According to Dr. David Brownstein’s book, “Iodine: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It,” iodine is an essential nutrient required by every cell in the body. However, due to diet and environmental factors, individuals can become deficient in iodine.

Function of Iodine

Maintaining proper iodine levels in the body is important for the production of all hormones in the body and for proper immune system function. Dr. Brownstein believes that iodine may have antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and anticancer properties as well.

Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency can result in mental retardation, infertility, goiter, and an increase in infant/child mortality. Dr. Brownstein believes iodine also plays a part in ADHD, fatigue, fibrocystic breasts, infections, headaches, prostate disorders, liver disease, sebaceous cysts, and vaginal infections.

Side Effects of Iodine

According to, side effects of iodine include digestive upset in the form of stomach pain or diarrhea. If you develop a rash, joint pain, fever, face swelling, throat swelling, breathing trouble, taste of metal in the mouth, symptoms of a head cold, an enlarged thyroid or sore teeth and gums, you should notify your doctor.

Managing Side Effects

Side effects can be managed and alleviated by adjusting the dosage of iodine appropriately unless it is due to an actual iodine allergy, which is rare.

Iodine Amounts

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men and women in the United States is 150 mcg per day. However the Japanese ingest about 13.8 mg per day according to Dr. Brownstein’s book, “Iodine: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It.” This is 100 times more than the RDA.

Testing for Iodine Levels

There are several ways to test for iodine levels. One is a basic urine test which measures how much iodine is in the urine. Another test is the iodine-loading test which measures how much iodine stays in the body after ingesting iodine. The concept here is that the more iodine the body retains, the higher the deficiency or need for it.