Why did the USDA remove iodine from its Food Composition Database?

If you wait for someone else or for your government to hand you a survival kit, then you may be waiting a while and sometimes people are already too sick to be able to wait much longer. For some hard to understand reason a life saving tool was taken away from the U.S. public that had been available for a long time.

We in the U.S. used to have life saving information available to us which was removed – if that happened in North Korea would we be concerned? Food sources of iodine were included in the USDA Food Composition Database in 2010 and 2011 and now the information is no longer included even though many, many other chemicals are included that aren’t even considered essential vitamins or minerals. Iodine is a trace mineral that is considered essential and it helps prevent neurological deficits in children, may have to do with risk of autism, obesity and apathy. (ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index)

The current nutrient guideline for iodine is based on a goal to prevent goiter which is a physical symptom of very severe iodine deficiency. Patients who are treated with a short term loading dose of extra iodine, a dose that would be too much if continued long term, report on average a significant reduction in symptoms including pain from Fibrocystic Breast Disease, migraines and fibromyalgia. http://www.jpands.org/vol11no4/millerd.pdf Fibrocystic Breast Disease – painful breasts that may cycle with the monthly hormonal changes, used to be very uncommon for U.S. women and is now very common:

“The incidence of fibrocystic breast disease in American women
was 3 percent in the 1920s. Today, 90 percent of women have this
disorder…” http://www.jpands.org/vol11no4/millerd.pdf

I am familiar with the condition, it hurt, taking a high dose iodine supplement did help relieve me of the cyclic breast pain and coincidentally also may have helped resolve a severe migraine problem that I had and undiagnosed fibromyalgia type pain – the insurance requirements for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are very specific and my set of muscle knots didn’t match the criteria at the time I was having pain. A gluten free diet seemed to help me feel better so I just followed that on my own initiative. I have since learned that chemically the gluten molecule is quite similar to the thyroid hormone and for some people an autoimmune reaction may be causing the body to become over-sensitized to both gluten and the thyroid hormone. Strictly avoiding the dietary allergen (gluten in this example) can help the body to become less over-reactive to the body’s natural chemicals (thyroid hormone in this example). Molecular mimicry is the term used to describe this phenomenon if interested in reading more about it.

A randomized clinical trial with patients reporting breast pain also termed Benign Breast Disease or cyclic mastalglia or Fibrocystic Breast Disease found that pain was reduced for patients treated with double the current RDA of iodine or greater but that relief was not provided for the group who received a dose equal to the current U.S. nutrient guideline. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15239792

Benign Breast Disease or Fibrocystic Breast Disease has not generally been found to be directly a risk for later breast cancer however for some patients (~ 5%-20%) it may be an early indicator of later risk.  Abstract available, full text paywall, so I’m not sure of the details regarding the results: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25970956

An overview of a variety of research on the topic of breast health and iodine and halide toxicity, bromine, perchlorates, and fluoride, is available here: https://kathleenbarnes.com/iodine-and-fibrocystic-breasts-and-breast-cancer/

Excess perchlorate, especially in combination with low iodine, may increase risk to fetal brain development. https://scienmag.com/mothers-exposed-to-common-toxin-have-lower-levels-of-hormone-crucial-for-brain-development/

PTSD outbursts is about a domino pattern of behavior that is triggered by the first domino being bumped. Being offended is something that has nothing to do with PTSD. A few tips for helping reduce symptoms of PTSD, a physical brain issue involving overactive fear response, is available here: https://www.organicfacts.net/post-traumatic-stress.html

Prenatal care is important to think about once the infant is conceived but it can be even better to think about before trying to conceive. An evaluation for iodine level and thyroid antibodies can be a good idea for anyone but may also be helpful for a future infant’s brain development.

This image has nothing to do with being offended or being triggered – it is about potentially health and life saving information being withheld from the U.S. population. Why withhold it? What is the USDA goal in removing a large amount of data from a health professional’s and individual’s toolkit for providing accurate preventative health education? Why take away information from a toolkit when it had been available?

Where’s the iodine?

Iodine food sources include:

  • anything made with iodized salt,
  • many types of seaweed including kelp and nori, (used in sushi rolls),
  • coconut and any other produce that is grown very near to ocean waters (Iodine is released into the air by coastal water microbes – so killing coral reeves may affect our nutrient supply – that is also how we get selenium.)
  • cranberries, organic yogurt, and navy beans and other types of dry beans are also mentioned as good sources of iodine in this article: (globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/).

It is good to have adequate selenium when increasing intake of iodine as occasionally the body can overreact and start over producing thyroid hormone and selenium is necessary for the enzyme that is needed to breakdown excess amounts of thyroid hormone. It is involved in metabolism and too little can cause depression and feeling cold and too much can cause a racing heart and feeling jittery and manic.

Two hundred micrograms per day is the recommended amount and is generally available in a one-a-day type supplement, otherwise approximately two Brazil nuts per day is a good natural source – there aren’t many natural sources because it is released into the atmosphere by coastal ocean water microbes and the rainforest Brazil nut trees seem to be good at collecting the mineral – we live in a miracle – we should treat it like a miracle – I like to call the miracle Mother Earth – she birthed us all.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Methyl Donors and BPA

Methyl donors are chemicals that can donate a methyl group which is made up of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. Methyl groups on DNA signal the genes to remain unactivated, to stay in an off position. Removing the methyl groups can signal the gene to become active. A gene that has few methyl groups atttached may be more easily activated than normally.

This excerpt includes methyl donors and at least one methyl remove-er (BPA).

“Nutritional components that may influence the methylation of epigenetically susceptible loci include folic acid, vitamin B6 and 12, selenium, choline and betaine, methionine, soy genistein, bisphenol A, tocopherols, diallyl disulfide in garlic, and tea polyphenols [28]” [1]                                               *tocopherols are the vitamin E group.

Bisphenol A is not a natural component of food as I understand nutrition but BPA may be part of the plastic lining of cans and other food packages such as plastic drink bottles. It is also found on the slick coating of some types of register receipts. BPA may cause hypomethylation of DNA, fewer methyl groups on the DNA may cause activation of genes.

Bisphenyl A can act similarly to the hormone estrogen. Soy genistein is a phytoestrogen that may help block harmful effects of the estrogen mimetics. Other methyl donors that may help block the effects of BPA are the B vitamins folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 and choline and betaine.

Avoiding the supplement forms and eating more food sources of Folate and methyl B12 may be more beneficial for people with defects in the methylation cycle.(MTHFR is one example). Taking the unmethylated supplement forms may interfere with the smaller quantities of bioactive folate and B12 that might be found in natural sources.

Adequate B vitamins prenatally may also help protect against DNA changes in the infant.

Folate or Folic Acid:

Folate is the form of the vitamin found in food and it is more bioactive than Folic acid. Folic acid is the form that is commonly available as a supplement and in fortified foods however it requires adequate supplies of vitamin B12 to be available in order to be converted into a more usable form. A genetic difference may exist in some individuals that prevent the body from being able to convert the inactive Folic acid form into Folate, the methylated bioactive form of the vitamin.

Food Sources of Folate, the bioactive natural form, include: most beans and peanuts, black eyed peas, green peas, grains, asparagus, most dark green vegetables, orange juice, citrus fruits. Fortified cereal and rice are good sources of folic acid, the supplemental form.

Vitamin B12:

Food Sources of Vitamin B12 include: shellfish, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy products, Nutritional or Brewer’s yeast. Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy, eggs, fish or other meat products may need a supplement or nutritional yeast, a vegan food source of vitamin B12.

Injections of B12 may be needed for better absorption of the nutrient for some individuals with stomach problems. Adequate stomach acid and a cofactor are required for normal absorption of vitamin B12. A genetic difference may be a problem for some people causing them to need the methylated active form of B12 rather than being able to benefit from the more commonly available unmethylated supplement.

Vitamin B6:

Food Sources of Vitamin B6 include: fortified cereal, barley, buckwheat, avocados, baked potato with the skin, beef, poultry, salmon, bananas, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, sunflower seeds.

Choline and Betaine:

Choline is also a water soluble essential nutrient that is frequently grouped with the rest of the B vitamins. Choline is found throughout the body but is particularly important within the brain. Choline as a high dose supplement may cause mood symptoms in people at risk for unstable moods. It is a precursor for the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Betaine is a metabolite of choline. Spinach and beets are rich in betaine. Good sources of choline include egg yolks, soy beans, beef, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables and cauliflower.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Kyung E. Rhee, et al., Early Determinants of Obesity: Genetic, Epigenetic, and In Utero Influences, International Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 2012
  2. J. Higdon & V. Drake,  An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals:  Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations, 2nd Ed., (Thieme, Stuttgart / New York, 2012)
  3. “Choline” on whfoods.com: [whfoods.com]
  4. Betaine,” (Feb. 11, 2012) PubMed Health: [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/]  *link not working, part of the information is available here: [med.nyu.edu]
  5. Rebecca J. Schmidt, et. al. , “Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism,” Epidemiology. 2011 Jul; 22(4): 476–485. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  6. MTHFR C677T Mutation: Basic Protocol,”