A 23-year old man came to my office having experienced weeks of extreme anxiety, palpitations, and 19 pounds of weight loss triggered by an overactive thyroid.
It all happened because of a large dose of iodine received during a CT scan using iodine-containing x-ray dye. (X-ray dyes are made visible on x-ray due to the iodine content.) This is a reaction first described in the 19th century by German physician, Karl Adolph von Basedow. (Jod is German for iodine.)
Now, here’s the kicker: Jod-Basedow only occurs when there is pre-existing iodine deficiency. Indeed, this young man had an enlarged thyroid, signaling longstanding iodine deficiency (a goiter).
This example is among the more flagrant examples of something I have been witnessing: the return of iodine deficiency. As Americans cut back on their intake of iodized salt and fail to obtain iodine in sufficient quantities from seafood, seaweed, or supplementation, goiters and iodine deficiency are making a return in all its glory, reminiscent of the early 20th century, pre-iodized salt.
This young man’s frightening experience is yet another way iodine deficiency can show itself, by the overenthusiastic thyroid response to a large dose of iodine when iodine deficiency has been present for a prolonged period.
Iodine deficiency and goiters have been lost to memory for most people. Even the FDA, in its advice for Americans to reduce salt and sodium intake, have forgotten to remind everyone to obtain iodine from an alternative source. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Get your iodine.