the iodine/iodide consumed.  If they excrete less than this then they have an iodine deficiency.

Correcting An Iodine Deficiency In People With Hyperthyroidism & Graves’ Disease

Once it is determined that someone has an iodine deficiency, the obvious solution is to have them supplement with iodine.  However, one needs to be careful when doing this.  Although most people do fine when supplementing with iodine, it’s still wise to begin with a small dosage of iodine.  Some doctors will recommend 25mg or more immediately, but I was taught to give a 3mg dosage initially, and then to slowly increase this.  And this is the protocol I personally followed when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, as I began taking one 3mg tablet of iodine daily, and then increased the dosage until I was taking 24mg of iodine daily.  Some people need less than this, while some need to take more.

It’s important to understand that iodine competes with bromine, and many people have a bromine toxicity.  The reason why this is important to understand is because when someone begins taking iodine, the body will excrete bromine from the body.  This sometimes can lead to symptoms of detoxification, and while some people will attribute these symptoms to taking the iodine, it is actually due to the excretion of bromine.  So some people will feel bad upon taking iodine and then stop taking it, when it wasn’t the iodine itself that made them experience the symptoms, but the excretion of bromine.  This is yet another reason why people should begin supplementing with a small amount of iodine initially.

In summary, many people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease are deficient in iodine.  There are numerous methods of testing for an iodine deficiency, but an iodine loading test is the most accurate way.  If it is determined that someone has an iodine deficiency it is important to begin supplementing with low doses initially, and then to gradually increase the dosage.  For those people who conclude that people with hyperthyroid conditions shouldn’t consume iodine, all I can say is that for anyone with hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease who is looking to restore their health naturally, correcting any existing iodine deficiency is essential.