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Why Test Iodine

The identification and treatment of an iodine deficiency has obvious benefits. In order to determine the daily amount of essential iodine required for whole body sufficiency, an Iodine Loading Test must be performed. This test is based on the premise that the more iodine-deficient the body is, the more ingested iodine is retained, and the less is excreted in the urine.

 

The three basic steps of the test are as follows:

  1. Collection of an initial urine sample before the ingestion of iodine in order to establish a baseline level.
  2. The ingestion of iodine/iodide tablets (generally 50mg)
  3. Collection of subsequent urine voids for the next 24 hours. The iodine in both samples is then measured and a percentage reflecting the "spill" of iodine is calculated. This simple test can prove to be profoundly useful in guiding treatment for numerous conditions including several endocrine imbalances.

Every cell in the body contains and utilizes iodine. Essential for life, iodine has many effects on the body: hormone production, nerve and muscle function, metabolism, tissue growth and repair, and cell respiration.

It has been estimated that approximately one third of the world's population is iodine deficient, and studies in the United States have suggested that the number may be even higher, with some estimates as high as 95%.¹ Iodine deficiencies can occur not only because of inadequate intake, but also due to the damaging toxins we are exposed to every day. Given the various functions of iodine in the body, it is easy to see how even a slight deficiency can cause widespread problems. An especially interesting area of study in iodine deficiency is the field of hormone balancing. Iodine is a crucial ingredient in the delicate balance of the endocrine system, and deficiencies have been implicated in conditions such as diabetes, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS), fibrocystic breast disease, increased breast cancer risk and most commonly goiter.

More than 100 years ago, iodine was called "the universal medicine". Recent research may prove this to be true. Much promising research has been conducted on the use of iodine to treat fibrocystic breast disease, as iodine concentrates in and is secreted by the mammary glands. Normal breast architecture requires adequate iodine, and in a deficient state, the breasts and thyroid compete for available iodine. Hyperplasia may be induced in these glands. Estrogen production increases with an iodine deficiency, thus causing an increased sensitivity to estrogen by breast tissue. As early as twenty years ago The Lancet reported that iodine deficiency predisposes one to an increased risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.² Assessing iodine levels and the imbalance of hormones is the key to lowering that risk.

A study conducted on twelve diabetics showed dramatic improvements of HA1C and blood glucose levels after supplementation with 50 mg of iodine daily, with 50% of the patients able to completely stop their diabetes medications.³ The same study author monitored five PCOS patients who, on the same iodine dosage experienced a regulation of their periods, disappearance of ovarian cysts, and control of their diabetes.

 

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An iodine loading test is based on the premise that the more iodine-deficient the body is, the more ingested iodine is retained, and the less is excreted in the urine.  The three basic steps of the test are as follows:

1. collection of an initial urine sample before the ingestion of iodine in order to establish a baseline   level,
2. the ingestion of iodine/iodide tablets (generally 50mg) and
3. collection of subsequent urine voids for the next 24 hours.

The iodine in both samples is then measured and a percentage reflecting the “spill” of iodine is calculated. This simple test can prove to be profoundly useful in guiding treatment for numerous conditions including several endocrine imbalances.

The skin test will not accurately assess the body’s tissue stores of Iodine. The skin test will only reflect the local absorption of liquid iodine at that site.  And, since 88 % of the Iodine applied to the skin will evaporate, only 12 percent of the applied iodine will be absorbed.

Additionally, this Iodine evaporation increases with increased air temperatures and decreased atmospheric pressure, so depending on geographical location there will be a substantial difference in skin patch results. Note also that the yellow color of iodine will disappear when reduced to iodide by the skin since iodide is white. So it is thought that this is not so much a reflection of Iodine deficiency (when the yellow color leaves) but the expected conversion to the iodide (white) form. In conclusion, the skin test is not an effective means for evaluating iodine deficiency.  Guy Abrahams MD concisely summarizes it thusly: “…the iodine patch test is not a reliable method to assess whole body insufficiency for iodine.  Many factors play a role in the disappearance of the yellow color of iodine from the surface of the skin…the iodine/iodide loading test is much more accurate”.

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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.