Hint – the question is not so much which iodine is best, but which iodine is best for which indication.
Iodine is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in maintaining thyroid health and function. It is also a key building block and required by the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones – notably triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are tasked with supporting energy production, regulating growth and cognition, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Seaweed (such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame) is one of the best dietary sources of iodine, as is fish and other seafood.
What is Iodine used for?
Given its importance to thyroid health, it’s not surprising that iodine is extensively used to support the gland, especially in those with subclinical hypothyroidism (unmedicated), and associated symptoms such as unexplained weight gain, irregular periods, low body temperature, and energy levels, coarse, dry skin, thinning hair, fatigue, mental fog, low mood, and a constant feeling of being cold. Iodine is also extremely safe and effective to protect the thyroid in cases of nuclear emergencies, by saturating the gland, and in doing so, preventing the uptake of radioactive iodine (produced as a result of nuclear weapons being detonated). Indeed, iodine supplementation is so effective at protecting the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, that most health authorities officially recommend it in nuclear emergencies.
Different Types of Iodine
Iodine comes in a range of different types – each offering its own distinct benefits and applications. Some of the most common include:
Molecular Iodine – a potent and widely-known antimicrobial used in hospitals and medical facilities worldwide for infection control. It’s interesting to note that there is overwhelming research-backed evidence that shows that the COVID-19 virus can be safely and effectively inactivated by molecular iodine, further solidifying its powerful antimicrobial properties.
Topical Iodine – commonly found in pharmacies, is used to prevent, and treat all sorts of infections that may result from minor scrapes, cuts, and other injuries. Topical iodine is a perfect addition to your medicine cabinet.
Povidone Iodine – is an antiseptic used in hospital settings to disinfect the skin before and after surgery, as well as is used for the treatment of cuts and other wounds.
Potassium Iodide – is the most common form of dietary iodine supplement, and is recommended to treat thyroid disorders, in radiation emergencies, and to protect the thyroid gland when certain types of radiopharmaceuticals are used (much in the same way it prevents radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid, as previously discussed). Potassium iodide has a bioavailability of 96.4% in humans, and can effectively raise one’s iodine levels.
Nascent Iodine – also sometimes called atomic iodine or detoxified iodine, is a liquid oral dietary supplement used to support healthy thyroid function and to prevent or treat low iodine or iodine deficiency and associated symptoms. Nascent iodine can also be used to treat systemic infections, purify drinking water, and support detoxification. The unique structure of nascent iodine is said to allow it to travel through the body more quickly and easily than other forms of iodine and thus may provide more expedient results than other supplemental forms of iodine.
Cadexomer Iodine – is also a topical antiseptic, that’s been shown effective in the treatment of venous ulcers, as well as is used to accelerate the healing process in chronic human wounds in medical settings.
Radioactive Iodine – can be the result of nuclear accidents, of course, but also has its place in medicine as an effective, safe, well-tolerated precise, and targeted treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), as well as certain types of thyroid cancer.
Iodine supplements are safe and effective and can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with low thyroid function including low metabolic rate, weight gain, moodiness, lack of energy, menstrual irregularities, and goiter. Iodine supplementation is also frequently recommended to boost immunity, mitigate hair loss, and promote the formation of healthy skin, hair, and teeth.
Supplements are typically available either in tablet or liquid form, and can safely be used daily, to ensure you meet your recommended daily intake of iodine. You can also bolster your iodine levels by taking kelp tablets or liquid, which are a great natural source of iodine. It’s also worth mentioning that iodine is frequently sold in combination thyroid blends, along with other essential nutrients for healthy thyroid function including L-tyrosine, ashwagandha, selenium, manganese, pantothenic acid, and others.
The recommended daily intake of iodine is as follows:
- 1–8 years old — 90 micrograms daily
- 9–13 years old — 120 micrograms daily
- 14+ years old — 150 micrograms daily
- Pregnancy & Lactation — 290 micrograms every day