Better Body Clinical Nutrition


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Wednesday, March 27, 2024 12:21 PM

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Iodine is essential for synthesis of thyroid hormones, so it is not surprising that the thyroid gland is where the body stores roughly three-fourths of its iodine. Dr. Ronda Nelson describes this storage system as a “savings account” that periodically requires replenishment. In addition to needing to take in adequate iodine, according to Dr. Nelson, we need to have a healthy gut (which facilitates conversion of some portion of iodine to iodide), and we need the right cofactors (especially the fat-soluble vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin D) to enable the transport of iodine and its use by the thyroid. Studies have identified interactions between vitamin A and iodine metabolism, for example, showing that diets deficient in both nutrients impair thyroid metabolism to a greater extent than diets deficient in only one or the other. Vitamin A supplementation (with a natural source like cod liver oil) reduces the risk of hypothyroidism and improves iodide efficiency.

Three toxic halogens (bromine, chlorine, and fluorine) are structurally similar to iodine. Because of this similarity, they can take up residence in the thyroid gland, where they exert a negative influence and displace iodine. The three elements are all worrisome from a health standpoint. However, the policy of adding unpurified industrial fluoride compounds to municipal drinking water may be particularly egregious because it subjects citizens to systemic negative health effects, without their consent, in exchange for a putative benefit to the teeth. (Even this highly touted dental “benefit” is questionable, given the rising prevalence of dental fluorosis. The compounds added to public water include fluorosilicic acid (an acidic liquid) and sodium fluorosilicate and sodium fluoride (dry powders), all of which also are frequently contaminated with “non-trivial” amounts of arsenic. U.S. water utilities not only obtain their fluoride chemicals from the U.S. phosphate fertilizer industry but also from China, where oversight is likely to be “lax and variable.

Leading neurology experts agree that fluoride compounds are neurotoxic, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) persists in celebrating water fluoridation as a major public health achievement. As a result, it is difficult for U.S.-based researchers to obtain funding to study fluoride’s adverse health effects. Researchers in other countries have made greater headway. For example, a 2015 study in the United Kingdom—where about 10 percent of the population receives fluoridated water (in contrast to roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population)—took advantage of the availability of detailed community water fluoridation data and General Practice data on the prevalence of hypothyroidism to assess fluoride’s effects on the thyroid.

The researchers found that practices located in fluoridated areas were nearly twice as likely to report a high prevalence of hypothyroidism as practices in non-fluoridated areas, raising “concerns about the validity of community fluoridation as a safe public health measure.

In rat studies, researchers in India have observed that subjecting rats to a sub-acute exposure to sodium fluoride for thirty days induces thyroid dysfunction, and that the “structural abnormality of thyroid follicles by fluoride intoxication clearly indicates its thyrotoxic manifestation. Other Indian researchers have administered high-fluoride water to rats expressly to study “fluoride-induced changes on…thyroid hormone status. Studying the rats across three generations, the research team documented “generational or cumulative effects of fluoride on the development of the offspring when…ingested continuously through multiple generations.” Because thyroid hormone plays such a crucial role in brain development, the investigators concluded that changes in the thyroid hormone levels may have “imbalanced the oxidant/antioxidant system” and reduced learning memory.

A human study in India considered school children living in “endemic fluorosis areas” where the children not only exhibited widespread dental fluorosis but also low IQ and other developmental problems. Whereas U.S. public health authorities define dental fluorosis as a common and seemingly benign condition that simply “causes changes in the appearance of tooth enamel, fluorosis is actually a sign of chronic fluoride poisoning. This particular group of Indian researchers views fluorosis as a marker for developmental disorders, noting fluoride’s known ability to “interfere with thyroid gland function and to cause degenerative changes in the central nervous system [and] impairment of brain function. Like their U.K. counterparts, these Indian investigators are alarmed by the public health policy of fluoridating drinking water, particularly in light of the growth disturbances and underlying thyroid disease detected in their sample of adolescents.
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