Thyroid and Iodine Controversy

There is a debated controversy in regard of iodine need and thyroid function from time. I have been personally affected having thyroid disease, precisely Hashimoto’s, which is the autoimmune form of the disease and that affects millions in the world’s population at this time.

It is well recognized that hypothyroidism with goiter caused from iodine deficiency requires iodine supplementation while still controversial the need for iodine with autoimmune hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s where any extra from supplements or even diet must be avoided otherwise cause of major inflammation and development of thyroid autoantibodies, mainly anti-TPO, or anti-Thyroid peroxidase.

Thyroid peroxidase,(TPO) or iodide peroxidase, is an enzyme expressed mainly in the thyroid which metabolizes the synthesis of thyroid hormones through oxidation of iodide ions to make iodine atoms to add to tyrosine residues on thyroglobulin for the production of thyroid hormones, T1, T2,T3,T4. ( Wikipedia modified definition)

Here are different points of view from a variety of natural specialists of thyroid that I personally follow and trust.

Dr. Alan Christianson, naturopath, thyroid and adrenal specialist, and NY Times Best Seller is one of the major experts and representatives of this, he has treated in his books and written variety of articles in regard; he just published a recent one.

His thoughts from the most recent article:


Dr. Christianson was always expressing his concerns in regard of iodine supplementation and consequences on autoimmune thyroid disease.

Dr. Izabella Wentz, naturopath and thyroid pharmacist, NY Times Best Seller as well also agree with Dr. Alan Christianson in regard of the damage of iodine on Hasimoto’s thyroid diseases.

Part of her conclusions from an article titled “Iodine and Hashimoto”

“While a deficiency of iodine created hypothyroidism due to a lack of building materials for thyroid hormone, an excess of it also created hypothyroidism, but through a different mechanism. Today, iodine excess is recognized as a risk factor for developing autoimmune thyroid disease.

Iodine from foods and supplements is processed by the thyroid gland so that the body can effectively use it. During this process, hydrogen peroxide, a free radical, is released. In cases when the body has adequate levels of selenium and it is used properly, the selenium neutralizes the hydrogen peroxide. However, in cases of iodine excess, excess hydrogen peroxide can cause oxidative damage to the thyroid gland. Research has shown that high doses of iodine can trigger Hashimoto’s in people who are genetically predisposed to Hashimoto’s and may perhaps have certain “vulnerabilities” like a selenium deficiency.”

What we can learn from this is the importance of selenium, trace mineral, fundamental so as iodine for the body functions, selenium is particularly important for neutralizing the hydrogen peroxide, and it is also necessary for the production of glutathione, the best body antioxidant and neutralizer of toxins.

Dr. Wentz dedicate a whole chapter on iodine controversy in one of her famous books “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause.

Dr. Suzy Cohen, pretty famous thyroid naturopath and pharmacist and NY Times Best Seller seems to agree to the need of iodine in moderated doses especially if there are signs of deficiency like, fatigue, breast pain, hair loss and during pregnancy.

Her personal discussion in regard from this article:


Dr. Amy Myers is another famous thyroid specialist in the field of naturopathy, NY Time Best Seller as well.

This is what she comments in regard in an article titled: “Thyroid Health, and Iodine”

“The medical community agrees that sufficient levels of iodine are necessary for optimal thyroid function. In fact, the reason we all eat “iodized” salt is because public health experts around the world recognized how important iodine is for preventing thyroid dysfunction.

However, in the past few years there has been quite a bit of controversy over whether Hashimoto’s patients should take supplemental iodine. Some researchers advocate megadose of iodine, up to a hundred times the recommended daily dose. Although some practitioners and patients have seen success with this method, I do not recommend this for my own patients because extremely high levels of iodine can actually cause both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Iodine is part of the halogen family, which also includes fluorine, chlorine, and bromine. They all fall into the same column of the periodic table, which means they have similar properties. Fluorine, chlorine, and bromine are similar enough to iodine that your thyroid will suck them up and store them in place of iodine, effectively “displacing” iodine.”

She seems to believe in the importance of iodine for thyroid function in general and in the deficit instead due to the presence of the other halogens like fluoride, for example, in water and food supplies that the thyroid gland can confuse for iodine and incorporate in the hormone production, and for her this is one of the main reasons for thyroid disease is now epidemic. She also admits that high doses of iodine as some doctors recommend are potentially dangerous for thyroid.

A very simple explanation, accurate and easy to understand comes from this you tube video where this doctor, Dr. Justin Marchegiani, a functional medicine doctor, shows the mechanisms connected to the whole process of iodine capture and introduction in the thyroid gland, pathway and metabolism, and products of catabolism. Practically he agrees with the theory that iodine is not suggested with autoimmune thyroid disease because along a series of mechanisms will raise thyroid antibodies and this way causing more problems to the gland and course of the disease.

This the video:

He very well and in quite easy way explains the process of organogenesis of thyroid hormones from iodide to iodine, the conjugation of these with the amino acid tyrosine and product of catabolism that derives from, H2O2, hydrogen peroxide, which is a free radical and cause of oxidative stress and so of inflammation and damage.

Fortunately, this product can be converted in water, H2O, harmless and beneficial thanks to selenium, this is why selenium is so important for thyroid function.

His conclusions are that with goiter and which means iodine deficiency, “yes” to iodine, of course, with Hashimoto’s, the autoimmune thyroid disease ”no” to iodine because this will raise the antibodies and put more gasoline on fire, increase the damage of auto-destruction of the gland, especially if there is deficit of selenium.

Different analysis on a subject pretty much discussed and that as much as might look so obvious is still creating confusion and doubts if we consider that same exponents of naturopathy can be slightly disagree on the matter.

Thanks for reading

Mariarosaria M.


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