Iodine, the Thyroid, and Hashimoto’s

Weeding through information and finding your inner wisdom
By Andrea Nakayama
Andrea Nakayama
Andrea Nakayama
March 14, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014

There’s a wealth of information and seeming wisdom out there about each and every health issue.

I’m in the same boat as you, bombarded by broadcasts boasting this answer or that solution day after day. My inbox is filled with guarantees and quick fixes that stack up to result in a lot of empty promises or conflicting information.

Take the iodine, thyroid, Hashimoto’s issue, for example.

The debates about whether to supplement with this mineral or not are both fierce and maddeningly mystifying. Some of my most trusted resources land on opposing sides of the fence on this matter.

This is one reason why my approach to health and healing is much more individual and personalized. I’ve learned first hand that it takes a deeper understanding of my own physiological predisposition, test markers, and symptom analysis to address my hormonal and immune struggles—from my adrenals to my thyroid to the inflammation that I can’t feel, but that lurks within.

The truth is that wisdom isn’t in your inbox, it’s within you.

Once you tap into your inner wisdom, with the help of some deeper education and insight about what you’re looking to uncover, you can begin to upgrade your self-care to meet your unique needs. You’re no longer treating a disease state, like Hashimoto’s (which is an autoimmune thyroid condition, often misdiagnosed as straight hypothyroidism), but instead promoting the sophistication that hones your wisdom to see the forest for the trees.

Let’s map that forest of symptoms—the fatigue, the fogginess, and the resistant weight loss. Let’s put that bloating, those body aches, and that exhaustion you sometimes feel when the alarm goes off into proper context.

How can you hone your wisdom and know just what aspects of your self-care require your most immediate attention as opposed to trying to tackle it all at once, letting your health care run you ragged?

I’ll tell you the first step. The first step is c


Since we’re weeding through the wisdom, let’s take a brief look at what we know about seaweed, one of the most potent sources of that controversial mineral iodine.

The Good

Seaweed is a powerful addition to the diet. It contains many of the nutrients essential for an efficient liver detoxification system, one of the main systems we want to look at in relation to optimal health and the management of autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s.

Seaweed is higher in vitamins and minerals than any other class of food. In fact, all the minerals required for health are supplied in seaweed in proportions quite similar to those found in human blood. These key minerals include calcium, iodine, phosphorous, sodium, and iron.

Seaweed can help support heart health, improve immunity, and regulate digestion. The advantages of seaweed are not only obtained through the digestive tract, but also accessed transdermally, through the skin—in baths, wraps, and lotions.

When it comes to thyroid health, there are at least eight key nutrients that the body needs for optimal function. Iodine is at the top of the list.

The Bad

Your body does not produce iodine on its own.

This all-important nutrient needs to be obtained from food, like seaweed. Iodized salt, seafood, eggs, and certain grains also contain some iodine. Our ancestors obtained it more readily from plants grown in iodine-rich soil, the water supply, and animals grazing on the grasses grown in that good soil.

Iodine is crucial for the production of the thyroid hormones known as T4 and T3.

If you’re not getting enough dietary iodine you will most certainly have difficulty forming and converting the important hormones for thyroid health and metabfolic wellness. Low iodine has been globally proven to lead to thyroid problems.

The Confusion

Don’t go popping those kelp tablets just yet!

There’s most certainly a range where the lack of iodine can provoke the onset of thyroid disease. Yet there’s also a range, not too far away, where an excess of iodine can lead to thyroid disease.

That’s enough to confuse any girl (or boy)!

If you can visualize a “U” shape on a graph, please do so. The vertical edge of the graph is the rate of hypothyroidism, from low at the bottom to high at the top. The horizontal edge of the grid is iodine intake, with low at the left, sufficient in the middle and high on the right. If you need to draw that to fully grasp this concept, go for it!

The top left of the “U” correlates to the rate of hypothyroidism (increased) and low iodine intake. This typically results in goiter and thyroid nodules. The bottom of the “U” correlates to the rate of hypothyroidism (low) and sufficient iodine intake. The top right of the “U” corresponds to the rate of hypothyroidism (increased) and excessive iodine intake.

As you can see, iodine is one of those Goldilocks nutrients that needs to be supplied in “just right” amounts for optimal thyroid health.

Even though there are at least eight key nutrients the body needs for appropriate thyroid function, we don’t necessarily need to take them all as supplements or in excess in our diet or nutritional regime. That need is dependent on markers that are particular to each one of us. Your need for iodine is different than mine. We don’t both need it because we’re hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s.

This article is provided for information only and is not meant to prescribe medical care. Please consult a physician for treatment of any medical problems.

With a career born of a personal family health crisis and the loss of her young husband, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama has taken the idea of food as personalized medicine from a clinical practice to guiding thousands of international clients on the journey of taking ownership over their own health through her online programs at and Contact her at: To learn more about Hashimoto’s, please visit

Hashimoto’s A to Z symptoms Checklist

Many Hashimoto’s patients are first diagnosed as hyperthyroid, overlooking the underlying autoimmune component of the condition. Even if doctors do diagnose the Hashimoto’s, it is often treated like hypothyroidism as there is no standard of care for Hashimoto’s. The truth is, you can learn to feel like yourself again. Understanding the root causes of Hashimoto’s and how it affects all systems, not just the thyroid glands and hormones, is a key part of restoring your health. If any of the symptoms listed in the A to Z Checklist below persist for you, please consider that your approach to restoring your hormone balance still has room for improvement.

Check or highlight any lingering symptoms that you experience.



Body aches

Chronic candida

Cold all the time and/or cold extremities

Constipation or sluggish bowels


Difficulty losing weight

Diffuse hair loss

Dry skin and hair




Frequent infections, colds, or flus

Gluten sensitivity

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

Heavy feeling throughout body

Hormonal dysregulation (adrenal fatigue,



Insulin resistance

Joint pain and stiffness

Kidney stones, infection or disease

Low ferritin, low iron (anemia)

Low vitamin D levels

Muscle aches

Nutrient deficiency, despite good diet

Neck discomfort or pain

Osteopenia or osteoporosis

Pale skin


Poor concentration, memory, or motivation

Puffy eyes

Quality of life compromised due to symptoms

Run down

Shortness of breath


Skin problems (dryness, eczema)

Throat discomfort, swelling, or frequent sore throats

Thinning eyebrows



Voice change or hoarseness

Water retention


Wake feeling tired

Xeric (dry, deficient in moisture)

Yellowish skin or nails

Zero energy

Andrea Nakayama
Andrea Nakayama