The Role of Iodized Salt | 3 of 10

Posted On May 15, 2019 by Dr. Max MacCloud DO, ND, PhD

Part 3 of 10

What about Hashimoto's disease you ask? OK, maybe you didn't ask, but it's a question that does come up, especially from misinformed physicians. Many people, including many physicians, are under the gross misconception that this autoimmune thyroid-inflammation, named after the pathologist that first characterized it, is caused by excess iodine. That, however, simply does not jive with the research or the facts as we know them. It's just another of MANY examples of erroneous speculation being repeated over and over. Rather, the data indicates that this condition is much more likely to be a result of a combination of goitrogens and inadequate iodide supply (iodide is the reduced form of iodine that contains an additional electron, the thyroid gland 'prefers' this form to iodine). This combination activated the TPO system (thyroid peroxidase enzyme) via elevated TSH ultimately leading to increased free-radical production that leads to oxidative damage and thyroid inflammation. I've spared you the gory biochemical details of this process so as to avoid putting you to sleep but a significant component has to do with magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is a HUGE problem and EXTREMELY common, it will be the topic of numerous additional posts in the near future.

Just to let you all know that I wasn't pulling all of the above 'fascinating info' (at least it is to me) out of my you-know-what, a great deal of the information presented on the history of iodine comes from the work of Guy E. Abraham, MD, a true pioneer in this field. Dr. Abraham was a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Endocrinology at the UCLA School of Medicine. Among his many noteworthy accomplishments was the development of assay methods to measure minute quantities of steroid hormones in biological fluids. He received many awards and accolades over the course of his distinguished career. As a true pioneer, he developed nutritional programs for women with PMS and post-menopausal osteoporosis MANY years ago in a time that 'modern medicine' still refused to acknowledge the importance of such approaches.

Next, let's begin to get a better understanding of the current IODINE CRISIS. Yes, REALLY, not to be alarmist or overly dramatic, but we really do have an IODINE CRISIS that is having a MAJOR significant negative impact on our society.

To end this post I will kick off a list and explanations re why the VAST majority of the population is deficient in iodine. This widespread deficiency has led to major increases in numerous health challenges. Although there are numerous factors contributing to our current 'Iodine Crisis,' let's finish up this post with the first of them.

Iodized salt consumption has declined by over 65% in the past 35 years.

Although 'refined' salt is not an especially healthy substance (as opposed to whole sea salt) it was a reasonably effective delivery tool for iodine. Goiter was a much more common problem in the past, it is basically the hypertrophy (swelling) of the thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency. The gland shifts into overdrive attempting to do its job of making thyroid hormone under the challenging condition of being short on iodine which is a key component of thyroid hormones.

Salt was chosen as a universally-used delivery vehicle for iodine since it was recognized that a high percentage of the population was chronically deficient in it. Thus, 'iodized' salt came into existence to help increase iodine intake and prevent goiter which is the most obvious sign of gross iodine deficiency. This intervention, although far from providing optimum levels of iodine, did help to provide enough to dramatically reduce the incidence of goiter.

It wasn't the only source of iodine for most people, but provided a supplemental amount. All that was fine until 'they' started to demonize salt which led to the above 65% reduction in salt consumption over the past 35 or so years.

Why was salt demonized? Hypertension, aka high blood pressure. While salt, in its highly processed and refined form, isn't the healthiest of substances, it isn't the devil either. It is a distorted, processed food that strips away all of the other minerals and trace minerals that naturally-occur in sea salt and leaves just sodium and chloride.

As hypertension rates increased over time, the medical & scientific communities (which are definitely not the same) came up with the idea that high salt intake was the cause of hypertension in some people. This may be true in a very small percentage of those with high blood pressure, however, approx. 95% of hypertension is STILL considered to be IDIOPATHIC. Idiopathic is an interesting word, it basically means 'we don't know the cause.' Whenever I see this word used by physicians who attempt to obfuscate their lack of understanding of something, I think 'yep, the idiots don't have a clue.' And yes, I'm a bit sarcastic, get over it.

So, to wrap this up, salt was iodized to help provide more iodine to help prevent goiter but was subsequently demonized due to a completely erroneous connection with hypertension.