Thyroid Problems & Iodine, What You Need to Know

Sushi Food - Image: © Briana Blair

Too much iodine can be bad for your health

Many people don’t know it, but if you have an underactive thyroid or thyroiditis, foods and products with high iodine can actually make you more ill.

When you have a thyroid disorder one of the first things you want to do is get to a medical professional, get on the right medication, and get your condition under control. Unfortunately, most doctors know little or nothing about how your diet affects your condition. At best they’ll direct you to a dietician, at worst, you’re left to figure it out on your own. If you’re using natural or herbal medications for your condition that can lead to even more complications.

If you’re going a natural route and you have a natural health practitioner, they will often know about how foods will affect your health conditions, but not everyone can find or afford those practitioners. Regardless of who is giving your medical care, you should learn as much about your condition as possible so you can make educated decisions in regards to your doctor’s suggestions and treatment options. Knowing about how your diet affects your health is one of the things you should learn as much as possible about.

When I was first diagnosed with Thyroiditis, no one told me that I would have to change the way I ate in order for my medication to be fully effective and to keep myself from becoming more ill. When the time came when I could no longer afford doctors and I had to take my treatment into my own hands, I had no idea that the herbal treatments and the food I was eating were actually making me sicker rather than better. It’s something I had to research and figure out on my own. Because of that, I’m sharing this information with you now.

When you have thyroiditis or under-active thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, you need to be careful of your iodine intake. Too much iodine can impede your thyroid ability as well as cause drowsiness, disorientation, trouble swallowing and even mild hallucinations. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced all of these. You need a certain amount to be healthy, but too much can even lead to hyperthyroidism or coma.

If you look at the ingredients on many natural thyroid treatment products, you’ll see that one of the main components is iodine, typically in the form of kelp, bladderwrack or some other seaweed. If you’ve experienced side-effects from too much iodine, you should look for products that have less or no iodine. When it comes to foods you need to be careful of the following: Seaweed, shellfish, sushi, fish, dark green vegetables, garlic, onion, pineapple, iodized salt and soy products.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to stop eating these foods, it just means that you have to be careful. For example, if I eat shrimp, I can only have 5-6 average sized shrimp, and I can’t consume any other seafood or dark greens that day. I have actually experienced dizziness and mild hallucinations from consuming clams and broccoli in the same meal. How seriously too much iodine will affect you depend entirely on your body and the severity of your thyroid condition.

If you’re one of the people who has a thyroid condition and suffers ill effects from too much iodine, you can easily get it under control by watching what you eat. It may put a damper on some of your favorite meals, but you get used to it in time. For example, I still enjoy sushi, but in small amounts along with a hearty serving of rice or noodles so I don’t feel hungry. I still eat dark greens and a fair bit of garlic, just not in combination with other high iodine foods.

If you’ve ever experienced a metallic taste, throat inflammation, diarrhea, soreness of teeth and gums, burning in mouth and throat, upset  stomach, depression, or skin problems and you have a thyroid condition, it might be worth looking into what you’re eating to see if you might be getting more iodine than your body really needs. If so, you can just alter your diet until you find the right balance that will get you what you need without making you more ill.


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