I would like to start this article out with: Taking a higher dose of KI or taking it more often than recommended does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness and thyroid damage.
WHAT IS POTASSIUM IODIDE?
Potassium Iodide is very simply, a certain type of salt. A very special type of salt. This salt is made of stable iodine. It is known in simple terms as KI. It is an important chemical that is needed by the body to produce thyroid hormones. You can read about those in my article about the Thyroid. Most of the iodine we need for proper thyroid function comes from the food that we eat. Potassium iodide comes in a medicine form (over the counter).
The thyroid gland sits in the middle of the throat, surrounded by the parathyroid glands on each side. If you do not have the proper amount of iodine in the body, symptoms of fatigue, goiters, depression, hair-loss and thinning skin can develop. Calcium metabolism is affected if the parathyroid function is damaged. Please read my full article on the THYROID.
Radioactive iodine is given off in a nuclear event. When there is a radiological event such as what is occurring in Japan, radioactive iodine is released into the air and can enter the water and food supply. If this fact is unknown, the radioactive material can get into the body. It can enter our body when it is breathed into the lungs, eaten in our food or drank in our water supply. The radioactive iodine is what damages cells and changes the DNA of the cells. The function of the thyroid can be destroyed, opening the door for cellular change. When this occurs, it is known as “internal contamination”. At this time the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this radioactive material. This radioactive iodine injures the thyroid gland and therefore disrupts the normal mechanism of the body and can lead to cancers and other serious health problems.
WHAT DOES POTASSIUM IODIDE DO AND WHAT DOES IT NOT DO?
What non-radioactive Ki does is to saturate the gland and block the radioactive iodide form entering the thyroid.What potassium iodide does in the body is saturate the thyroid so that other forms of iodide do not enter the thyroid gland and disrupt it’s function. The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine and it will absorb both. KI works by blocking the radioactive iodine form entering the thyroid gland. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed and “fills” up the thyroid. It has the effect for only 24 hours after taking the KI.
Table salt that is iodized has enough iodine in it to keep most people healthy under normal conditions. However, it does not contain enough iodine to protect you during a radioactive event. DO NOT use table salt as a substitute for KI.
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
KI may not give a person 100% protections against radioactive iodine. How ell it blocks radioactive iodine depends on:
- 1. How much time passes between contamination and taking the KI.
- 2.The sooner you take KI when you are exposed is best.
- 3. The amount of radioactive iodine you are exposed to.
- 4. How fast your body can absorb the KI into the thyroid.
WHO SHOULD TAKE K I and HOW MUCH TO TAKE?
Infants (including breast-fed infants): The amount of KI in breast milk is not enough to protect breast-fed infants from exposure to radioactive KI. 16 mg for both nursing and non-nursing infants.
Children: If you are contaminated with radioactive iodine, you should take KI. Newborns – 18 years old are most sensitive to thyroid damage. 65 mg tablet or 1 mL solution
Young Adults: From 18-40 years old, you are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than children. Between 65 and 130 mg or 1-2 mL of solution. This is dependent on weight
Pregnant Women: All forms of radioactive iodine cross placenta. If exposed, they should take only one recommended dose. 65 mg in a tablet or 1 mL solution
Breastfeeding Women: They should take only one does of KI if they have been internally contaminated. Radioactive iodine can get into the breast milk and breast-feeding women should stop nursing and feed their child formula. If there is not other food available, continue nursing your baby. 13o mg by tablet or 2 mL solution
Adults: Adults 40 years old and above should not take KI unless public health officials instruct you to. At this age, this is the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury following contamination. Adults also have a higher chance of being allergic to KI. 130 mg in a tablet or 2 mL solution
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TAKE KI?
A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. If the radioactive iodine is in the air for more than 24 hours, local emergency management or public health officials will let you know. At this time, you may need to take a dose every 24 hours for a few days. Taking too much or for a longer period of time can have detrimental effects on the thyroid and overall health of a person. Infants and in-the-womb are at risk for most severe damage.
DO NOT TAKE KI IF:
- 1. You are allergic to iodine
- 2. Serious skin disorders such as dermatitis herpetiformis or urticaria vasculitis
- 3. You may or may not have an allergy to iodine if you are allergic to shellfish. Talk with your doctor before taking KI.
WILL THE FALLOUT AFFECT THE UNITED STATES?
Radioactive iodine has a short half-life. With the distance between Japan and the United states and the distance traveled over the Pacific Ocean (with the breeze and weather changes), the radioactive iodine will be damaged and break apart. At this point it is not dangerous. From the articles I have read and the medical professionals I have talked to and the discussions I had with my mother many years ago, my personal opinion is that we are not in a dangerous situation at this time. But ,having a dose on hand is like having your emergency bag packed and ready to go.
Finally, a topic that is not discussed as frequently as radioactive iodine, radioactive iodine is not the only nuclear material that is released into the air after a nuclear event. KI will not protect you from these other isotopes.
If you would like to discuss this further, please call me at (310) 832-5818 or email me at kim @kromasnutrition.com
Kim Kromas, DC, PhD