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Iodine, *read carefully*, connection to hypothyroid / Hashimoto's / Graves' / autoimmune thyroid

Iodine is a tricky subject, not at all as easy as the interwebz bloggers and book-writers would have you think.

First, let me start with some basic statements I believe.

  • Iodine deficiency exists.
  • Bromine toxicity exists, as do health issues caused by toxicity of the other halogens and halogen compounds (fluorine, chlorine).
  • Potassium iodide is TOXIC for your thyroid (part of Lugol's, Iodoral, and too many other supplements).  See thread here for the medically-documented and known toxicity of it.  I would suggest that you first stop ruining your thyroid using this stuff, and only keep it on hand for nuclear fallout events (it can help then because it binds so strongly to your thyroid and blocks radioactive molecules from binding, but it also blocks normal iodine+thyroid function too!)
  • Those with autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto's, Graves' disease) may distinctly aggravate their condition by taking iodine of any type, so fixing the autoimmunity (which is Poison/"Vitamin A" toxicity, see Grant Genereux's books linked in this forum) is the primary goal, so that an essential nutrient is not turned into something damaging.

As with many things, I was an early adopter of what I call the "iodine crazy people approach", doing the urinary challenge testing for iodine, and then giving everyone MEGAdoses of a combo of iodine and potassium iodide.

Here's why I gave that up.  When I would talk to the lab testing company's support physician (who graciously answered questions by phone), regardless of whether someone's urine iodine challenge test came up OK or not, the answer from this person was ALWAYS to take massive doses of Iodoral (potassium iodide and iodine combo)...oh, and maybe they needed some B-vitamins too.  I was taught in medical school that "if the results of a test, whatever they are, will NOT change your planned treatment, then DON'T waste time or money on the test".  This was my first suspicion that something wasn't right.  The lab selling the Iodoral was another red light...if a lab is selling the test, and selling the solution, one should be suspicious immediately of conflicts of interest.

Next, the black box results.  After observing enough clients doing this with/through me, I saw a couple people feel a bit better, many people feel NOTHING, and some people definitively feel WORSE (sometimes quite quickly).  Now, the "iodine crazy people" love to spout "but muh bromism and bromine detox!!!".  Maybe there is some of that, but in reality POTASSIUM IODIDE IS A KNOWN ANTI-THYROID AGENT (see link above).  Maybe people feel like crap on it because it is aggravating their "autoimmunity" (I have seen this happen on lab tests) OR it is directly suppressing their thyroid...both in the literature.

So we had suspicious over-recommending the supplement that the lab specialized in testing for, and a distinct lack of amazing results happening from correcting this supposed "epidemic deficiency problem".  What's going on then?  I'm not going to say I have all the answers and mechanisms...that said, I do have interesting connections.

First, the connection between Poison/"Vitamin A", iodine and thyroid autoimmunity:

Effects of retinoids on iodine metabolism, thyroid peroxidase gene expression, and deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis in porcine thyroid cells in culture.

Effects of retinoids on DNA synthesis, iodine metabolism, and thyroid peroxidase messenger RNA levels were studied in cultured porcine thyroid cells. Retinol (10(-8)-10(-5) M) alone did not affect DNA synthesis but potentiated that induced by epidermal growth factor or insulin-like growth factor-I without changes in the number or affinity of receptors for the growth factors, suggesting that retinol stimulates postreceptor events responsible for DNA synthesis. Retinol was an inhibitor of TSH-stimulated iodine metabolism. Iodide uptake and release of organified iodine stimulated by TSH or forskolin were inhibited dose dependently by treatment with retinol. The inhibition was detected at 10(-8) M and was approximately 50% at 10(-6) M. The potency of retinoic acid was comparable to that of retinol. The inhibitory effect of retinol was detected after treatments of thyroid cells for 24 h, and the maximal effect occurred after 48 h incubation. The cAMP accumulation in cultures treated with TSH plus retinol was lower than that of control cultures treated with TSH alone. However, iodide uptake stimulated by 8-bromo-cAMP was also inhibited by retinoids. Retinol reduced TSH- or 8-bromo-cAMP-stimulated gene expression of thyroid peroxidase. Thus, the data suggest that retinoids inhibit TSH-stimulated iodine metabolism by reducing cAMP accumulation and also by acting on the steps subsequent to cAMP production.

Let me summarize the above (retinol and retinoic acid are Poison/"Vitamin A"):

  • Poison/"Vitamin A" inhibited iodine uptake (iodine was not getting into the thryoid well)
  • Poison/"Vitamin A" caused reduced cAMP accumulation.  cAMP is involved in ATP production and "plays an important role in the regulation of metabolism generally". cAMP is also involved in "dark adaptation" of the eyes...hey, like night blindness?  I'll do another thread on this connection.
  • Poison/"Vitamin A" stimulated gene expression of thyroid peroxidase...thyroid peroxidase antibody testing is one way to diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease (thyroglobulin antibodies is the other main one) this the connection to how it is perceived that iodine looks to "aggravate/increase" thyroid antibodies in a bad way...but it really may be an excess of Poison/"Vitamin A" and the iodine interacting?
  • Poison/"Vitamin A" "inhibited Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) stimulated iodine metabolism" at multiple steps.  That's not good.

That's a lot to swallow right there (goiter pun intended).  The main takeaway is that Poison/"Vitamin A" is bad for the thyroid's metabolism of iodine.  This doesn't mean the solution is to MEGAdose iodine to try to FORCE the system to work, which is in reality what people and practitioners are doing!  Has this megadosing been done, and might someone feel a bit better from doing this?  Sure! Does this fix the underlying problem?  NOT AT ALL!  What this means is that the solution is to MINIMIZE/REDUCE/REMOVE the POISON.

Here's another study unintentionally showing the farce of "Vitamin A deficiency", and how iodine deficiency is implicated in that made-up problem:

Vitamin A Repletion in Rats with Concurrent Vitamin A and Iodine Deficiency Affects Pituitary TSHβ Gene Expression and Reduces Thyroid Hyperstimulation and Thyroid Size

Concurrent vitamin A (VA) deficiency (VAD) and iodine deficiency (ID) are common in developing countries. VAD has effects on thyroid metabolism that may be dependent on iodine status. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of VA supplementation (VAS) and/or dietary iodine repletion, alone and in combination, on the thyroid-pituitary axis in rats with concurrent VAD and ID. Weanling rats (n = 96) were fed diets deficient in VA and iodine or sufficient in both (control), for 30 d. Subsequently, deficient rats were repleted with iodine and/or single VAS or remained deficient for 10 d. Serum retinol (SR), thyroid hormones, serum thyrotropin (TSH), pituitary TSHβ mRNA expression level, and thyroid weight were measured. High-dose VAS restored SR concentrations to normal in both iodine-deficient and iodine-sufficient rats. Despite continuing VAD, provision of the iodine-sufficient diet entirely reversed the abnormalities of the pituitary-thyroid axis produced by VAD and ID. In iodine-sufficient rats, VAS had no discernible effects on the pituitary-thyroid axis; in iodine-deficient rats, VAS reduced pituitary production of TSH and thyroid stimulation but had no discernible effects on circulating thyroid hormone concentrations. Primary hypothyroidism in rats with concurrent VAD and ID does not reduce the efficacy of VAS, nor does VAD reduce the efficacy of dietary iodine to correct pituitary-thyroid axis dysfunction due to ID. In concurrent VAD and ID, VAS, independent of iodine repletion, reduces thyroid hyperstimulation and size, an effect likely mediated through the effects of VA on pituitary TSHβ gene expression.


  • The rats we are interested in (not the controls) were all given a supposed "Vitamin A deficiency" (VAD) AND an iodine deficiency (ID). So, all rats started out as VAD+ID in the study.
  • Then, some of these rats were given iodine and NOT given Poison/"Vitamin A". These rats (VAD+ID) saw their thyroid-pituitary axis (TSH in short) COMPLETELY RETURN TO NORMAL with only iodine, while they still had "Vitamin A Deficiency".
  • Another group of VAD+ID rats was then given enough Poison/"Vitamin A" to bring their serum retinol (blood level of Poison/"Vitamin A") back up to normal, while continuing the iodine deficiency (so they were Vitamin A Sufficient, VAS, while still Iodine Deficient, ID, so VAS+ID)...and they saw NO improvement in their thyroid-pituitary axis (TSH, basically).
  • These rats (VAS+ID) also saw "reduced pituitary production of TSH and thyroid stimulation but had no discernible effects on circulating thyroid hormone concentrations".  There was really NO thyroid axis benefit, possible problems being created (the repletion phase was only 10 days!), and the only thing "fixed" was that they got their blood levels of Poison/"Vitamin A" back to the made-up normal levels. Whoop-de-doo.
  • "nor does VAD reduce the efficacy of dietary iodine to correct pituitary-thyroid axis dysfunction due to ID" = iodine fixes iodine deficiency problems, in spite of the so-called "Vitamin A Deficiency" still being present.

Another study showing Poison/"Vitamin A" screws with iodine function and basically causes hypothyroidism:

Effects of Retinoids On Iodine-metabolism in Isolated Rat-thyroid Follicles

Isolated rat thyroid follicles in suspension culture were used as a model system for an investigation of the effect of retinol and retinoic acid on labelled iodine metabolism in a thyroid in vitro. The 4 hour I-125 uptake values by the isolated follicles ranged from 0.30% to 3.6% of the total labelled iodide added to the medium without thyrotropin (TSH) and from 10.2% to 18.3% with 0.5 mU/ml of TSH. The half life of the labelled iodine released from the isolated follicles cultured in the presence of TSH was about 16 hours. Although 10(-6) M retinol slightly decreased the labelled iodide uptake and organification, retinol had no effect on labelled iodine released from isolated follicles. However, 10(-9) to 10(-7) M retinoic acid markedly decreased the 4 h I-125 uptake, iodine organification and the iodothyronine contents in thyroglobulin, and this decrease was dose-dependent. Retinoic acid also decreased the secretion of thyroid hormones from isolated thyroid follicles into medium.

Can you see through the farce/fraud?  If you read the abstracts carefully, you can feel the bias & apologetics (defending doctrine/dogma through systematic argumentation and discourse) of the study authors trying their hardest to keep "Vitamin A Deficiency" relevant, when it really is being shown that it isn't.

A paper on the chemical interactions on Poison/"Vitamin A" and iodine shows that it creates iodiDE, which is not useable by the thyroid (it wants iodiNE):

Reactions of Vitamin A with acceptors of electrons.  Interactions with iodine and the formation of iodide.

The reactions of retinol and retinoic acid with iodine were investigated since knowledge of the chemical reactions of vitamin A with acceptors of electrons may shed light on its biochemical mode of action. [...]In addition, both retinol and retinoic acid reduce iodine to iodide [...] The presence of water greatly facilitates the production of iodide from vitamin A and iodine.

I give recommendations on iodine (to take it or not, and dosing) to my Nutritional Restoration clients, so contact us if you are interested further.  Two things I always recommend AGAINST are Poison/"Vitamin A" and potassium iodide.

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Dr. Garrett Smith, the "Nutrition Detective"
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