Tag Archives: iodine

Conditions to consider if you’ve been mysteriously sub-par for a long time

Updated August 14, 2017.

Here’s a list of conditions I’ve investigated over the years as I tried to solve my health problems. You’ve no doubt heard of some of them but might think the symptoms don’t apply to you, or might have been given the wrong test or had your test results evaluated with the wrong lab ranges. All but two of the items listed (Lyme disease and mold / biotoxin poisoning) have the benefit of being easy (if not cheap) to test for or at least rule out.

You cannot trust your doctor to know the right lab ranges, so if you do have tests taken, make sure you arrange to have copies of the test results sent to you. I can’t be the only person who had a ferritin so low I couldn’t even sit up straight, and yet was told repeatedly over the years that my iron levels were fine.

B12 deficiency. This requires two or ideally three tests: the usual one, plus two you’ll have to specifically ask your doctor for and which your insurance company might not cover. If you are already taking B12 supplements, the tests will not be accurate, a fact your doctor might not be aware of. The book Could It Be B12 has up-to-date info, or if your brain fog isn’t too bad you can look at the intro docs at the Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Commonly Misdiagnosed forum.

Bromide poisoning. This substance is everywhere in our environment and food supply, and because of its link to breast cancer, sites about that topic have the most info. Here’s a short intro on the subject. This condition tends to go hand in hand with iodine deficiency (see below).

Food reactions. This seems really obvious, but it might be that you are reacting to a certain category of food but haven’t tried enough types of foods in that category to make the connection. If you’re lucky, it might be a category connected to a deficiency you can correct. For example, oxalates lower zinc levels, salicylates lower vitamin K, and goitrogens can lower iodine.

Histamine: the Low (histapenia), the High (histadelia), and the Intolerant. People think of histamine in terms of allergies, but your histamine can go awry for non-allergy related reasons and cause all sorts of wackiness, many involving your mental state. (“Histamine intolerance” refers to having a body that wanders into histadelia territory too easily.)

If I have this right, two main culprits are behind high histamine – wonky methylation and/or? low DAO enzyme levels. This article on histamine intolerance describes it in terms of low DAO. This article on the effect of brain histamine levels focuses on methylation. Ignore the fact that histamine is spelled wrong for a third of the article. Also be warned that the author is behind the times in her belief that folic acid and vitamin B12 should not be used for histadelia. There are now methylated versions of each on the market that are used to treat methylation issues.

Iodine deficiency. This deficiency is getting more and more common but misconceptions abound. For one thing, what doctors assume are hyperthyroid reactions to iodine are in fact usually bromide detox symptoms. Drs. Guy E. Abraham and David Brownstein have books on the subject. A primer is at Breast Cancer Choices. The Yahoo Iodine Group also has intro documents. (Be sure to read the bit about how they tracked down the source of the oft-repeated warning about iodine causing heart failure.)

Iron deficiency. This requires four lab tests to evaluate correctly. Stop the Thyroid Madness has a page on recommended tests and lab ranges and how to take iron supplements. If you’ve lost hair due to low iron, you’ve probably read in your internet research that your ferritin level has to be in the 70s for three months before your hair will grow back.

Long-term effects of prescription drugs or supplements. Some prescription drugs will affect your biochemistry for 15 years, but your doctor will tell you they are out of your system in a few months. Xanax, for example, can disastrously affect your levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is involved in sleep. Also see the books Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen, Supplement Your Prescription by Hyla Kass, and The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs by Ross Pelton and James LaValle. Blogger Monica Cassani at Beyond Meds also covers this subject a lot.

The same can be said of any supplement. If you ever took anything in large amounts for a long period of time, it might have affected levels of its cofactors. Vitamin D, for example, can lower vitamin K levels, among others. L-glutamine, often used in huge amounts by body builders, can deplete vitamin B6. Nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas — you know who you are — can deplete folate.

Lyme disease. This is significantly under-diagnosed. Mainstream doctors rely on an unreliable blood test for diagnosis and often won’t order the test if you don’t remember getting the stereotypical bullseye rash, which half of patients don’t get anyway. Unfortunately the far more accurate test (about 75%, said one alterna-doc) by the company Igenex is upwards of $750. The good new is you don’t need a prescription.

Mold or biotoxin poisoning. One of the first doctors to bring this to the public’s attention was Ritchie Shoemaker. His books are a good place to start. I also recommend the pdfs put out by a citizen science group made up of a group of his former followers, who are making many new discoveries about effective treatment and about mold behavior. Some of their findings about recovering from mold and other biotoxin poisoning, borne out of personal experience, differ significantly from Shoemaker’s opinions. For one thing, the group has found that mold remediation of a home rarely works when someone has reached a certain level of illness, because it cannot eliminate the toxins themselves, only the mold spores. A significant percentage of “moldies” have also been diagnosed with Lyme.

Pyroluria. In pyroluria, the body can’t process sufficient vitamin B6. You can be born with it, in which case your life probably sucks, or it can develop from a long-term deficiency. Convincing your doctor to test for it might not be easy, but you can arrange it yourself for about $129. I used The Bio-Center Laboratory in Wichita, Kansas. The test does not require a prescription or blood draw but it does require careful handling — refrigeration, close timing, etc. Here is a list of symptoms.

Thyroid wonkiness. Most doctors only test TSH and not the other hormones, and use the wrong lab ranges to evaluate results. Stop the Thyroid Madness has lists of recommended lab work and optimal lab values.

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for this list.

My experience with the Perfect Health Diet’s supplement plan

by guest blogger Steph

Steph is maharani at Midlife Makeover Year, where she’s exploring new approaches to her health, diet, attitude, family life, and shoes, among other things. She is also one of my few commenters to refrain from mentioning w-bcam s-x, for which I will be eternally grateful. — mr

When I went on the Perfect Health Diet plan, I hoped to clean up my eating habits and address some of my thyroid issues through food choices. As it happens, the PHD plan is not just about food; there is actually a pretty aggressive recommended supplement plan. (Aggressive, that is, for me, as I’ve traditionally been a “multi-plus-maybe-some-vitamin-D” person.) Since the supplement plan didn’t involve drastically cutting sugar or giving up the fresh, hot gluten-filled rolls I was habitually baking for my family (as the food plan does, sigh), I did the pills first.

Because I was not expecting to get any bang for my vitamin and mineral buck, I didn’t watch for any reactions, good or bad, that I might have to this or that supplement. I didn’t take a scientific approach to starting on a new pill or capsule. I included each recommended supplement in my morning cocktail as it arrived in the mail. Pretty quickly (thanks to Amazon Prime), I had added the following to my multi-vitamin and 1000 IUs of vitamin D3: vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin K2 (100 mcg), copper (2 mg), chromium (200 mcg), iodine (500 mcg), magnesium (400 mg), and selenium (200 mcg).

Within a few days after I was on everything, I noticed a major change, not physically, but mentally — a major reduction in OCD symptoms and general anxiety. I was first struck while I was driving to the food store. I had a feeling of competence and ease. I was not gripping the steering wheel. I was, in fact, steering with one hand. This is not something I do. Generally, I drive waiting for an accident, acutely aware of my killing potential. But now I felt…not indifferent to others’ wellbeing, by any means, but as capable as the other drivers on the road.

This was strange! And it took a little mental work for me to accept that perhaps I felt like a competent driver because I am one, not because I was suddenly drugged and delusional.

A few days later, I began to feel that I was perhaps a bit too mellow. In poking around a little, I learned that the recommended dose for magnesium for women is 200 mg (400 mg is the recommended dose for men). Also, I have low blood pressure, and I was concerned that too much magnesium would lower it even more. So I bumped my dose down. That felt more natural.

Then, the real test: I had an upset in my personal life, the sort of thing that generally sets me off in a spiral of obsessing, “phoning in” my obligations to my sons, driving my husband crazy, clenching my jaw, eating obsessively, and just generally getting sucked into a vortex of negativity and pulling my family and friends down with me. Only I didn’t. I was upset for a bit, processed the situation, and moved on. This was major, and completely unexpected.

With minimal research (laziness being central to my character), I learned that many folks with OCD find symptom relief with selenium supplementation, so I’ve decided that this was likely key to my newfound mental health improvement. I’ve taken magnesium in the past with no reduction in OCD symptoms.

I may in the near future try eliminating selenium for a bit to see if my OCD symptoms ramp up. The trick will be finding a “good” time to invite that lovely obsessing back into my psyche.

If you grapple with OCD, you might want to give selenium a try. Note that too much selenium is toxic, so monitor your intake. And if you regularly eat Brazil nuts, you are already getting a big hit of selenium, so be careful.

I have since stopped taking the copper, iodine, and vitamin K2. My multi-vitamin already included the recommended amount of copper and I became concerned about taking too much. The iodine was making my thyroid feel “wonky.” I have since switched from sea salt to regular, supermarket iodized salt, and this is working better for me. I stopped the K2 after I developed a superficial blood clot on my leg. So far as I know, K2 assists the body’s clotting mechanism, but doesn’t cause blood clots. Nevertheless, I figure I probably clot OK on my own.

Get thee behind me, methyl bromide

For anyone out there wondering to what extent the pesticide methyl bromide builds up in our bodies, I offer my recent bromide-detox experience after I switched to organic chocolate.

After seven months on iodine I still can’t seem to lower the dose below 100 mg a day without losing its benefits — mostly increased energy and concentration — which is getting a little tedious and expensive. In theory you shouldn’t need more than 15 mgs or so of it once you’ve corrected a deficiency. I found a few people on various forums who are experiencing the same thing and who suspect it’s because they haven’t removed all the bromide sources from their diets. The only one I had left was chocolate, so two weeks ago I switched to a brand of chocolate that isn’t sprayed with methyl bromide.

About bromides: they are chemicals used in baked goods, citrus drinks, fire retardants in mattresses, carpets, etc., and pesticides such as methyl bromide, which is used extensively on chocolate, among other crops. (The theobromine in chocolate is not a bromide.) In the 1970s, the US and other countries banned a type of sedative medication called bromides due to their potential to cause brain toxicity. For similar reasons, and because of its ozone-depleting properties, the pesticide is also being phased out around the world.

Bromides also displace iodine in the body (as do chlorine and flouride). When you take iodine, it in turn displaces the bromine and you feel lousy for a few days or weeks or months as it exits your body. It is thought that the symptoms associated with iodine toxicity are in fact these bromide detox symptoms.

When I started my iodine experiment I had already quit most bromide-containing foods and I figured that pesticide-sprayed chocolate wasn’t a significant enough source to bother with. It is possible that denial was also a factor in my attitude. As for environmental bromide sources, avoiding them is pretty hard. The “organic” mattresses I priced a few years ago, made without chemical fire retardants, started at $3,500.

The Sunspire organic chocolate I chose as a replacement has almost the same ingredients as my usual crank, minus some milk fat and whatever secret mind-control ingredient Nestle uses. After two days I started experiencing a mild version of the effects most people get when they start iodine, namely acne, constant headaches, a metallic taste, and a sore throat, plus a weird stomach stretching sensation that made me feel like a horse that got into something bad. I started drinking salt water a few times a day, which binds with the bromide and flushes it out faster. The symptoms were not as pronounced as they were when I first started iodine, but so far they have lasted three times longer.

Even more interesting is that on the second day of organic-only, my cravings were noticeably less. Other factors might be involved: I recently started shooting thiamine (vitamin B1), which is related to carb metabolism (more on that in a later post), and I also stepped up my protein intake a few weeks ago, which some say is linked to sugar cravings. But still, the timing was pretty suspicious.

Another unexpected side effect of repletion: expanded horizons

I wrote earlier of some unexpected side effects of correcting a deficiency, and here’s a new one: you learn a lot about Japanese culture. After I started researching iodine deficiency and decided to experiment with that, I was visited with cravings for sushi and Japanese movies.

What with their seafood-laden diet, the Japanese ingest about 50 times more iodine than we do every day. They also have a surprisingly low incidence of a few ailments associated with modern lifestyles — breast cancer, for one — which got Western researchers thinking about what big doses of it might do.

As to why the sushi craving appeared…maybe my body, after years of deprivation, had forgotten it ever needed iodine, and when reminded of it with a flood of potassium iodide went gung-ho on the bio-signals. Or maybe iodine needs some other nutrient to work ideally and that something is in sushi. I do not know.

FYI, a sushi addiction isn’t easy when 1) you are trying to be fiscally responsible and 2) you’re gluten-free. All I can find to eat at my local supermarket-sushi purveyor is the salmon-and-avocado roll. Raw tuna is too sweet to my taste, and anything with “crab” is actually cod or some other white fish mixed with wheat paste.

I also discovered that something in raw fish blocks the absorption of thiamin (vitamin B1). Silk worms do, too, so watch out for that.

As for the filmic experience, I had to order 16 Japanese-language movies from Netflix before I got that out of my system. I focused on contemporary movies made in the 1930s to the 1960s, back when the differences in our cultures were more pronounced.

Here’s what I learned from this immersion:

– traditional Japanese houses are miserable in the winter
– it’s not fun to be a prostitute in Japan
– it wasn’t fun to be a woman in medieval Japan
– in fact being a woman in Japan before the 1960s kinda sucked in general
– kimonos convey much about the wearer’s socioeconomic status and income. Made me understand more why we’ve sacrificed beauty in our clothes for the jeans-and-a-tee uniform.
– the Japanese spent a lot of time on food preparation, which was folded into their everyday customs. Not like here, except maybe on July 4 when we worship the barbecue.
– actors in Akira Kurosawa movies were not taught how to steer a horse in a humane fashion
– Mr. Kurosawa was insane with the hundreds-of-extras crowd shots
– the knee and ankle joints of the native Japanese are made out of the same stuff Gumby is made of. Otherwise they’d never be able to sit on the floor like that for a whole meal, never mind their entire lives.

Here’s what I watched:

Onibaba, 1964
An Autumn Afternoon, 1962 (my favorite)
A Story of Floating Weeds, 1934
Zero Focus, 1941
Osaka Elegy, 1936
Ikiru, 1952
Sisters of the Gion, 1936
Women of the Night, 1948
Kagemusha, 1980
The Hidden Fortress, 1958
Tokyo Story, 1953
Seven Samurai, 1954
Ugetsu, 1953
Sansho the Bailiff, 1954
Afraid to Die, 1960
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, 1960
Street of Shame, 1956
Red Angel, 1966
The Bad Sleep Well, 1960

Diagram of how various deficiencies can egg each other on

Soon after I discovered that typical guidelines about iodine are outdated and wrong (1), I came across information about vitamin K that made me realize the amounts I had been experimenting with were pathetically small. Also, it is possible that vitamin D supplements affect vitamin K, which for me would explain a lot (2). This is yet another example of how difficult it is to find reliable info about all the nutrients and how they work in the body and interact with each other.

Here’s a diagram of how I suspect my iodine, vitamin K, vitamin D, zinc, and iron deficiencies have been interacting.

1: You can find a list of iodine references at the bottom of this Breast Cancer Choices’ iodine investigation page.

2: From the World’s Healthiest Foods vitamin D page:

“Vitamin D helps to regulate the production of certain calcium-binding proteins that function in the bones and kidneys. Because these binding proteins are also dependent on vitamin K, interrelationships between vitamin D and vitamin K have become the subject of active research investigation.”

Seven fomenters of brain fog

Several factors combined together to cause me years of spaciness and difficulty concentrating. Highlights of this period included giving the wrong last name when called on in class and almost getting my head wedged between two floors of a department store while riding the escalator. Most of the causes were ferreted out after I went gluten-free, and now I can face a big project and a tight deadline without sweating it too much, given enough Pepsi.

The problem is that metabolizing an acre’s worth of high-fructose corn syrup when you’re 25 is one thing; now it’s quite another. I’m still looking for the final pieces to this puzzle.

The main causes were:

1. and 2. High histamine, caused at least in part by low iodine

I discovered this by accident when I was working day and night on a project while playing host to a cold. Out of desperation I started mainlining vitamin C — something like 1,000 mg an hour, all day. After two days of that I realized I was thinking a lot better than normal. After some research I discovered that vitamin C lowers histamine; that in some people histamine is too high all the time, and not always with allergy-like symptoms; and that histamine occurs naturally in food, some much more so than others. Now I finally had part of the answer as to why certain foods had recently started making me spacey: eggs, rice, large amounts of protein, kimchee.

The second part of the question was why I had it now, when I hadn’t before. An uncorrected, and thus steadily worsening, iodine deficiency would explain it. According to some experts, it is rampant now that we avoid (iodized) salt. Insufficient iodine will cause a rise in histidine, which the body converts into histamine.

Another theory is that I’m not making enough of a certain enzyme, amylase, that breaks down carbs. Which with a recovering celiac’s innards wouldn’t be surprising.

3. Leaky gut

A classic celiac legacy. A damaged gut can cause dairy to be only partially broken down, and it so happens that some of those only-partially-broken-down particles happen to be in the form of opioids, as in opium, which then escape into the bloodstream and make you loopy.

4. Iron deficiency

Common enough among all women, never mind celiacs. For various reasons though, it was never possible for me to get my levels up to ideal numbers.

5. Folate deficiency

Folic acid, a type of folate supplement, never did much for me so I never investigated it very far. When I learned that it’s not a very efficient form of folate, I tried the superior form (methylfolate) and discovered that large doses made a noticeable difference in my ability to concentrate. However, at a certain amount — which sadly is also the amount that makes my fingernails look REALLY GOOD — it then raises histamine, which leaves me back where I started it made me really spacey, which felt like elevated histamine. I am not clear on what that was — my understanding is that unmethylated folic acid can raise your histamine if you’re a poor methylator, but that methylfolate would not. I really don’t know.

6. SAD, which is probably vitamin D deficiency

If I don’t use my high-intensity lamp in the fall and winter, I turn into a zombie and eat everything in sight. And stop sleeping. And think thoughts that make me look around for Hank Williams.

7. Insufficient essential fatty acids (EFAs)

These helped for about a year, then made my insomnia worse. Now they give me scary headaches AND total insomnia.

Other suspects I’ve looked at in my brain fog investigation were candida, digestive enzymes, vitamin B12, zinc, and calcium and magnesium. The latter two, once I got levels up to normal, reduced jitteriness and listlessness, which made it easier to concentrate. The rest did not seem to be involved. YMMV.