The Connection Between Ukraine and Iodine

After several weeks of news regarding the war in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, there is now a rush to buy iodine supplements. Supplement makers cannot keep up because of the high demand, combined with the supply chain problems.

The reason is that iodine is protective. People close to the war are living amid real fears of radiation poisoning! The CDC is even okay with this one! Iodine dietary supplements are minerals by the way, just like its brothers and sisters (zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium), dietary supplements are sold at health food stores nationwide. 

Sometimes I see it called a “drug” but iodine is not a drug. Let me clarify, MRI contrasts contain a patented drug form of iodine, but this is much different than the natural iodine your body needs to thrive. Deficiencies are more common than you think and often result in reproductive harm to the prostate, breasts, uterus, endometrium and cervix. Additionally, iodine deficiencies often result in hypothyroidism. I’ve written an ARTICLE in the past regarding iodine, and its relationship to shellfish, MRI contrast, and also the health benefits. You can read that HERE. I do want to make the point that too much iodine can be as harmful as a deficiency! If you are interested in receiving more information about thyroid, iodine or iodine supplementation, please sign up for my Thyroid Thursday email newsletter HERE.

Iodine Benefits

Now I will speak to the reasons that people are stocking up on iodine supplements, even in the United States. I saw the other day where just 20 pills of a thyroid supplement (whose active ingredient is iodine) garners $185 when purchased off eBay!!!

You may be wondering why a thyroid product is a hot commodity. It’s because iodine is in thyroid supplements. And that’s because your thyroid gland must have iodine in order to synthesize thyroid hormone (thyroxine aka T4). 

Iodine-based medications are often prescribed by holistic endocrinologists in order to treat goiters. Anyway, that’s how come the Ebay seller was gouging customers. In case you’re wondering, my thyroid formula is not sold on Ebay, and furthermore, I would never gouge people like that!

Even here in the United States, far away from Russia and Ukraine, many supplement companies are seeing an uptick in sales for thyroid and iodine supplements. There are shipment delays, and “sold out” products everywhere including my own store!

With time, only the inferior low-dose products will be left because people are buying the better products. It’s just crazy to see the up-tick and I’m not sure we’ll even need it over here! I just see at my own vitamin shop how the demand for iodine-containing supplements has skyrocketed literally overnight. It has prompted media outlets to ask consumers to stop overbuying and hoarding iodine. 

It’s all happening because people are afraid of radiation poisoning from a nuclear meltdown or weapon.

As it pertains to radiation, the CDC states “potassium iodide” is a form of non-radioactive iodine that blocks dangerous radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland, “thus protecting this gland from radiation injury. The thyroid gland is the part of the body that is most sensitive to radioactive iodine.” The CDC says “the sooner a person takes KI, the more time the thyroid will have to ‘fill up’ with stable iodine.”

Even today, some of the fruits and vegetables grown in the soil many kilometers from the actual Chernobyl meltdown are found to be radioactive. Obviously, distance matters. Countries who are far away from Ukraine do not suffer the consequences that the neighboring countries do in the event of radiation exposure. Those who are very, very close to an accident won’t need iodine anyway! If you care to read this paper published in Frontiers in Endocrinology (Jan 2021) they describe in more detail the radiation damage from the Chernobyl accident in 1986. They discuss “an increase in the of rate of thyroid cancer and other thyroid diseases in population exposed after the Chernobyl accident.” 

Fast forward to today, there is an understandable fear, and consumers are cleaning out iodine supplements, as well as iodine-containing thyroid supplements. The reproductive organs rely on iodine too. For that matter, virtually every single cell in the body has iodine-receptors, it’s just that the thyroid gland is a sponge!  A good friend of mine lives in the U.S. now, but as a little girl, her family lived fairly close to the Chernobyl plant during the disaster. She grew up, but developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis very early on, in her 20’s. She’s among several million people who suffer today as a result of the consequences from this nuclear accident. It’s a well known fact that the thyroid gland and reproductive organs suffer the most from radiation poisoning, but of the two, the thyroid gland suffers the most. What’s less known is the individual response of iodine, the dose needed, the length of time required to stay protected and the type of iodine. I see much discussion online about all of these parameters.

Potassium iodide is one type of iodine, there are many dietary supplements containing different forms that ultimately break down into a molecule of iodine. As for potency, efficacy and bioavailability, that depends on the type of supplement.

Can these supplements be taken if you have a thyroid disorder? It depends on the thyroid disorder you have, and the type of treatment you are receiving right now, so pose this question to your physician. Iodine raises thyroxine so in the case of hyperthyroidism, it is not a good idea. Iodine ramps up production of thyroid hormone. If you already take medications that provide thyroid hormone, and then take an iodine supplement, you may experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism. That would mean excessive thyroid hormone in the blood.

Iodine is a natural mineral that is usually widely available in health food stores, and e-tailers. Click HERE to see the products from my store that are rich in iodine.

For this reason, I recommend you speak to your practitioner about all additions you want to make to your vitamin regimen include iodine supplementation. 

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