Iodine: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

Iodine is an essential trace element required for healthy functioning of the thyroid gland and for normal growth and development.

• It is mainly consumed as iodide salts from sea salt, shellfish, seawater fish and vegetables.

• Iodine is essential for the manufacture of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are hormones that influence growth, maturation, thermogenesis, oxidation, myelination of the CNS and the metabolism of all tissues.

• Iodine supplementation is commonly used to prevent and treat deficiency. There is also some evidence that it may reduce pain in fibrocystic breast disease and cyclic mastalgia and suggestive evidence of a protective role against breast cancer; however, rigorous research is required to confirm these observations.

• Current evidence points to widespread mild to moderate iodine deficiency in Australia, suggesting that dietary intake is inadequate and supplementation or fortification of foods with additional iodine may be required.

Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions

What will this supplement do for me?

Adequate intake of iodine is critical for healthy thyroid function and normal growth and development. Ensuring adequate intake becomes critical during pregnancy and breastfeeding when the infant is solely dependent on the mother’s intake for normal growth and brain development. Currently there is some suggestive evidence that adequate iodine particularly during the female reproductive years may be protective against breast cancer and supplementation may relieve symptoms of breast pain in fibrocystic breast disease and cyclic mastalgia.

When will it start to work?

The time frames depend on the indication it is being used to treat and the level of deficiency. In the case of breast pain, studies suggest 3 months of treatment are required to attain significant symptom relief.

Are there any safety issues?

People with pre-existing thyroid conditions should only increase iodine intake under professional supervision. Doses in excess of the RDI should be avoided unless under the supervision of a medical practitioner.