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Radiation in Cali: Not Normal, Not Dangerous But Are Physiologic Doses of Iodine Warranted?

Posted on 23 August 2013

We know that 45% of survivors from the last nuclear blast in Japan had thyroid problems. I posted one week ago that potentially massive amounts of radiation could come our way on the US Left Coast if Japan's reactors had a meltdown, and we're still unsure if that may happen. Fortunately, right now the crisis seems a little less dire, or perhaps it's just eclipsed by the crisis in Libya. Last Saturday, one week ago, I warned you of the risk of the nuclear fallout from Japan so that you would consider buying iodide before the rush emptied the shelves. The US Surgeon General agreed with me. Not take the iodide, but have it on hand. I also owe you an apology for quoting Dr. Brownstein, who had heard estimates of up to 750 rads might show up here in California. Turns out that number was high, and for that I apologize, for any greater fear or panic it may have caused.  I didn't mean to suggest that 750 rads were here from Japan, but I did cite his numbers, which I later could not substantiate. I think it came from worse-case scenario readings from Physicians for Social Responsibility, but I'm not sure, and Dr. Brownstein has not responded to my request for clarification. I'm madly in love with transparency, so I want to be clear about my sources and lack of substantiation. I'm also not an expert at nuclear physics, but I am an integrative physician trying to protect your thyroid, and mine, and our kids, who are particularly vulnerable. It looks like massive amounts of radiation are not coming our way as of yet, at least not today or for the next two to three days. Like you, I'm still tracking the risk, the jet stream, and potential damage on a daily, often hourly, basis. Another of my concerns is that the Japanese lead the world in how much iodine they consume. They eat, on average, 13 mg/day, mostly in the form of sea vegetables. We in the US consume 100x less. That means the Japanese are at a lower risk of radiation damage from radioactive iodine than we are. The Japanese diet, rich in iodine, reassures me as they face the frightening ongoing risk of nuclear fallout.  However, our low consumption of iodine concerns me. While many physicians are saying: "Calm down! Don't panic! Don't take iodide!" I wonder, among the physicians who really understand the role of iodine in the body, how many of them are taking iodide at a dose lower than the CDC recommends should we be exposed in large amounts to radiation. Should you take a low dose of iodide? We're not sure. Here's a post from a doctor I used to work with, Beth McDougall, MD, who recommends to her patients 12.5mg/day of iodine in the form of iodoral.  I do not think we need this much, but is a lesser amount a good idea? I always, daily, take 0.4 mg of iodine; it's in my multivitamin. Should you? Now, we know that iodine is not for everyone - it can be harmful in some cases. Do you take it at a low dose? Check your multi and see. My point is that the less iodine-deficient you are, the less likely that even small amounts of radiation will be taken up into your body. And it's not just your thyroid; iodine is also taken up into your ovaries and breast tissues. A few gentle reminders. Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a results of years of practice experience by me. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. I cannot offer medical advice to those that I do not have a physician/patient relationship. But discussion is highly encouraged, along with knowledge and empowerment. If this crisis and spotlight on iodine gets you to increase your iodine consumption to more physiologic levels, even if that's eating seaweed more often, that's a great value add. Let's talk it over here in the comments section.

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