I’m a big believer in iodine and its ability to increase testosterone, improve leydig cell functionality and rid the body of toxic chemicals.
While going extremely in-depth about iodine is out of the scope of this article, I am going to try and cover all of the basics so you can decide for yourself if supplementing with iodine is something you should look further into.
I will tell you upfront that supplementation is a bit controversial and as always, you should consult with your doctor or trusted medical professional before deciding to take it.
How Iodine Affects Your Hormones and Thyroid
Before we get into the real nuts and bolts of how iodine affects testosterone we need to discuss what exactly iodine is and its role in the body.
Iodine, is a trace mineral and crucial to proper functioning of your thyroid and its hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
The human body can hold about 1,500 mg of iodine. Around 20% of that is held in your skin, 32% in your muscles and most of the rest in your glands (thyroid, testicles, pituitary, etc…)
Without enough iodine in your body your thyroid cannot function properly which can lead to a condition known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can cause elevated prolactin levels. Prolactin is a protein best known for enabling females to produce milk.
This in and of itself can decrease your testosterone but it actually gets worse.
Men suffering with hypothyroidism actually tend to see an increase in total testosterone but the problem is that they also see a significant rise estradiol (estrogen).
The rise in estrogen frequently causes a condition in men known as gynecomastia (bitch tits). (1)
In fact, according to Dr. Flechas, hypothyroidism is associated with a near doubling of free estrogen levels. (2)
Hypothyroidism also causes a big increase in and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). (1)
As testosterone is transported through your blood it binds to SHBG, which means it becomes “locked up” and is essentially useless. You can have all the testosterone in the world but if it’s all bound to SHBG, its as if your body has extremely low T.
Side Note: Boron has proven highly effective at reducing SHBG.
A Bit of Iodine History
At one point in time, iodine was considered “the universal medicine” and has been prescribed by doctors since at least as far back as 1820 to cure a variety of ailments. (3)
Modern science knows that iodine has some kind of affect on almost every element of human health from proper brain development and functioning, to nervous system health, to sexual well being, to a working immune system and on and on.
In the 1920’s iodized salt was introduced and has now been credited with increased height and IQ of the general populations of both the U.S. and Switzerland during that time. (4)
But over the last several decades, something has changed.
According to world renowned expert on iodine Dr. David Brownstein, in over 6,000 patients tested to date, 96% have shown to be low on iodine! (5)
That’s pretty extreme so what the hell is going on here? The problem is twofold.
Rampant Soil Degradation
Iodine comes from our soil and intensive farming results in large scale removal of biomass from the soil and use of alkaline fertilizers strips the soil of its iodine content.
In short, modern farming practices and deforestation cause soil erosion which removes a lot of minerals from our foods, especially iodine.
Chemicals Known as Halogens
There are compounds called halogens, some of which are highly toxic. Chiefly among them, fluorine, chlorine and bromine run rampant in our water supply, are used in many disinfectants and are used to dye clothing and furniture.
Basically, in our modern world of chemical based everything, we are under a constant bombardment from toxic halogens in our water, our food supply, in direct contact with it on our skin from our clothes and they even infest the air we breath. (6)
Iodine Removes Toxic Halogens and Heavy Metals
Iodine is actually a non-toxic halogen which is essential to our health. All halogens use the same receptors in the body whether they are toxic or not. Because iodine has the highest atomic weight of all halogens, it can actually flush the toxic halogens and some metals such as mercury out of your body.
In fact, it is the only known substance which can force excretion of some toxic halogens such as bromide and fluorine from your body, as it binds to and flushes them out via your urine. (7)
Side Note: The United States, as well as several other countries, have stockpiles of potassium iodide, which can protect the body against radiation poisoning, to give out to its citizens in the event of a nuclear attack.
Iodine Increases Testosterone and Improves Leydig Cell Functionality
As we have already discussed, iodine is crucial to your thyroid and a properly functioning thyroid is critical to producing healthy testosterone levels and keeping free testosterone elevated within your body so it can do what its supposed to do.
It goes deeper than that though.
One of the receptors that stores halogens in your body is the “leydig cells” in your testicles.
Leydig cells are responsible for producing testosterone and because iodine and toxic halogens fight for these same receptors and our bodies are under constant attack from toxic halogens, your leydig cells may be compromised and corrupted. (8)
Because iodine can bind to and force excretion of these toxic halogens and in some cases, is the only way to flush them out, iodine may directly improve your leydig cell functionality, therefore increasing your testosterone production.
How Much Iodine Should You Take
There is some controversy over how much iodine you should get. The daily recommended intake (RDA) is a paltry 150 micrograms (mcg) for adult men.
However, this recommendation was set to prevent goiter alone and is extremely insufficient based upon all of my research.
Due to the desperate need to flush out toxins, some doctors have recommended supplementation with as much as 200 – 300 milligrams per day. That’s the equivalent of 200,000 – 300,000 micrograms.
I have read through hundreds of personal testimonies of people taking such high amounts and swearing by its effectiveness in improving their health.
However, just as not having enough iodine can cause thyroid issues, so can having too much of it. Just about everything, no matter how healthy it is, turns unhealthy at too high of a dosage.
Japan consumes more iodine (generally speaking) than probably any other nation. This is because their diet consists of a lot of iodine rich sea vegetables and seaweed.
As they tend to live longer, healthier lives, it’s good to note how much iodine they are consuming on average.
Of course it depends on the region and age group, younger japanese living in the city tend to eat more like the typical Westerner, but its been estimated they consume on average between 1 – 3 mgs per day with some regions and age groups getting as much 13 mgs per day. (9)
1 mg is equal to 1,000 micograms and the 1 – 3 mgs per day suddenly feels like a much safer range to me. Compare this to the average American diet which consumes on average about 240 micrograms per day. (10)
Even doctors who agree that our iodine intake is too low cannot all agree on whether or not we should supplement with it. The reasons for this are too complicated and would take to long to properly cover for the scope of this article.
With that said I will tell you that Dr. Flechas, who is very respected in the thyroid community, recommends supplementing with 12.5 mgs per day via a tablet called Iodoral from Optimox. (11)
I will also tell you what I personally do. This of course is only what I have chosen to do for myself and you should consult with a trusted medical professional before taking any action.
I take 1 – 2 drops of Lugol’s 5%, 3 – 5 times per week.
This 1 drop provides: Iodine 2.5 mg, Potassium Iodide (a stable form of iodine) 3.75 mg = 6.25 mgs total.
In a recent study, the bioavailability (how much was actually absorbed) of potassium iodide was 96.4% compared to pure organic iodine which was only about 80%. (12)
Reading through several dozen forums I found one seemingly popular method of trying to get more iodine into the testicles to flush out toxins was to paint it directly on the scrotum (ball sack). No, I am not making this up.
Iodine, does not absorb particularly well through the skin but the idea is, if you are trying to raise your testosterone, to put it right on top of the testicles so what does gets absorbed has a straight shot to the leydig cells.
How effective this is I don’t really know as there are no scientific case studies on it. A lot of men seem to swear by it though.
I personally tried it out of curiosity and I would swear that my urge to have sex a few hours later, did in fact go up, which is supposedly one of the positive side effects. Was it real or just a placebo effect, I could not say.
If you want to read more on iodine, the amount of information and misinformation out there can become overwhelming in a hurry.
This, however, is a great place to start The Guide to Supplementing with I by Stephanie Burst ND. While far from being conclusive (the more you read, the more questions you will end up having rather than answers) it’s still a good place to continue learning more if you are interested.
You can also check out all of the references below by clicking on “link” next to each one.
- The interrelationships between thyroid dysfunction and hypogonadism in men and boys. Meikle AW – Link
- How I Deficiency May Affect Your Child’s Brain Function and IQ. Dr Mercola – Link
- The History of Iodine in Medicine Part I: From Discovery to Essentiality Guy E. Abraham, M.D. – Link
- Introduction of iodized salt in the 1920’s linked to increased IQ and growth in the U.S. and Switzerland. IDD Newsletter – Link
- What Does an I Deficiency Have to Do with Cancer? By Dr. David Brownstein – Link
- Bromine-containing dyes dwarf flame retardants in house dust. Janet Pelley – Link
- Iodine Protects Against Fluoride Toxicity. Dr. Sircus – Link
- The toxic effects of polychlorinated biphenyl (Aroclor 1242) on Tm3 Leydig cells. Aydin Y, Erkan M. – Link
- Assessment of Japanese iodine intake based on seaweed consumption in Japan: A literature-based analysis Theodore T Zava and David T Zava – Link
- Young for Life: The Easy No-Diet, No-Sweat Plan to Look and Feel 15 Years. Dr. Donald “Rock” Schnell – Link
- Help My Thyroid. Dr. Jorge Flechas – Link
- Bioavailability of seaweed iodine in human beings. Aquaron R, Delange F, Marchal P, Lognoné V, Ninane L. – Link