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NEW RESEARCH: Is Iodine All you Need?
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education

Iodine fortification in table salt has been common in the US since the 1920s, when it became apparent that a certain segment of the country was deficient. Iodine is a necessary mineral for the production of thyroid hormone. Prior to 1920, a northern region of the US near the Great Lakes was known as the "goiter belt" due to the high rates of goiter seen in children because of iodine deficiency. Salt iodization helped remedy this problem.

Some countries have been slow to institute iodine fortification programs. For example, Denmark just instituted iodine fortification in 2000 to help reduce deficiencies in pregnant women. Last year, they conducted a study to evaluate whether the new program was successful. They were surprised to see that 10-15% of pregnant Danish women continued to have thyroid dysfunction, including Hashimoto's Autoimmune Disease, despite better iodine intake. How could this be?

Actually, it's quite common to see higher rates of Hashimoto's thyroiditis with iodine fortification. This phenomenon is prevalent in people who are also deficient in selenium. Selenium is a critical co-factor in thyroid hormone production. It helps to stabilize thyroid function by supporting the enzyme iodothyronine deiodinase, which is critical for the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to active T3. In fact, selenium is so crucial to the thyroid gland that it stocks more of this mineral than any other organ in the body.

Selenium also helps produce glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that reduces inflammation and the antibodies that trigger Hashimoto's. Almost all Hashimoto's patients are deficient in selenium, as shown in several studies. Supplementing with selenium has been shown to help reduce thyroid antibodies significantly. You only need about 200 mcg to prevent deficiency.

The take home message here is don't forget about the co-factors necessary for thyroid hormone production. Iodine and selenium are both needed to prevent thyroid dysfunction. Remember, if you typically use natural salts, such as sea salt or himilayan salt, it isn't fortified with iodine, so you should consider supplementing with a pill form if your thyroid requires additional support.

Eur J Endocrinol. 2015 Dec; 173(6):709-18. Endocrinology. 1996 Jun; 137(6):2580-5.

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