Your thyroid gland produces the hormones that control and regulate your metabolism. Iodine is the fuel it runs on. Too little iodine and you may experience hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid does not produce enough hormones. Conversely, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. As a metabolism regulator, overproduction impacts the body at the cellular level. This can ultimately lead to symptoms such as weight loss, anxiety, fatigue, hyperactivity, and a general intolerance to heat. Cardiac shock and death can also occur in extreme cases.
The most common causes for this hormone overproduction are Grave’s Disease (an autoimmune disorder), inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), or thyroid nodules that create and release excess thyroxine. More rare causes include medications such as Amiodarone (an anti-arrhythmia drug) overconsumption of thyroid hormone tablets, or consumption of processed or ground beef contaminated with thyroid tissue.
And, while somewhat rare, over ingestion of iodine, a precursor element of thyroxine, has also been reported as a cause.
Balance is important in all aspects of life, especially nutrition. While iodine deficiency plagues much of the world, consuming too much iodine can also be a problem. Dietary sources high in iodine, such as kelp, if taken in extreme abundance, can introduce too much iodine into the body and create an iodine-induced hyperthyroidism. Iodine used for medical reasons, such as an antiseptic on a hospital dressing, as a contrast agent, or from the administration of solutions containing iodine can also lead to its development.
While too much iodine can induce hyperthyroidism, iodine can, oddly enough, also be the solution.
Iodine can be used to slow thyroid hormone release. Potassium iodide, Lugol’s solution, or, my personal preference, nascent iodine, can be used to initiate this effect. Applied in this way, iodine can halt complications like those of a Thyroid Storm, where the thyroid overproduces and over releases thyroid hormones leading to serious and potentially fatal effects.
In some cases, small amounts of Iodine-131 (a radioactive iodine) will be applied to slow thyroid hormone production. Studies of individuals exposed to iodine-131 radiation have shown a consistent development of hypothyroidism, a condition of reduced thyroid hormone output. In medical applications, only the smallest amount is used to achieve the necessary result.
Conditions like hyperthyroidism can lead to serious complications – heart problems, osteoporosis, problems with the eyes from vision to physically bulging eyes, and thyroid storm can create life-threatening situations. Taking iodine supplements maintains a healthy iodine level and is the best method to promote thyroid health and function.