I’m bothered when the discussion of food toxins or allergens get brought up during meals, as it can crash your whole dining experience, but since none of us are eating right now, I’ll tell you about perchlorates. You can eat foods contaminated with that. This pervasive toxin attacks thyroid function. Thyroid hormone gives you energy, improves mood, regulates heart rhythm, stimulates hair growth and helps you burn fat. When you drink or eat contaminated foods with perchlorates, they compete with iodine preventing uptake, and this reduces thyroid function. We know for a fact perchlorates inhibit the “sodium-iodide symporter” and perchlorates are sometimes injected intravenously into people in order to test them for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Whether you eat it, drink it or get exposed during a test, perchlorates can lead to hypothyroidism. That is associated weight gain, fatigue and infertility.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) describes perchlorate as a natural and man-made colorless, odorless chemical commonly used to make pool chlorination chemicals and chlorine-derived cleaners, rocket flares, fireworks, military munitions, blasting agents, matches, car air bag inflators, batteries, fertilizers, chewing tobacco, aluminum refining, and more. Yep, pretty much EVERYWHERE!
As a result, perchlorate has contaminated our groundwater supply. People living on the East coast, California, Texas, or the southwest have the highest environmental exposures and their foods grown there are most contaminated. Water, eggs, milk and fruits and vegetables (lettuce, asparagus, kale, spinach) have high amounts.
Leafy greens, rich in natural folate, have a lot of perchlorates present if they are grown in perchlorated-contaminated water! Choosing “organic” won’t matter with perchlorates, however there are other benefits. I’m not saying to avoid this, just try to buy your leafy greens from states that don’t have a high environmental risk. You’ll have to do more research on this, or read my above paragraph.
Perchlorate has a fast turn-over in the body which prompts the Perchlorate Information Bureau to reports that low levels of this chemical in drinking water and food supplies is not dangerous to human health. Even the FDA says it’s no biggie: FDA is not recommending that consumers of any age alter their diet or eating habits due to perchlorate.
I disagree. The first study of its kind recently evaluated perchlorate exposure in pregnant women to see what happened to brain development in offspring. Scientists included 487 expectant mothers -all hypothyroid- and measured their perchlorate levels during the first trimester.The women tested positive for perchlorates, and were all iodine deficient. No surprise there, remember, iodine is bullied off the receptor sites in the presence of perchlorate. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism. Researchers followed the women who had the highest perchlorate levels during pregnancy through birth and until their children were 3 years old. The toddlers all had diminished cognitive development and were in the lowest 10th percentile of IQ. I wonder how many of these moms had experienced a miscarriage during their life, as hypothyroidism is a common (but sadly missed) cause of miscarriage.
What’s so interesting is that thyroid medications were employed, and in fact, use of thyroid medications by moms with the highest perchlorate exposure did not even help offset the lower IQ in their children. The medicine didn’t even matter. The study did not say if the children were hypothyroid from birth. If they are, it should be a lifetime of thyroid hormone replenishment, either medication or supplemental.
What can you do?
Avoidance. Avoid exposure to fruits and vegetables grown in areas with elevated levels of perchlorates. Do not expose yourself to any of the sources of perchlorate that I listed above.
Iodine. When perchlorates are in your body, and also iodine, it is a race to the receptor site. Either perchlorate or iodine will occupy the sites, and get hugged into the cell. Because perchlorate compounds have a relatively short half-life, having iodine on board could help. Before you take iodine or kelp, read more about iodine and salt by clicking here.
Selenium. Drinking perchlorate-contaminated water can cause a deficiency of selenium.
Glutathione or NAC. Having an antioxidant on board can help neutralize the free radical damage that is spawned.
Stop chewing tobacco. It’s a source of perchlorate. It’s been detected in various brands of chewing tobacco.
Stop playing with gun powder. Well, I’m kind of joking, none of us are doing that but we might be ‘playing’ with pool chemicals or chlorinated products. Stop that because that is a source of perchlorate.
Milk. Not sure what to say, perchlorates are found in certain milks.
Feel free to leave general comments below and please post anything that adds to the discussion.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.