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Iodine, Metabolism and Oxygen

Published on July 14, 2017

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Though doctors and people do not normally associate iodine with oxygen, we have to see that iodine-carrying thyroid hormones are essential for oxygen-based metabolism. First increases of iodine and thyroid hormones increase red blood cell mass and increase the oxygen disassociation from hemoglobin.[1] Thyroid hormones have a significant influence on erythropoiesis, which is the process that produces red blood cells (erythrocytes).

The most common thyroid dysfunctions, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism affect blood cells and cause anemia with different severity. Thyroid dysfunction and iodine deficiency induces other effects on blood cells such as erythrocytosis, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and in rare cases causes’ pancytopenia. It also alter RBC indices include MCV, MCH, MCHC and RDW.

Thyroid hormone increase oxygen consumption, increase mitochondrial size, number and key mitochondrial enzymes. Meaning iodine increases plasma membrane Na-K ATPase activity, increases futile thermogenic energy cycles and decreases superoxide dismutase activity.

Mitochondria, by virtue of their biochemical functions, are a natural candidate as a direct target for the calorigenic effects of thyroid hormones. Going further, we can see that mitochondria are highly dependent on thyroid hormones (thus iodine) for their very existence. Thyroid hormones are like the “signal” to make more mitochondria. Thyroid hormone (T3) has a profound effect on mitochondrial biogenesis; without T3, there will be less or no mitochondria. On the other hand, if mitochondria are damaged or depleted due to some reason other than too little T3, then existing T3 has “nothing to act on.” You can have all the T3 in the world, but without mitochondria, there will not be any energy. Again, you can see the circular downward spiral of both host cell and mitochondria that can occur if either 1) too little or no T3 exists, or 2) too little or no mitochondria exist.

Summing it up we see that the total number of mitochondria in cells, and thus the total number of rechargeable ATP/ADP batteries, is dictated by the amount of functional thyroid hormone present in cells. If normal levels of thyroid hormone are reduced, the body develops hypothyroidism and the number of mitochondria in individual’s cells is restricted. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition that is implicated in what is called metabolic syndrome (formerly known as syndrome X).

What is the basic cause of hypothyroidism? Iodine deficiency! Without iodine, the thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. This leaves cells unable to function normally. In response, the body develops hypothyroidism.

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Metabolismis defined as “taking food and converting it to energy”. Our bodies need oxygen on a moment to moment basis and the higher the metabolism the more oxygen is needed. Cells will begin to rapidly deteriorate without adequate supply of oxygen or when metabolism, due to iodine deficiencies go south. Efficiency of oxygen conversion into cellular energy is a key to the use of its energy; therefore, oxygen has in effect its own metabolism. The body’s requirement for oxygen makes oxygen the most important nutrient needed by the body.

Nutrients that are commonly used by animal and plant cells in respiration include sugar, amino acids and fatty acids, and the most common oxidizing agent (electron acceptor) is molecular oxygen (O2). Note that the amount of energy produced for the four types of food is roughly proportional to the amount of oxygen use, so that the metabolic rate can be measured by measuring the rate of oxygen consumption. Almost every process in the body that uses energy gets it from ATP, and in the process converts it to ADP.

The thyroid gland is like a building thermostat sending a message to a furnace to produce heat. Unlike a thermostat, the thyroid does not send its message to a single furnace, but, instead, sends the message to zillions of mitochondria via the chemical thyroxin that they should burn more fuel to create more biochemical energy.

In order for the thyroid to send this “make more energy” message, the body needs ample amounts of iodine. There must be four atoms of iodine in each molecule of thyroxin (T4), the chemical that transmits the message to the mitochondria. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in iodine (because it is not in their food) with the result that the “make more energy” command is not communicated from the thyroid to the mitochondria. The consequence of this is low energy, low production of endorphins, and fat gain (because food energy is not converted to energy, but is instead stored as fat).

Oxygen levels are sensitive to a myriad of influences. Toxicity, emotional stress, physical trauma, infections, reduction of atmospheric oxygen, nutritional status, lack of exercise and especially improper breathing will affect the oxygen levels in our bodies. Now we have to see how important iodine and thyroid hormones are in this process as well.

Crucial Iodine

We can begin to see how iodine is important in cancer treatment, not only because it provokes cell apoptosis and kills viruses, bacteria and fungus on contact (infections cause as much as 40 percent of cancers) but also because iodine is crucial in metabolism and oxygen deliver to the cells. Any element that threatens the oxygen carrying capacity of the human body will promote cancer growth. Likewise, any therapy that improves the oxygen function can be expected to enhance the body’s defenses against cancer. In order for cancer to ‘establish’ a foothold in the body, it has to be deprived of oxygen. If these two conditions can be reversed cancer can, not only be slowed down, but it can actually be upended.

Oxygen, pH and Iodine

Dr. David Brownstein indicates that iodine is alkaline and the body uses iodine to recover from an acid state. One’s body pH value tells you how acidic or alkaline your body is relative to a neutral 7.0, and balanced body pH is essential for a healthy body and a major line of defense against sickness and disease. Most people do not know that pH is also a measure of oxygen and cell voltage. The more alkaline the more oxygen and the higher the cell voltage.

To maintain a balanced pH, your body pulls certain minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, from its tissues to neutralize acids in the blood. Iodine/iodide appears to be essential to this process because it is the key to metabolism and important with oxygen levels. If your body cannot do this successfully because you are deficient in the iodine (and thus low on energy), necessary for this process to occur, the acids accumulate in the body and cause health problems over time. The longer your pH remains below normal in the acid range and your deficiency is not corrected, the higher your risk that symptoms of various ailments will occur and increase in severity.

The most important factor in creating proper pH is increasing oxygen because no wastes or toxins can leave the body without first combining with oxygen. The more alkaline you are, the more oxygen your fluids can hold and keep. Oxygen also buffers/oxidizes metabolic waste acids helping to keep you more alkaline. Iodine sufficiency is one crucial key to oxygen sufficiency.

According to Annelie Pompe, a prominent mountaineer and world-champion free diver, alkaline tissues can hold up to 20 times more oxygen than acidic ones. When our body cells and tissues are acidic (below pH of 6.5-7.0), they lose their ability to exchange oxygen. Increases of carbon dioxide, bicarbonates and electrons lead to increased oxygen.

The quickest way to increase oxygen and pH is through the administration of sodium bicarbonate and that is why bicarbonate has always been a mainstay emergency room and intensive care medicine. Of course, when we increase oxygen and pH levels we are simultaneously increasing cellular voltage.

We can violently pull the rug out from under most pathogens by bombarding them with a blast of alkalinity, which is the same thing as blasting with oxygen when we take high dosages of iodine, along with supplying our immune system with plenty of magnesium, selenium and sulfur.

Oxygen is the Source of Health

Improving oxygen intake, uptake, and assimilation is critical to the body’s energy and as an inhibitor to disease and decay. Movement and exercise invites a need for more oxygen. To digest and assimilate food uses up oxygen. Every bodily function uses up oxygen in varying degrees.

Dr. D. Treacher and Dr. R. Leach write, “Mammalian life and the bioenergetic processes that maintain cellular integrity depend on a continuous supply of oxygen to sustain aerobic metabolism. Reduced oxygen delivery and failure of cellular use of oxygen occur in various circumstances and if not recognized result in organ dysfunction and death. Prevention, early identification, and correction of tissue hypoxia are essential skills. An understanding of the key steps in oxygen transport within the body is essential to avoid tissue hypoxia. Although oxygen is the substrate that cells use in the greatest quantity and on which aerobic metabolism and cell integrity depend, the tissues have no storage system for oxygen. They rely on a continuous supply at a rate that precisely matches changing metabolic requirements. If this supply fails, even for a few minutes, tissue hypoxaemia may develop resulting in anaerobic metabolism and production of lactate.”

Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1931 for his discovery that cancer was anaerobic: cancer occurs in the absence of free oxygen. As innocuous as this discovery might seem, it is actually a startling and significant finding worthy of a Nobel Prize. What it means is that cancer is caused by a lack of free oxygen in the body and therefore, whatever causes this drop in free oxygen to occur is a root cause of cancers.

Hypoxemia or what might be called “blocked oxidation,” is followed by fermentation of sugar in cells, which then leads to the primary condition upon which cancer, infectious and inflammatory processes feed. Viruses are “anaerobic” creatures, which thrive in the absence of oxygen. Yeast, mold and fungus live in an anaerobic environment. Most strains of harmful bacteria (and cancer cells) are anaerobic and are not comfortable in the presence of higher oxygen levels so doctors will find cancer cells easier to kill when oxygen levels are increased.

[1] Ann Intern Med. 1971; 74 (4):632-633.

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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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  • Michael

    Always love your posts… I ran into an issue with iodine with my father. He is 80 years old, and tends to develop skin cancers. He listens to me somewhat. I was once told that if someone changed your diaper, they will never really listen to you. I told him to load on Iodine for about 2 months as it will tend to fight cancer. (He did comply previously with a higher Vitamin D dose of 5000iu and has Vitamin D scores in the 50’s.) I sent him a bottle of Iodoral and he complied at 1 per day(12.5mg). At about 5-6 weeks in, he had a checkup and his thyroid hormones(just the 2) were unbalanced. His TSH was at the upper end and his T4 went to the lower end. The doc explained to him that he needed a retest in a month to recheck the numbers as it was looking as if thyroid meds were necessary. He called me, I told him to come off and his numbers normalized.
    I called an ND buddy of mine and all he could tell me is that some people do the opposite…
    That probably being true, it still did not give me a sense of conclusion. Thoughts?

    • Frances

      Michael, I’ve learned a lot from the Iodine Workshop on facebook, about supplementing with liquid iodine and/or Iodoral.

    • Mark Sircus

      From what you say I would not know what to conclude either…..I don’t go into all these tests because don’t particularly trust what they say……or conclude