The Latest on Iodine

The facts reported in the LA Times on Monday show the need for all of us to protect ourselves by taking the USDA Maximum Tolerable Intake Level of iodine! We recommend the following dosing: 1-3 years 200 mcg/day; 4-8 years 300 mcg/day; 9-13 years 600 mcg/day; 14-18 years 900 mcg/day; 19+ years 1100 mcg/day.

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USDA statistics show that many of us do not even get even the minimum daily requirement of iodine, especially pregnant and nursing women! Exposure to even very low levels of radioactive iodine-131 can damage the thyroid when we are iodine deficient.

Contrary to earlier proclamations, radiation detectors now report small elevations in radiation in California, and the Japanese situation is not improving. Risk of a major meltdown and massive radiation release is still on the table. If a meltdown did occur, there is almost no chance that we would receive high radiation doses which would require the 130 mg potassium iodide, and these “emergency pills” block thyroid function for 1-3 days. Those of us who are iodine deficient could, however, absorb enough airborne and dietary iodine-131 to reduce thyroid function.

The picture coming from US reactors is not reassuring. In California alone, 2 sites stand out for elevated risk.  According to the LA Times (March 21), the nuclear reactors perched on the California coast at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon may be under-designed and in a state of disrepair, putting all of us at risk.

San Onofre has 1 decommissioned reactor holding depleted fuel rods, and 2 active pressurized water reactors, built over 30 years ago, that are still in use. These reactors were built to late 1970’s standards, to withstand a 7.0 earthquake. The plant is 0.9 miles from the Christianitos fault, thought to be inactive. The Times states that federal regulators have cited the operator of the plant “dozens of times in recent years for safety violations that include failed emergency generators” (the cause of the Japanese failure) “improperly wired batteries and falsified fire safety data.”

The Diablo Canyon nuclear facility with 2 pressurized water reactors was originally built to withstand a 6.75 magnitude earthquake, and was “upgraded” to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. It is perched near 4 faults including the San Andreas, including a fault within 1 mile of the reactor. The Diablo Canyon plant was cited in 2009 for having emergency cooling valves stuck shut for over 18 months.

These facts are not a cause for panic, although they are a call for appropriate supplementation! Many of us are iodine deficient, causing a near epidemic of low thyroid function (borderline hypothyroidism). Supplementation with iodine, selenium and other natural thyroid support supplements is appropriate for all of us, and critical for pregnant and nursing women, as well as children.

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