You may run low on iodine if you swim in...

You may run low on iodine if you swim in chlorinated waters like a pool or Jacuzzi. (May 25, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Dear Pharmacist:
I saw your Facebook post on iodine and have hypothyroidism. I”m convinced I’m deficient, tell me more about deficiency and how to feel better? — E.P., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Iodine is so important and you may run low if you swim in chlorinated swimming pools, drink certain beverages or brush your teeth with typical toothpaste.

Iodine is one of the components that helps make thyroid hormone. It starts out as thyroxine or T4 for short. The “4” refers to the number of iodine molecules bound on to the “T” which stands for tyrosine. Thyroid hormone is just iodine and tyrosine glued together. At some point, one of the iodine molecules leave, and you’re left with T3 which is your body’s fuel. T3 wakes you up and burns fat, it makes you pretty. Doctors can’t agree on what the best range is. I think you’ll feel well if your T3 is between 3.5 - 4.2.

The thyroid gland is the only part of the body that has cells capable of absorbing iodine, which it gets from food, iodized salt, seaweed but it doesn’t get nearly enough. I was shocked when I learned that the American Thyroid Association reported that about 40 percent of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency. I think part of the problem is that foods grown in mineral-deficient soils are less nutritious. Bring in chemicals called halides such as fluorine, chlorine and bromine. These halides are annoying bullies and race for the same spot on the cell that iodine does, the bullies win.

Who are the bullies? For example, a very popular sports electrolyte drink contains bromine, your pool and Jacuzzi contain chlorine and most toothpastes contain fluoride. It’s not any one punch, it’s the cumulative effect. You know how you love that new car smell? Some of it is off-gassing of bromine, and you’re breathing it in. Your thyroid gets upset.

These bully halides are drug muggers of your iodine, they could cause deficiency. This increases your risk for becoming hypothyroid: Hair loss, depression, always feeling cold, weight gain, brittle fingernails, constipation, pale, dry skin. Did I mention fatigue? Oh yeah, it’s constant and you wake up only after that triple shot latte.

Iodine deficiency is not always the only cause for hypothyroidism. Your doctor can test you so don’t take iodine indiscriminately because it can cause hyperthyroidism and nodules. If you read my 24-Hour Pharmacist book, you’d know that I only recommend supplements that contain both “iodine” and “iodide” because different tissues of the body respond better to certain forms of Iodine. The thyroid gland loves iodide while the breasts and prostate crave iodine. That’s why I recommend either I-throid capsules, or Iodoral tablets (however, those tablets contain pharmaceutical glaze in case you are sensitive). Health food stores can order either of these for you, or buy online. I don’t like liquid iodine supplements, they usually taste unpleasant and I’m never sure of consistency from drop to drop.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your disease. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. To ask her a question or to learn more about your health, visit

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