The use of iodine as a precautionary measure against radiation

I dedicate the below article to all those affected by high levels of radiation.

All those who have got/getting bombed by depleted uranium lined ammunition and all our brothers and sisters affected by the latest nuclear tragedy…

I wonder if the Iraqi people, the Afghan people and their neighbours are even aware of the use of iodine to protect themselves from radiation? I guess not. Not by the alarming number of deformed children being born in Iraq. I don’t have any data for Afghanistan but I will be surprised if the story is not the same there too…. :-/

I have a close Polish friend who was affected by the Chernobyl disaster. She feels many people in Poland were damaged by the radiation including her… She has had many health issues including severe thyroid problems..

Below are a few paragraphs from Scientific American on the use of iodine as a precautionary measure against radiation:

“As a precautionary measure against radiation exposure, the Japanese have also distributed 230,000 units of potassium iodide tablets, comprising a stable form of iodine, to evacuation centers in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear power complexes, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Potassium iodide, which is available in the U.S. in 130- and 65-milligram doses (smaller doses are given to children), has been shown to  protect the thyroid gland from the radioactive form of iodine released by nuclear accidents or emergencies that could lead to thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer ended up being the biggest negative health impact caused by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster, according to a report issued last month by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. The report (pdf) specifies that more than 6,000 Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian residents who were children at the time of the disaster had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer as of 2006, the disaster’s 20th anniversary. Fifteen of these people had died as of 2005. The incidence of thyroid cancer in contaminated areas of the Ukraine and Belarus was triple that of normal thyroid cancer incidence in the area, although the study’s authors acknowledge that more attention was paid to medical examinations and improved record-keeping in those areas affected by the Chernobyl event.”

For all those who may want more information on general benefits of iodine please google the below link.

I found it very informative. I have quoted below a little bit of the information from this link, I hope it is helpful.

What can high-iodine foods do for you?

* Help ensure proper thyroid gland functioning

Concentrated food sources of iodine include sea vegetables (e.g kelp), yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, strawberries and mozzarella cheese. Fish and shellfish can also be concentrated sources of iodine.

What is Iodine?

If you backpack in the mountains, you may have used iodine tablets to purify your drinking water. Or, perhaps you’ve used an iodine-based disinfectant to clean a minor skin wound. But did you know that iodine is essential to life?

Iodine, a trace mineral, is required by the body for the synthesis of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). (T4 contains 4 iodine atoms. When one of the iodine atoms is stripped off of T4, it becomes T3, with 3 iodine atoms remaining.)

Under normal circumstances, your body contains approximately 20 to 30 mg of iodine, most of which is stored in your thyroid gland, located in the front of your neck, just under your voice box. Smaller amounts of iodine are also found in lactating mammary glands, the stomach lining, salivary glands, and in the blood.

How it Functions

What is the function of iodine?

As a component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), iodine is essential to human life. Without sufficient iodine, your body is unable to synthesize these hormones, and because the thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in every cell of the body and play a role in virtually all physiological functions, an iodine deficiency can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being.

Regulating thyroid hormones

The synthesis of thyroid hormones is tightly controlled. When the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood drops, the pituitary gland secretes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). As its name suggests, TSH then stimulates the thyroid gland to increase its uptake of iodine from the blood, so that more thyroxine (T4) can be synthesized. When necessary, thyroxine is then converted to the metabolically active triiodothyronine (T3), a process that involves removing one iodine atom from T4.

Several other physiological functions for iodine have been suggested. Iodine may help inactivate bacteria, hence its use as a skin disinfectant and in water purification. Iodine may also play a role in the prevention of fibrocystic breast disease, a condition characterized by painful swelling in the breasts, by modulating the effect of the hormone estrogen on breast tissue. Finally, researchers hypothesize that iodine deficiency impairs the function of the immune system and that adequate iodine is necessary to prevent miscarriages.

Deficiency Symptoms

What are deficiency symptoms for iodine?

In the early part of the 20th century, iodine deficiency was quite common in the United States and Canada. However, this problem has since been almost completely resolved by the use of iodized salt. In addition, iodine is now added to animal feed, which has increased the iodine content of commonly consumed foods, including cow’s milk.

Unfortunately, in countries where iodized salt is not commonly consumed, iodine deficiency remains a signficant problem. Dietary deficiency of this vital mineral results in decreased synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland, is usually the earliest visible symptom of iodine deficiency. (Goiter can occur for many other reasons as well, but iodine deficiency is among the most common causes worldwide.) The enlargement of the thyroid results from overstimulation of the thyroid gland by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), as the body attempts to produce increased amounts of thyroid hormone.

Goiter is more common in certain geographical areas of the world where iodine is lacking in the diet and where selenium is lacking in the soil. (Selenium is directly involved with certain activities of the thyroid gland.) (and immunity in general)

Iodine deficiency may eventually lead to hypothyroidism, which causes a variety of symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, weakness and/or depression. Interestingly, iodine deficiency can also cause hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by weight loss, rapid heart beat, and appetite fluctations.

Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy or infancy causes cretinism, a condition characterized by hypothyroidism leading to failure of the thyroid gland and/or severe mental retardation, stunted physical growth, deafness, and spasticity. If discovered in its initial stages, cretinism can be corrected with iodine supplementation.

Toxicity Symptoms

What are toxicity symptoms for iodine?

Accidental overdose of iodine from medications or supplements in amounts exceeding one gram may cause burning in the mouth, throat and stomach and/or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dirarrhea, weak pulse, and coma.

It is difficult to take in too much iodine from food sources alone. It is estimated that men and women consume at most 300 mcg and 210 mcg of iodine per day, respectively. In general, even high intakes of iodine from food are well-tolerated by most people.

However, in certain circumstances, excessive consumption of iodine can actually inhibit the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thereby leading to the development of goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism. Excessive iodine intake may also cause hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer, and/or iodermia (a serious skin reaction).

In an attempt to prevent these symptoms of iodine toxicity, the Institute of Medicine established the following Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (TUL) for iodine:

* 1-3 years: 900 mcg
* 4-8 years: 300 mcg
* 9-13 years: 600 mcg
* 14-18 years: 900 mcg
* 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
* Pregnant women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
* Pregnant women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
* Lactating women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
* Lactating women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg

It is important to note that if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease (for example, Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s disease) or if you have experienced an iodine deficiency at some point in your life, you may be more susceptible to the dangers of excessive iodine consumption, and may, therefore, need to monitor your intake of iodine more carefully.

Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing

How do cooking, storage, or processing affect iodine?

Food processing practices often increase the amount of iodine in foods. For example, the addition of potassium iodide to table salt to produce “iodized” salt has dramatically increased the iodine intake of people in developed countries. In addition, iodine-based dough conditioners are commonly used in commercial bread-making, which increases the iodine content of the bread.

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