What kind of iodine do you take?

The results of the latest Heart Scan Blog poll are in.

204 respondents answered the question:

Do you take an iodine supplement?

The responses:

Yes, I take Iodoral, Lugol's, or SSKI
26 (12%)

Yes, I take potassium or sodium iodide
19 (9%)

Yes, I take kelp tablets or powder
64 (31%)

No, I rely on generous use of iodized salt
23 (11%)

No, I don't supplement iodine at all
66 (32%)

Isn't iodine something you put on cuts and scratches?
6 (2%)

I am heartened by the number of respondents taking iodine in some form. After all, iodine is an essential trace mineral. Without it and health suffers, often dramatically.

However, I am concerned by the percentage of people who don't supplement iodine at all: 32%. Interestingly, this is approximately the proportion of people who come to my office who also do not supplement iodine who are now showing goiters, or enlarged thyroid glands due to iodine deficiency. Goiters lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), followed by hyperactive nodules, not to mention undesirable effects like weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, intolerance to cold, higher LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and heart disease.

11% of respondents report using lots of iodized salt. This may or may not be sufficient to provide enough iodine to prevent goiter and allow normal thyroid function. The success of this strategy depends to a great extent on how often salt is purchased. Salt that sits on the shelf for more than a month is devoid of iodine, given iodine's volatility.

I am also favorably impressed by the number of people who take "serious" iodine supplements like Lugol's solution, Iodoral, or SSKI. Of course, people who read The Heart Scan Blog tend to be an unusually informed, healthy population. The 12% of people in the poll who take these forms of iodine does clearly not mean that 12% of the general population also takes them. But 12% is more than I would have predicted.

On the Track Your Plaque website, we are awaiting an interview with iodine expert, Dr. Lyn Patrick. I'm hoping for some juicy insights.

Comments (21) -

  • Jan Jones, M.A.in Education, B.S. in Education

    6/3/2009 9:38:45 PM |

    As a follower of your blog and TRP recommendations, which I am doing, I added a small iodine supplement in a kelp tablet.  I have low thyroid and take Armour thyroid everyday.  Just recently I have read different doctors saying that taking iodine makes low thyroid worse and should not be done.  Am I inhibiting the action of the medication by taking the kelp tab?


  • kris

    6/4/2009 1:10:56 AM |

    i was looking for (UI) urine iodine testing kit. i found the next line which didn't surprise me. the UI kit was priced,
    " Price is set at 2 USD excluding postage and tax on delivery".
    the web site adress.
    this is from Thailand Mahidol University.
    it also sells test kit for iodine in the kitchen salt.
    i can never imagine purchasing something in north america with 2bucks.

  • kris

    6/4/2009 1:17:42 AM |

    iodine test kit.
    i just got mixed up. the us 2$ was the price for iodine in salt testing kit not the UI testing as i wrote earlier. can you please change the info? thanks.

  • mike V

    6/4/2009 3:12:41 AM |

    Dr D.

    Can you please give us a clue as to what happens to the unstable iodide?
    Does it evaporate, or combine with some impurity to produce a non-absorbable form?

    Curious Non chemistry major

  • Anonymous

    6/4/2009 12:36:53 PM |

    After reading about iodine here, I started eating nori (dried seaweed). I don't know what catagory that puts me in, or how much iodine I am getting.


  • Dr. William Davis

    6/4/2009 12:37:45 PM |


    That's an absurd and outdated notion.

    It is true that initial supplementation yields a paradoxic increase in TSH that subsides over a few months. But iodine is essential for health.

    Remember: Most physicians think supplements are stupid and a waste of money. If it came with a prescription and a good-looking representative, they would suddenly be prescribing it galore.

  • Dr. William Davis

    6/4/2009 12:40:06 PM |

    Hi, Mike--

    See the Track Your Plaque Special Report, Does iodine deficiency contribute to plaque growth.

    There is a graph that shows the degradation of iodine due to volatilization (evaporation). See it athttp://www.trackyourplaque.com/library/fl_03-017iodine.asp (open access).

  • Jenny

    6/4/2009 8:57:00 PM |

    Dr. Davis, I have been following this thread with interest.  After being on Synthroid for several years, I was switched to Armour Thyroid and had a bad experience with it. I decided to consult an endocrinologist rather than continue going to my PCP for my thyroid issues.  The endocrinologist DC'd the Armour, and put me back on Synthroid.  Told me  she was opposed to use of Armour and of Cytomel, and under no circumstances to take an Iodine supplement.  I have to say that I appear to be better off without the Armour, but my TSH has not come back down to an acceptable level yet--new dose increase today, so another wait for labs. I don't know what my next step should be, but in this area I am not confident enough of the facts or how they might apply to my situation to dose myself with Iodine.  It's not as clear-cut to me as the case for dosoing myself with Vitamin D.  If anyone knows of an open-minded Iodine-friendly physician in North Carolina, I would consult with her/him, but otherwise I would be afraid to do it.  I believe that some people have very bad reactions to Iodine, or is this misinformation?

  • Keenan

    6/5/2009 12:50:32 AM |

    What dose and type of supplement do you recommend, doc?

  • mike V

    6/5/2009 12:14:34 PM |

    Re: Vanishing iodide.

    Thanks for that Doc.
    I presume keeping your salt stash in a a zip-loc bag in the refrigerator would lengthen its effective life.
    I wonder if there is a problem with short lifetime on any of the supplement forms?

    PS What are the odds of rejuvenating aging (hypo)thyroid glands that have been successfully supplemented for many years?

    PPS I truly appreciate your work in breaking down the blood-brain barrier between 'Medicine' and intelligent nutrition/prevention.

  • Dr. William Davis

    6/5/2009 2:27:41 PM |

    Hi, Mike--

    Tightly storing iodized salt in an air-tight container would likely preserve iodine content.

    To my knowledge, the degradation of iodine-containing supplements or medications has not been formally examined. But it is probably best to keep tightly closed in a cool place to be safe.

  • Jan Jones, M.A.in Education, B.S. in Education

    6/5/2009 3:46:10 PM |


    I think the bad reaction to iodine you refer to could have 2 origins.  There are people who are allergic to iodine and can have severe reactions to ingesting iodine. They don't eat shellfish and cannot have iodine dye injected for x-rays,etc.  Also, as I related to Dr.D in my post here, (see 1st post) recently I have read about drs saying patients should not take iodine if they have low thryroid because it will cause lower production of thyroid hormone.  Dr. D responded to my post here and like you, I wasn't sure about dosing myself. I will continue to take a small amount in an organic kelp tab, take my Armour thyroid everyday and get levels checked at appropriate intervals. My PCP is really only involved in testing my levels and working with me on rx meds. I make supplementation decisions based on my own research. Hard to find a dr who values an integrated approach.
    Good luck!

  • kris

    6/5/2009 10:29:32 PM |

    some times the problem with adrenal gland may  give bad experience with armour. adrenal have to be fixed first before armour can be given. and some times, it is just adrenal issue and not hypothyroid issue at all.

    ALWAYS treat your adrenals first!
            If the adrenals are weak, replacing thyroid hormone first would most likely make a person feel much worse and may stir up 'hyperthyroid' symptoms bu increasing the metabolism and initiate an adrenal crisis. The adrenals must be strong enough to cope with the increase in metabolism. This is the most common mistake made in the medical management of these conditions.


    from personal experience the supporting "B" vitamins and magnesium must be started first before starting on dessicated hormones. but it must be decided first that if you are truly hypothyroid?
    when i started the thyroid hormones, it felt like starting up an old motor with different timing  belt. body, brain, heart and several other cells were going through adjustment of control and distribution of the energy. it took about 6 months or so for me to deiced the right dose and timing of vitamins, iodine and dessicated thyroid hormones. i felt that above dosing and timing can not be decided by a doctor. it is only the patient can figure it out with a learning curve. it is lots of work but believe me it is worth it.

  • kris

    6/5/2009 10:41:58 PM |

    i forgot to add the list of suggested thyroid doctors in us and canada.

  • Keenan

    6/6/2009 4:06:12 PM |

    What do you think about Kelp and tyrosine in combination?

    NOW has a thyroid supplement that combines these. What do you think?


  • Anonymous

    6/8/2009 12:58:25 AM |

    Hi Mike,


    here is a paper on the loss of Iodine from salt.  It compares Potassium Iodide to the Iodate with the latter being more stable at higher temps and in high humidity. The two environmental factors mentioned are key to degradation and loss of Iodine from the table salt.  Not only should you store your salt in a sealed container in refrigerator, but you should ensure the salt you buy is in a vapor barrier lined package so that it is in the best condition when you purchase it.

  • Anonymous

    6/12/2009 1:00:48 PM |

    Kelp warning?


    Researchers at the University of California/Davis found that eight out of nine kelp supplements contained abnormal levels of arsenic (Env. Health Perspectives, April, 2007).

  • very sick me

    7/6/2009 4:45:39 PM |

    Thanks for the info on the home testing kit...I live in Europe and it's sometimes hard to find these. I've been taking kelp (along with culinary practice) for iodine issues.

  • Elin

    3/13/2010 4:18:23 AM |

    People should know that genetically susceptible individuals can give themselves graves disease by taking iodine supplements such as Lugols. While supplementation may be healthful for some people, it can really ruin your life if you happen to be one of them.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 10:35:21 PM |

    I am heartened by the number of respondents taking iodine in some form. After all, iodine is an essential trace mineral. Without it and health suffers, often dramatically.

  • naturalmeds

    5/9/2011 12:21:16 PM |

    Since I was diagnosed with hypothyroid disease, I started taking porcine thyroid supplements for my hormone deficiency. I feel energized now.