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Iodine is an element that is used by the thyroid. Humans cannot produce iodine, so it must be consumed. It is added to some foods and also to salt.

Iodine reduces thyroid hormone and can kill fungus, bacteria, and other microorganisms such as amoebas. Iodine deficiency is one of the most common and preventable world health problems. Most iodine is found in the ocean, where it is concentrated by sea life, particularly in seaweed.

Iodine is taken by mouth to prevent and treat iodine deficiency and its consequences, including goiter and some thyroid disorders. A specific kind of iodine called potassium iodide is also US FDA approved to prevent thyroid damage after a radioactive accident. Iodine is also used for pink eye, gum infections, wound healing, and many other conditions, but there is limited scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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  • Iodine deficiency.  Oral iodine supplements, including iodized salt, are effective for improving iodine status and reducing goiter size in adults and children. Iodine supplementation is also recommended during pregnancy in areas at risk for iodine deficiency.
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  • Radiation exposure.  Oral potassium iodide prevents thyroid uptake of radioactive iodine. However, it does not protect against other sources of radiation.
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  • Catheter-related infections.  Topical povidone-iodine seems to be less effective than chlorhexidine for preventing infections from intravascular catheters. Furthermore, it does not seem to reduce the risk of catheter-related urinary tract infections.
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  • Prematurity.  Maternal iodine supplementation does not seem to impact neurological development in premature infants.
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When taken by mouth: Iodine is likely safe for most people when taken in doses less than 1100 mg daily. Large amounts or long-term use of iodine is possibly unsafe. Adults should avoid prolonged use of higher doses without proper medical supervision. Higher intake can increase the risk of side effects such as thyroid problems. Iodine in larger amounts can cause metallic taste, soreness of teeth and gums, burning in mouth and throat, stomach upset, and many other side effects.

When applied to the skin: Iodine is likely safe for most people when appropriately diluted products are used. A 2% iodine solution is an FDA-approved prescription product.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Iodine is likely safe when taken by mouth in recommended amounts or when applied to the skin appropriately using an approved product (2% solution). Do not take more than 1100 mcg of iodine daily if you are over 18 years old; do not take more than 900 mcg of iodine daily if you are 14-18 years old. Iodine is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in high doses. Higher intake might cause thyroid problems in the baby.

Children: Iodine is likely safe when taken by mouth in appropriate doses depending on age. Doses should not exceed 200 mcg daily for children 1 to 3 years old, 300 mcg daily for children 4 to 8 years old, 600 mcg daily for children 9 to 13 years old, and 900 mcg per day for adolescents.

A type of rash called dermatitis herpetiformis: Taking iodine can make this rash worse.

Thyroid disorders: Prolonged use or high doses of iodine might make certain thyroid disorders worse, including hypothyroidism, an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), or a thyroid tumor. Also, people with autoimmune thyroid disease might be especially sensitive to the harmful effects of iodine.

Amiodarone (Cordarone)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Amiodarone (Cordarone) contains iodine. Taking iodine supplements along with amiodarone (Cordarone) might cause too much iodine in the blood. Too much iodine in the blood can cause side effects that affect the thyroid.

Lithium

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Lithium can inhibit thyroid function. Concomitant use with iodine may have additive or synergistic hypothyroid effects (17574,20754). Monitor thyroid function.

Medications for an overactive thyroid (Antithyroid drugs)

Interaction Rating=Major Do not take this combination.

Iodine can affect the thyroid. Taking iodine along with medications for an overactive thyroid might decrease the thyroid too much. Do not take iodine supplements if you are taking medications for an overactive thyroid.

Some of these medications include methenamine mandelate (Methimazole), methimazole (Tapazole), potassium iodide (Thyro-Block), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications for high blood pressure might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of potassium. Most iodide supplements contain potassium. Taking potassium iodide along with some medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium in the body. Do not take potassium iodide if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), ramipril (Altace), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs))

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications for high blood pressure might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of potassium. Most iodine supplements contain potassium. Taking potassium iodide along with some medications for high blood pressure might cause too much potassium in the body. Do not take potassium iodide if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

The ARBs include losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), candesartan (Atacand), telmisartan (Micardis), and eprosartan (Teveten).

Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Most iodine supplements contain potassium. Some "water pills" might also increase potassium in the body. Taking potassium iodide along with some "water pills" might cause too much potassium to be in the body. Do not take potassium iodide if you are taking "water pills" that increase potassium in the body.

Some "water-pills" that increase potassium in the body include spironolactone (Aldactone), triamterene (Dyrenium), and amiloride (Midamor).

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

Iodine is an essential nutrient found in iodized salt, marine products such as seaweed, as well as eggs and cow's milk. The amount that should be consumed on a daily basis is called the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). For adults, the RDA is 150 mcg daily. While pregnant, the RDA is 220 mcg daily. While breast-feeding, the RDA is 290 mcg daily. In children, the RDA depends on age.

Iodine is also available in supplements and in various topical solutions, eye drops, mouthwashes, ointments, and scrubs. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Atomic number 53, Cadexomer Iodine, Diatomic Iodine, I2, Iode, Iode de Cadexomer, Iode Diatomique, Iode Moléculaire, Iode Mono-atomique, Iode de Povidone, Iode de Sodium, Iodide, Iodized Salt, Iodure, Iodure de Potassium, Iodure de Potassium en Solution Saturée, Iodure de Sodium, KI, Lugol's Solution, Molecular Iodine, Monoatomic Iodine, Numéro atomique 53, Periodate de Sodium, Potassium Iodide, Povidone Iodine, Saturated Solution Potassium Iodide, Sel Iodé, Sodium Iodide, Sodium Iodine, Sodium Periodate, Solution de Lugol, SSKI, Yodo.

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