Heal Yourself At Home
Iodine for health - Goitrogens compete with Iodine

Goitrogens vs. Iodine


   What are goitrogens?

   Goitrogens have become excessively common in today’s world

   Halogens that compete with iodine

   Foods naturally containing goitrogens

   Certain drugs are goitrogenic



What are Goitrogens?


      Goitrogenic substances can interfere with thyroid hormone production in the thyroid gland,   which is where they get their name - a "goiter" is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which may occur as a way of trying to compensate for inadequate hormone production. 


-       Some goitrogens can prevent iodine addition into thyroid hormones - including isoflavones and isothiocyanates found in certain foods such as broccoli and soy.


-       Cause thyroid dysfunction by slowing the production of essential thyroid hormones - primarily by interfering with the formation and function of thyroglobulin;


-       Some goitrogenic substances can block cellular iodine absorption - goitrogens compete for cell receptors which uptake iodine and so reduce iodine utilization. These include the halogens, chlorine, fluorine and bromine, which can, for example:


         Cause thyroid dysfunction due to insufficient uptake of iodide to make thyroid hormones - normal saliva to blood iodide ratio is about 42, but is lowered to < 20 when very high levels of bromide/fluoride bind to the symporter pumps that take iodine into the cells;


         Reduce hydrochloric acid in the stomach by causing its iodide pumps to malfunction


      Technical info: Iodide must bind to a halide symporter binding site before cellular uptake via the iodine pump. Goitrogenic substances compete with iodide for these binding sites. These "iodide transport/utilization inhibitors" interfere with iodide transport at the cell membrane and in several organs at sites of iodide oxidation and utilization.



Goitrogenic halogens have become excessively common in today’s world


      In addition to iodine, there are 4 other halogens (group 17 of the periodic table) - These are bromine, fluorine, chlorine and lesser known astatine, of which only iodine and chlorine are essential to the body.  


-       All halogens use the same receptors in the body - which in an iodine-deficient person may fill up with bromine, fluorine and/or chlorine.


-       Halogen chemistry


         Halogens are highly reactive - due to their atoms being 1 electron short of a full outer shell of 8 electrons. Iodine is the least reactive of the halogens, and the most electropositive;


         Halogens are poisonous gases - and although iodine naturally dissolves in alcohol, to be soluble in water, it must first be bonded to potassium, sodium or chlorine, forming iodide salts, E.g. potassium iodide (which contain negatively charged ions of iodine).


         Fluorine, chlorine and bromine can all displace iodine - Atomic weights of the 4 well-known halogens are: Fluorine (18.99), Chlorine (35.45), Bromine (79.99) and Iodine (125.70)


"The clinical activity of any one of these four halogens is in inverse proportion to its atomic weight. This means that any one of the four can displace the element with a higher atomic weight, but cannot displace an element with a lower atomic weight.”     

J.C. Jarvis, M.D. (Folk Medicine, Henry Holt & Co., 1958, HB, p. 136)


-       A certain level of iodine is needed to prevent unwanted halogens occupying halogen receptor spaces - especially in the case of bromine.   


The research of Drs. Abraham and Brownstein shows that 12.5 mgs of iodine is the minimum daily requirement for full body iodine sufficiency


Tests have proven this dose adequate to remove fluorine (in non-heavy fluoride consumers), but at least 20mg is needed to dislodge bromine quickly.


-       A person needs to have sufficient protein and Vitamin C to deal with the influx of iodine  which becomes available for utilization as the bromine and fluorine are being pushed out - the body uses the protein sodium iodide symporter for iodine transport into cells. Dr. Abraham has shown that Vitamin C is helpful in supporting this pump.

Halogens that compete with iodine


Chlorine / Chloride


      We need chlorine in SMALL amounts - in the stomach for secretion of hydrochloric acid, in the extracellular fluid, and to breathe. Chloride is also used to regulate the blood's important acid-base balance. However, in large amounts it is toxic, and together with its byproducts has been linked to: birth defects, cancer, reproductive disorders, stillbirth, and immune system breakdown. Excess table salt (sodium chloride) competes with iodine, and was shown to cause hypothyroidism in China.


Sources of Chlorine /Chloride




Public Drinking water

Shower steam (using public water)
Sucralose (Splenda®)

Dish washer steam
Hot tubs
Propellants in spray cans
Swimming pools 



Fluorine / Fluoride



Sources of Fluorine/Fluoride



Many processed foods/beverages

Children’s fluoride dental treatments;

Added to public water systems;

Propellants in spray cans;

Additive in most toothpastes;


      Water fluoridation is a farce and also harmful - New Zealand study found no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated water areas. Many European countries have stopped fluoridating.


      Fluoridation has been linked to tooth discoloration, hip fractures, bone cancer, lowered intelligence, and kidney toxicity, plus is a cause of goiter in dogs - Fluoride is more toxic when there is an iodine deficiency. A 2002 study found that 67% of Americans live in communities with fluoridated water. In humans, effects on thyroid function were associated with fluoride exposures of 0.05-0.13 mg/kg/day (when iodine intake was adequate) and 0.01-0.03 mg/kg/day (when iodine intake was inadequate).”                 


Fluoride / Thyroid Connection:  http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/thyroid/


More details on effects of fluoride:   Fluoride – Health Fraud



Bromine / Bromide



Sources of Bromine / Bromide


Foods, Other

Atrovent Inhaler
Atrovent Nasal Spray
Ipratropium Nasal Spray
Spiriva Handihaler
Pyridostigmine bromide

All bakery products – common in grains, bleached flour;

Soda, nuts, oils, several plant foods;
Mountain Dew/ Gatorade/AMP Energy Drink;
Citrus fruit (fumigated with methyl bromide);
Pools & Hot tubs – used as cleaner;
Used to kill pests (termites, rats, insects, fungus, etc.) that might be present in homes, foods, or soil.

Fire retardant chemical;


      The U.S. is exposed to high amounts of the goitrogen bromide via our food and water supply - in all its inorganic and organic forms:


-       Methyl bromide (bromomethane) is used as a soil fumigant for seed production - Although, the Montreal Protocol has severely restricted its use internationally, the U.S. has successfully lobbied for critical-use exemptions. In 2004, over 7 million pounds of bromomethane were applied to California. Applications include tomato, strawberry, and ornamental shrub growers, and also fumigation of ham/pork products.


-       Methyl bromide for post-harvest fumigation of commodities, such as grains, spices, nuts, fruits and tobacco


-       Water supply - 9,090,000 kg/yr;

 Sticht, G., Käferstein, H., Bromine. In Handbook on Toxicity of Inorganic Compounds – Seiler HG and Sigel, H Editors, Marcel Dekker Inc, 143-151, 1988.  


-       Bromide replaced iodide in most baked goods in the 1980’s 


      Bromine has goitrogenic, carcinogenic and narcoleptic properties - Bromine has been found to have a “zombifying” potential.

Sangster et al, The Influence of Sodium Bromide in Man: A Study in Human Volunteers with Special Emphasis on the Endocrine and the Central Nervous System 1983;

  For body detoxification of bromide, the halides iodide and chloride are the most effective (Iodine pulls bromine from storage sites and chloride increases bromine excretion in urine).



Foods naturally containing goitrogens


      Certain foods contain goitrogenic isoflavones and isothiocyanates associated with decreased thyroid function – isoflavones are a member of the health-supportive, antioxidant flavonoid family, that give virtually all plants their vivid array of colors. Isoflavones, such as genistein in soy, has been found to:


(i)            Block the activity of the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzyme, necessary for adding iodine into thyroid hormones;

(ii)          Disrupt messages across thyroid cell membranes;


-       Cruciferous vegetables (contain isothiocyanates) – members of the Brassicaceae family (includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, rutabagas, cassava root, kohlrabi and turnips); crucifers also naturally produce the iodide competitor methyl bromide;


-       Soybean foods  (contain isoflavones) – includes soybeans, soy extracts, tofu, tempeh, soybean oil; contain the isoflavones genistein and  daidzein and glycitein.


-       Some other foods – E.g. peaches, strawberries, millet, pears, peanuts, radishes, spinach, pine nuts, bamboo shoots and sweet potatoes


      Obviously these goitrogenic foods are healthy, nutritious foods when eaten in moderation – it is their overconsumption that would be a problem for individuals with thyroid hormone deficiency; crucifers are not likely to be a problem, but soy appears in many packaged food products in many forms, such as soybean oil,  textured vegetable protein (TVP) and isolated soy concentrate;


      Cooking inactivates about one third of goitrogenic effect -  both isoflavones (in soy foods) and isothiocyanates (in cruciferous vegetables) appear to be heat-sensitive; 



Certain drugs are goitrogenic


E.g. thiouracil and sulfonamides

IODINE related links



Related Links

IODINE – The Universal Medicine

About Iodine

-  Health Functions  

"Iodine at work in the body”

Other Uses for Iodine


About Iodine deficiency  

“Common and affects more than thyroid”

-  Why are we Iodine Deficient?

Goitrogens vs. Iodine

-  Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

-  Iodine Sufficiency tests


About Iodine Health Benefits

Chart of Health Benefits

-  Iodine against thyroid disorders

-   Iodine against cancer


About How to Supplement Iodine

-  Sources of Iodine/Iodide

-  Lugols Dosage Guidelines

-  Lugols Dosage Chart

-  Nebulizing Iodine

-  Required Nutrient Support

-  Iodine side-effects