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Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

Published on November 15, 2009

The analysis of “National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys” data of moderate to severe iodine deficiency is present now in a significant proportion of the U.S. population, with a clear increasing trend over the past 20 years, caused by reduced iodized table salt usage.[1] Along with magnesium and selenium, iodine is one of the most deficient minerals in our bodies.

The body’s ability to resist infection and disease is hindered by long-term deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals. Importantly poor immune response is correlated with impaired thyroid function; a deficiency in iodine can greatly affect the immune system because low levels of iodine lead to problems with the thyroid gland.


“In sufficient amounts iodine can not only adjust a dysfunctional thyroid, it can assist with a host of glandular imbalances as well as a wide assortment of internal as well as external bacteria, fungi, and virus’s. Iodine has many non-endocrine biologic effects, including the role it plays in the physiology of the inflammatory response. Iodides increase the movement of granulocytes into areas of inflammation and improve the phagocytosis of bacteria by granulocytes and the ability of granulocytes to kill bacteria.[2]

Iodine’s ability to revive hormonal sensitivity seems to significantly improve insulin sensitivity. Iodine attaches to insulin receptors and improves glucose metabolism.

Iodine deficiency symptoms include:

  • muscle cramps,
  • cold hands and feet,
  • proneness to weight gain,
  • poor memory, constipation,
  • depression and headaches,
  • edema,
  • myalgia,
  • weakness,
  • dry skin,
  • brittle nails.

High doses of iodine have been found to eliminate or decrease the need for insulin in both type one and type two diabetics. This information is available from Dr. Brownstein and is in Dr. Sircus’ Diabetes and Iodine books.

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It is very likely that iodine also has an effect on arthritis and other auto immune diseases. It definitely affects thyroid problems too, some of which are also consideered autoimmune diseases.

Iodine and your Heart

According to Dr. Stephen A. Hoption Cann“Iodine deficiency can have deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system, and correspondingly, that a higher iodine intake may benefit cardiovascular function.” Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been shown to have negative effects on the heart. Clinical cardiovascular features of hypothyroidism include: bradycardia, reduced cardiac output, increased pericardial and pleural effusions, increased diastolic blood pressure and peripheral vasoconstriction.

Dr. Michael Donaldson says, “Iodine stabilizes the heart rhythm, lowers serum cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and is known to make the blood thinner as well, judging by longer clotting times seen by clinicians. Iodine is not only good for the cardiovascular system, it is vital.

Iodine, Cancer and Fibrocystic Disease


In my Cancer Compendium book iodine is presented as a vital component for cancer treatment. It is absolutely vital for preventing and curing breast cancer and probably all forms of cancer would be diminished by its concentrated use. Dr. Tullio Simoncini, an oncologist in Rome, famous for his sodium bicarbonate treatments, uses iodine to treat skin cancer.

Several studies have demonstrated a relationship between low iodine intake and fibrocystic disease of the breast (FDB), both in women and laboratory animals. [3] The first thing that happens to a woman when she develops an iodine deficiency is a problem with her reproductive organs: breast deformation, and general calcification.

Iodine supplementation will gradually eliminate the first phase of the cancer development in the breasts (fibrocystic disease) so no new cancers can start. It also will kill abnormal cells floating around in the body at remote sites from the original cancer. This approach appears to work for prostate cancer as prostate cancer is similar to breast cancer in many respects according to Dr. David Derry.

“ Iodine is needed in microgram amounts for the thyroid,mg amounts for breast and other tissues, and can be used therapeutically in gram amounts.[4] – Dr. David Miller

Sources of Iodine

Sources of iodine include most sea foods, (ocean fish, but not fresh fish, shellfish, especially oysters), unrefined sea salt, kelp and other sea weeds, fish broth, butter, pineapple, artichokes, asparagus, dark green vegetables and eggs. Certain vegetables, such as cabbage and spinach, can block iodine absorption when eaten raw or unfermented and are called goitrogens. But eating fish won’t give you iodine in mg amounts. To get 13.8 mg iodine, you would have to eat 10-20 pounds of fish per day.[5]

The table below lists the iodine content of some iodine-rich foods in micrograms (mcg). Because the iodine content of foods can vary considerably, these values should be considered approximate.



Iodine (mcg)

Salt (iodized)

1 gram



3 ounces*



3 ounces


Fish sticks

2 fish sticks


Tuna, canned in oil

3 ounces (1/2 can)


Milk (cow’s)

1 cup (8 fluid ounces)


Egg, boiled

1 large


Navy beans, cooked

1/2 cup


Potato with peel, baked

1 medium


Turkey breast, baked

3 ounces



1 ounce, dried

Variable; may be greater than 18,000 mcg (18 mg)

[1] Hollowell JG, Staehling NW, Hannon WH, et al. (1998) Iodine nutrition in the United States. Trends and public health implications: iodine excretion data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys I and III (1971-1974 and 1988-1994). J Clin Endocrinol Metab 83: 3401-3408

[2] Stone OJ (1988) The role of the primitive sea in the natural selection of iodides as a regulating factor in inflammation. Med Hypotheses. 25:125-129

[3] Ghent, W., et al, Can. J. Surg., 36:453-460,1993. Eskin, B., et al, Biological Trace Element Research, 49:9-19, 1995.

[4] The iodine content of most foods depends on the iodine content of the soil in which it was raised. Seafood is rich in iodine because marine animals can concentrate the iodine from seawater. Certain types of seaweed (e.g. wakame) are also very rich in iodine. Processed foods may contain slightly higher levels of iodine due to the addition of iodized salt or food additives, such as calcium iodate and potassium iodate. Dairy products are relatively good sources of iodine because iodine is commonly added to animal feed in the U.S. In the U.K. and northern Europe, iodine levels in dairy products tend to be lower in summer when cattle are allowed to graze in pastures with low soil iodine content .

# # # #

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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For questions pertaining to your own personal health issues or for specific dosing of Dr. Sircus's protocol items please seek a consultation or visit our knowledge base to see if your question may have been answered previously.
  • Carol

    Hi – you say spinach blocks the absorption of iodine. I drink a green smoothie every morning made with fresh raw spinach. If I take the iodine at night, is that far enough away from when I ingested the spinach in order for the iodine to still be absorbed? thanks

  • shea

    Dr Mark,
    I am currently taking spiranolactone for high testosterone ,,, my lab also indicated possible pcos. Can I take detoxadine / iodine since spiranolactone is potassium sparing?
    Thank you!

    • You probably can take the iodine but best to check with your qualified health care practitioner first.
      Claudia French

  • RRI


    I just received test results regarding serum iodine levels and beyond the number not falling outside the large reference range, I do not know how to interpret them.

    Is there a way to know what an ideal serum iodine level should be?


    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Dear RRI,

      We are not familiar with reading serum iodine lab results. I suggest you either contact the lab for your answer, or whomever prescribed this test be done, or you could also contact Dr. David Brownstein, who is knowledgeable in iodine levels though he prefers doing an iodine loading test which measures adequacy of iodine in all tissues and not just in serum.

  • Frank wedlich

    Dear mark,

    What Kind of iodine is The Nascent iodine ?? Can you give Mae The chemical formula please ?

    Because i am searching for The Free iodine, chemically definier as The “I2” – is it The Same with Nascent iodine ?

    Best wishes,

  • Jane

    I have been taking Nascent iodine for one week and it’s amazing! I haven’t felt well for the past 4 months with the past month being the worst. Extremely fatigued, hair thinning, dry skin and awful menstrual cycles, daily headaches, leg cramps. And a 15 pound weight gain in a two month time period even while eating a healthy diet. Normal TSH and CBC, Bmet showed a slightly low blood calcium level. No recommendations or help for the doctor. I started taking magnesium and the iodine one week ago. Took two drops on Wednesday afternoon and the two drops on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon I started to notice that I had more energy then I have felt in months. I haven’t had any headaches in the past week or any other pains. My skin is no longer dry, it’s really soft. I actually feel back to my normal self.
    I had a copper IUD placed shortly before all those symptoms started, doctors state that there is no reason the copper iud would cause the symptoms but I’m not totally convinced. Does anyone know if iodine and copper have any interactions? I was extremely close to having the IUD remove before I had started taking the iodine which made me feel better. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff


      Glad you noticed so much improvement so quickly!

      I personally don’t know of interactions between a copper IUD and iodine, perhaps someone else here can help.

  • Lasse Petersen

    Hello IMVA

    I have a thyroid nodule on my left thyroid. I was at the hospital in November last year and had some tests done, and they told me everything my hormone levels were normal, and the FNA turned out fine. I also did a scan with radioactive iodine and it was cold. they want to remove the entire left side of my thyroid, and I am very much against it, and I have been trying to find alternative ways to deal with it. I have always eaten a pretty good diet, but when i got the message i cut out all diary products, refined sugar, reduced carbs. I even did a juice detox and a 3 days water/coconut faste. Nothing has helped, I have known about Iodine, but i have heard that it can both be good and bad to start taking Iodine, as the Nodule can swell up and get larger. Is this information correct. Will i be able to correct my thyroid issue with a supplement of Iodine, as I am willing to do everything to avoid having my thyroid taken out. I also have a degenerated disci in the cervical area c5-c6, and i did some checking on it and it turns out that this is where the place where they thyroid is controlled, so I suspect that there are several reasons for it, but the hospital did want to discuss it with my they just wanted to do what they did best, to remove it.

    So my question is, what would you recommend?


    Lasse Petersen

    • Jim Alvrus

      I have a nodule as well. Found a physician that did fine needle aspiration (guided by ultrasound during the fna) a few times and monitored size for a couple of years. Now says the risk is low so no need for further monitoring.


  • Victoria

    Dear Claudia, kindly answer my question, as all my research and medical treatments have failed me. My husband have suclinical hypothyroidism, that we discovered after searching the cause of his excessive hair loss.As he went of prescribtion Minoxidil and have aditional hair loss due to withdrawal, he struggles to drop weight even after rigorous training and low calories. Will takind iodine help him with hair regrowth and weight management? What dose is appropriate? Thanks a lot!

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Dear Victoria,

      Iodine supplementation is frequently helpful in hypothyroidism. Please read up on the numerous articles on Dr. Sircus Iodine site: and also take a look at his iodine book :

      We have had a number of reports from people that the use of transdermal magnesium chloride has increased hair growth and brought color back to greying hair as well.

      We do not recommend specific dosing on this blog, you would have to get that from a private consultation with Dr. Sircus. It would be dependent on much more information that what you have shared here.

  • Elaine

    I remain ever grateful to you, Dr. Mark, for your ongoing work in helping people identify the most fundamental problems of things that cause chronic health diseases. Your “natural-allopathic” approach is the most effective I’ve ever seen.
    Frank, your comment above is so “spot on”. People are waking up to this scientifically unfounded, but politically promoted practice of “water fluoridation”….the transfer of the toxic scrubbing liquor of the phosphate industry’s smokestacks collected in special trucks and transferred straight to water district plants to be titrated directly into our drinking water…under the guise of some story that it’s….good? for our teeth! And now they want to add lithium! as well, siting some manufactured news blurb that it can prevent suicide!!!
    (and HOW MUCH? of our tax dollars go to fund the EPA?)
    I KNOW I am fluoride poisoned. I live in the Great Lakes Region, which is ALSO “methyl mercury” poisoned.
    I need all the iodine and clay I can get.
    God Bless you, Dr. Mark. I have never met a more genuine and truthful humanitarian. Your love and care for the people of this world will be rewarded to you ten-fold. Of that, I am certain.

  • Gérard


    Would iodine also be useful in treating the herpes simplex virus,maybe with transdermal treatment and if so what dosage do you recommend? If not can you recommend another treatment?

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff

      Hello Gerard,

      Yes Iodine is effective against the Herpes virus. George Eby has a site that explains how iodine works against Herpes and also shows many alternative treatments for it. See:

  • Lisa Thaxton

    I am new to all this. Curious if long soaks in a hot tub sanitized with Bromide is a health hazard? If so, can this nascent iodine conteract the Bromide’s negative effect?

    • Claudia – IMVA Staff


      Its best to avoid any exposure to bromides. You would likely need to have a hi iodine intake to counteract the effects, besides other detoxifying substances.

  • Gillian

    Dear Doctor Sircus

    I am experiencing hypothyroidism. Resting body temperature is 96.26F.
    Feeling tired, hair loss, brittle nails. TSH T4 T3 levels have been up and down. My doctor has suggested to be tested for reverse T3.

    It has been suggested iodine would be helpful.

    Is it best to obtain iodine in a ethanol or water solution.
    I am worried about the long term affects of this condition, and the other body functioning that are out of balance due to this condition.

    Appreciate your comments.

    • IMVA Staff

      Dear Gillian,
      Dr. Sircus recommends Nascent Iodine which is in an ethanol solution. It is far superior to other iodine products. You should start on a small dose of 5-10 drops per day.

      It is available through LL’s Magnetic Clay.

      Claudia French

  • sally

    Dr Sircus

    I have been working with my dentist as I have periodontal (gum) disease. With the dentists prognosis: “Unfortunately the supporting bone lost in periodontitis cannot be reliably restored, However, that does not mean that further progression of bone loss cannot be prevented.”

    Would iodine help?


    • IMVA Staff


      You should ber alternately rinsing your mouth and gums with magnesium oil and sodium bicarbonate a few times per day. Iodine would help in general and specifically if an infection is present in the gums.

      Claudia French

  • maryke

    curious then, will iodine help detoxify the body of fluoride?

    • IMVA Staff

      Dear Maryke,

      Iodine definitely facilitates the body’s release of the toxic halides fluoride and bromide.

      Claudia French

  • Frank Saul

    The main reason for the rampent iodine deficiency is fluoridated municipal water and fluoridated tooth paste. Iodine, chlorine and fluoride are halogens, thus have the same atomic structure. Fluoride is the “bully”, it will displace or take up the receptor sites of iodine. Blood tests cannot tell the difference between the various halogens. the lab tests may come back as ‘normal’ yet the person exposed to fluoride and/or chlorine on a regular basis is bound to be seriously deficient.
    Avoid any use of fluoridated products: toothpaste, drinking water (town) and fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office; the supplement with iodine/iodide daily. Google for Lugol’s Solution of Iodine and take 4-6 drops in water daily.

    • IMVA Staff

      Thanks Frank,

      Great information!

      The IMVA also recommends using nascent iodine (minimum 5 drops in water/day) and you can read about this in Dr. Sircus’ essays. Its available from LL’s Magnetic Clay where you can also get Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil.