Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Iodine Deficiency Still Occurring

Why does hypothyroidism strike women to men at an 8:1 rate? Also, why do all autoimmune disorders attack women at a much higher rate (approximately from 8-10:1) as compared to men? I believe women are more susceptible to these illnesses due to a common nutritional deficit: iodine.

Women have a larger requirement for iodine as compared to men. It is well known that goiter strikes females (v. males) at a much higher rate. In fact, the difference in the gender rate of goiter becomes prominent at puberty. That is, girls begin having signs of goiter at puberty in much larger numbers as compared to boys. Why does this occur? The first sign of puberty in a girl is breast enlargement. The breasts are the second major site of glandular iodine storage next to the thyroid. Iodine is necessary to form the normal architecture and function of the breasts (as well as all the other glandular tissues). If there is iodine deficiency present, the different tissues of the body (e.g., thyroid, breasts, ovaries, etc.) will compete for iodine. The end result is that all of the tissue will have some form of iodine deficiency which can lead to iodine deficiency diseases. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroid disorders, and thyroid cancer. Furthermore, it can lead to autoimmune disorders as well as breast diseases such as fibrocystic breasts and cancer.

My clinical experience has shown that it is impossible to treat the above conditions without ensuring adequate iodine levels. I believe that inadequate iodine ingestion is responsible for the rapid rise in these illnesses. It is known that iodine levels have fallen over 50% during the last 30 years. As compared to men, women (due to having a larger amount of breast tissue) have a higher iodine requirement and suffer the consequences of iodine deficiency in larger numbers as compared to men.
However, there are other conditions that also exacerbate iodine deficiency. An article (Env. Health Persp. Vol. 115. N. 8. August 2007) pointed out that elevated pesticides in humans have resulted in lowered thyroid hormone levels. The authors of this study found that effects of the pesticides were stronger in women. Pesticides contain chlorine, fluorine, dioxins and other agents that interfere with iodine uptake and storage in the body. Therefore, the larger the exposure to pesticides, the more iodine is inhibited in the body.

So, what can you do? First, ensure adequate iodine supplementation. I believe we will not turn the tide against the rising rate of thyroid disorders and autoimmune disorders without correcting the epidemic rate of iodine deficiency that is currently present. My experience shows that in this toxic world we live in, the RDA is woefully inadequate. Therapeutic doses of iodine vary between 6-50mg/day. Those with chronic illnesses generally require larger amounts of iodine as compared to healthy people. Next, eat organic food that does not contain toxic pesticides. Finally, ingest an adequate amount of unrefined salt to help your body detoxify from these toxic chemicals. More information can be found in my books, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 4th Edition and Salt Your Way to Health, 2nd Edition.


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