The Halides and the Importance of Iodine

Iodine is a halide ion, which is a halogen atom bearing a negative charge. The halides are grouped together on the periodic table of elements and include fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine. Chloride and iodine/iodide are necessary for human life, while bromide and fluoride are not. All four halides compete with one another at receptor sites.

Too much of one particular halide can kick the others out – such as fluoride blocking the binding of iodine in the thyroid. This is called competitive inhibition. Unfortunately, we are getting exposed to a huge amount of bromide and fluoride in our food, water and environment which ultimately disrupts the optimal function of glands such as the thyroid.

If iodide status is adequate, fluoride levels should not impair production of the hormones, however if it is deficient then fluoride tends to win to the upper hand at binding sites. 

Bromide competes with chloride rather than iodine. If bromide is found to be elevated, unrefined salt (sodium chloride) and adequate hydration can assist with its removal, but must be done under the supervision of a physican due to a possible increase in blood pressure and fluid retention.

Iodine

Discovered in 1811 and first used in 1816 by Dr. William Prout for a patient with goiter, iodine, a rare element, ranks at 62nd in abundance of elements on Earth.

The oxidized form of iodine is preferentially taken up by the breast, prostate, stomach while the reduced form, iodide is preferred by the thyroid, salivary glands and skin.

Every cell of the body contains and utilizes iodine, albeit at varying concentrations. The glandular system is the most concentrated with the thyroid taking the prize at approximately 50mg at saturation. In an iodine depleted state, white blood cells or our immune cells can’t effectively guard against infection. There are no bacteria, fungi or parasite that has demonstrated resistance to iodine which also has apoptic properties against cancer cells.

Discovered in 1811 and first used in 1816 by Dr. William Prout for a patient with goiter, iodine, a rare element, ranks at 62nd in abundance of elements on Earth.

The oxidized form of iodine is preferentially taken up by the breast, prostate, stomach while the reduced form, iodide is preferred by the thyroid, salivary glands and skin.

Every cell of the body contains and utilizes iodine, albeit at varying concentrations. The glandular system is the most concentrated with the thyroid taking the prize at approximately 50mg at saturation. In an iodine depleted state, white blood cells or our immune cells can’t effectively guard against infection. Surprising, there are no bacteria, fungi or parasite that has demonstrated resistance to iodine which also has apoptic properties against cancer cells!

Are We Iodine Deficient?

The National Health and Nutrition Survey is conducted in the United States once ever decade. The goal is to determine vitamin and mineral toxicity levels as estimated from a cross-section of our population. During the 40-year period from 1972-2012, the NHANES showed an iodine decline of 50%! During this period, the incidence of thyroid illness, cancers of the breast, prostate, endometrium, pancreas and ovaries have all increased (source: Thyroid 2011. Vol. 21. Number 4, 2011)

Benefits of Iodine

So what is it about iodine that is so beneficial to the human body and cellular processes?

  1. Iodine elevates pH – it is an alkalizing agent
  2. Antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral properties
  3. Iodine is necessary for the production of all the hormones of the body
  4. A deficiency of this element causes mental retardation, goiter, hypothyroidism and is linked to thyroid cancer and other cancers. 

Natural Sources of Iodine

As it is a trace element, it is not very common in most foods. Ocean foods tend to have the highest amount, in particular the following:

  • Cod, sea bass, haddock, perch
  • Seaweed and other sea “vegetables”
  • Iodidez salt (sea salt, himalyan salts contain much less than iodized salt)

How to Evaluate Iodine Levels

Iodine levels can be assessed using blood, urine and saliva. We prefer to use urine in a post clearance test or in certain circumstances a pre and post loading clearance test. It is also recommended to test halides (Bromine, Fluoride, Chloride, Iodine) initially to determine if there is a competitive inhibition problem as this will affect the treatment direction.

Below is a sample report of the urine halides pre & post loading challenge we commonly use

If you have, or believe you may have a thyroid problem, call our office at (305) 448-2600 to schedule a functional medicine appointment today.