Here's the official answer from ki4u on using natural iodine supplements vs. the potassium iodide pills:
Q: Is Iodized Salt, Tincture of Iodine, Water Purification Tabs, or other Iodine Sources Effective?
A: Any dietary iodine sources providing for a normal daily sufficient regimen of iodine intake (about 150 micrograms/day in adults) is preferred in that it will then take less stable iodine (and time) to saturate your thyroid in a nuclear emergency and there will be less room there for radioactive iodine before you do. An iodine sufficient diet will also greatly increase the effectiveness of KI or KIO3, but primarily only in the following limited context and not as a substitute for KI or KIO3:
An iodine sufficient diet is most beneficial, compared to an insufficient iodine diet, when the initial administration of KI had been unavoidably delayed and the KI could only be first taken after exposure to radioiodine.
From the Health Physics Journal, Volume 78 No. 6, June 2000, "EFFECTS OF TIME OF ADMINISTRATION AND DIETARY IODINE LEVELS ON POTASSIUM IODIDE (KI) BLOCKADE OF THYROID IRRADIATION BY 131-I FROM RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT" Pat B. Zanzonico and David V. Becker (Read abstract by searching title at Health Physics Journal):
"The 131-I thyroid absorbed dose is two-fold greater with insufficient levels of dietary iodine, 2,900 cGy/37 MBq, than with sufficient levels of dietary iodine, 1,500 cGy/37 MBq. When KI is administered 48 h or less before 131-I intake, the thyroid absorbed doses (in cGy/37 MBq) are comparably low with both sufficient and insufficient dietary iodine levels. When KI is administered after 131-I intake, however, the protective effect of KI is less and decreases more rapidly with insufficient than with sufficient dietary iodine. For example, KI administration 2 and 8 h after 131-I intake yields protective effects of 80 and 40%, respectively, with iodine-sufficient diets, but only 65 and 15% with iodine-deficient diets."
However, in regards to the effective thyroid-blocking protection directly afforded by various sources of dietary iodine, and other iodine applications, taken alone without also utilizing KI or KIO3, it was found...
From the Salt Institue:
"U.S. salt producers use potassium iodide at a level of 0.006% to 0.01% KI."
According to Morton� Salt:
"Each 1/4 teaspoon serving of Morton� Iodized Salt (1.5 gram weight) contains 130 MICROGRAMS of Potassium Iodide."
Thus, to achieve an intake of 130 MILLIGRAMS of Potassium Iodide (what one KI adult dose tablet contains) would require ingesting 250 teaspoons or over 5 cups of iodized salt per day! Don't even think about it! (Morton Lite Salt� Mixture comes in lower yet, at only 90 MICROGRAMS of Potassium Iodide per 1/4 teaspoon!)
Sea Salt is an even worse 'option'. Iodine per Kilogram of sea salt is about 3 mg. You'd be looking at over 33 kilograms of Sea Salt a day to achieve the amount of iodine in a 130 mg dose of KI! Hardly an option!
A 6-ounce portion of ocean fish only contains about 500 MICROGRAMS of iodine. Some specific seafoods, portion size and their iodine content in MICROGRAMS: Mackerel 150g 255 mcg, Mussels 150g 180 mcg, Cod 150g 165 mcg, Kipper 150g 107 mcg, Whiting 150g 100 mcg, Fish fingers 75g 75 mcg, Scampi 150g 62 mcg, Herring 150g 48 mcg, Prawns 150g 42 mcg, Sardines, canned in oil 150g 35 mcg, Trout 150g 24 mcg, Tuna 150g 21 mcg.
Well, you can do the math here! More fish per day would be required than most eat in a year!
Kelp Tablets...hardly. Solgar� Kelp Tablets, for example, contain only 225 MICROGRAMS of iodine! (Fortunately, it is also available in a 1000 tablet bottle, unfortunately though, you'd need to be swallowing 442 of them per day and likely not wander too far from a bathroom!)
Medicines containing Potassium Iodide: Potassium iodide (KI) is an old drug used as an expectorant in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. It is used to treat coughs with phlegm, feeling of fullness in the chest or pressure in the face/sinuses. Potassium iodide helps loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to drain bronchial tubes and make coughs more productive. It increases secretions in the respiratory tract in approximately 30 min. Today it is mainly used to treat an overactive thyroid and, of course, to protect the thyroid gland from the effects of radiation from inhaled or ingested (swallowed) radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide also has anti-infective properties and is sometimes used to treat certain skin conditions caused by fungus, like toenail fungus.
PIMA (Fleming & Company) and SSKI (Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc.) are both available in tablets or liquid, but only with a prescription. Another, that used to be a non-prescription cough and expectorant medicine available over-the-counter (OTC) is Pediacof Cough made by Sterling Health, a Division of Miles, Inc. Common 5 ml dose contains Chlorpheniramine 0.75 mg, Codeine 5 mg, Phenylephrine 2.5 mg, Potassium Iodide 75 mg.
Any of the above may or may not be available from your local pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor. We can't and don't recommend you ever take any drug for any reason other than what it was intended for, nor that the suggested dosages should ever be exceeded. There may be other OTC medicines containing Potassium Iodide on the market as well, please pass them on here if you discover any.
Also, FYI, Potassium Iodide can be found in some livestock preparations, too, such as Equi-Tussin, which is a liquid expectorant and aromatic oil supplement for horses. It contains 125 mg of Potassium Iodide per fluid ounce, but it also contains Molasses, Mentholated Syrup of White Pine, Eucalyptus Oil, Peppermint Oil, Glyceryl Guiacolate and Ammonium Chloride and is obviously formulated for horses, not people. You might want to keep this in mind, though, for protecting your livestock and pets.
Regarding ingesting (drinking/swallowing) iodine, iodine tablets (widely sold for water purification), tincture of iodine, or Povidone-iodine solutions (like the Betadine� brand solution): Cresson H. Kearny, the author of Nuclear War Survival Skills, Original Edition Published September, 1979, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Facility of the U.S. Department of Energy (Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition) states on page 115:
Elemental (free) iodine is poisonous, except in the very small amounts in water disinfected with iodine tablets or a few drops of tincture of iodine. Furthermore, elemental iodine supplied by iodine tablets and released by tincture of iodine dropped into water is not effective as a blocking agent to prevent thyroid damage. If you do not have any potassium iodide, DO NOT TAKE IODINE TABLETS OR TINCTURE OF IODINE.
Iodine is normally used in doses of 8 PPM to treat clear water for a 10 minute contact time. The effectiveness and safety of this dose has been shown in numerous studies. As far back as 1953 in the study "Test of chronic toxicity of iodine as related to the purification of water". U.S. Armed Forces medical journal, 1953, 4:725-728 Morgan DP, Karpen RJ., it was shown that:
"No adverse health effects were reported in men who drank water providing iodide at doses of 0.17-0.27 mg/kg of body weight per day for 26 weeks"
That works out to a reported safe ingestion of elemental iodine via treated water of between 14 and 22 mg per day for an 180 lb adult. To attempt to achieve a thyroid-blocking dose of nearly 100 mg of iodine (the iodine content of a 130 mg KI tablet) would thus require exceeding that proven safe level by a factor of at least four to seven times for an 180 lb adult. And, this would be with potentially poisonous elemental free iodine that is also claimed above by Cresson H. Kearny to be "...not effective as a blocking agent to prevent thyroid damage."
Additionally, USP tincture of iodine contains 2% iodine and 2.4% sodium iodide dissolved in 50% ethyl alcohol and according to the National Academy of Sciences in Drinking Water and Health. Vol. 3. Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1980.
Doses of 30-250 ml of tincture of iodine (about 16-130 mg of total iodine per kg of body weight) have been reported to be fatal.
The small typical one ounce bottle of tincture of iodine contains about two tablespoons or approximately 30 ml of fluid. (The larger pint bottles contain 473 ml.) To a small child, ingesting the small 1 ounce bottle, even if well diluted to make it palatable, could prove fatal.
Everyone needs to understand that all 'tincture of iodine' bottles are clearly marked "POISON" for a very good reason. Ingesting elemental free iodine, such as 'tincture of iodine', in quantities sufficient to attempt thyroid-blocking in a nuclear emergency is not a safe, nor an effective, alternative.
Finally, if someone does attempt thyroid-blocking for themselves or their children by ingesting iodine, iodine water purification tablets, tincture of iodine, or Povidone-iodine solutions (like the Betadine� brand solution), and we are strongly advising against it, they can look forward to:
* shock (potentially fatal lowering of blood pressure)
* extreme thirst
* metallic taste
* sore teeth, gums and mouth
* severe headache
* no urine output (kidney failure)
* corrosive effects on the gastrointestinal tract
* esophageal stricture, asphyxiation (swelling of the throat, esophagus)
* abdominal pain with internal damage
Then, be prepared to call the Poison Control center for further guidance.
DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Give milk, cornstarch, or flour by mouth (15 gm in 500 ml, or just over a pint of water). Continue to give milk every 15 minutes.
And, at the Emergency Room expect some or all of the following procedures to be performed: Gastric lavage (depending on the extent of esophageal injury), establish and maintain airway, be given milk every 15 minutes, and treatment for the symptoms.
BOTTOM LINE: DO NOT INGEST, SWALLOW OR DRINK 'TINCTURE OF IODINE', IT IS POISON!
Topical Iodine Applications
There has been some interesting research, though, with both humans and dogs into topically (on the skin) applied Povidone-Iodine (10%) solution (such as Betadine� or Povidex� solutions), and also with tincture of iodine, to test the absorption rates of iodine directly through the skin. But, it was found not to be as quick in providing thyroid blocking as oral Potassium Iodide (KI) or KIO3, nor as consistent, and then, often, at lower levels of protection. Questions remain of skin irritation, determining the amount of Iodine solution to apply, where best to apply it, how long to apply it, and the effects of temperature and humidity on absorption through the skin. Also, insufficient testing has been done on specific groups, such as infants, children, and pregnant and nursing women to know how effective it would be and the full range of complications that could be expected with repeated applications. For instance, the skin absorption of iodine products in neonates with inhibition of thyroid function has been documented in the past. The use of Povidone-Iodine is the most frequent cause of this type of intoxication. Another study showed that Povidone-Iodine did not significantly influence neonatal thyroid function if they were used to a full term neonate only once and even to a wide skin surface.
Another source, non-medical, claims that by using the stronger 7% tincture iodine and just dipping the index finger of the person being treated up to the first knuckle (just above the fingernail) would provide the proper dosing. They claim this would work for all people as our fingers are roughly proportionate to our size and weight. That may be true, but that this technique would actually provide sufficient quantity and effective absorption of iodine for thyroid-blocking has not been verified. (Additional documentation and source references have been requested of that author. And, will be promptly posted here if provided.)
Clearly more research is needed before embracing the topically applied techniques as a one-size-fits-all solution, as its limitations must first be more fully understood. However...
According to research by Health Physicist Ken Miller, Hershey Medical Center, using 24 healthy adult male subjects, an adult could get a blocking dose of stable iodine by painting 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm approximately 2 hours prior to I-131 contamination. The abstract of his study titled "Effectiveness of Skin Absorption of Tincture of I in Blocking Radioiodine from the Human Thyroid Gland" from Health Physics, June 1989, Vol. 56, No. 6, pages 911-914, (To read abstract, search the title of the article here) states:
"Although there were large variations within each subject group in regard to serum-I levels and thyroid uptakes, the increase in serum-I concentration after topical-I application was effective in reducing the thyroid uptake of I131. The authors conclude that in the absence of KI, most humans would benefit from topical application of tincture of-I, and that in some the effectiveness would equal that of oral KI."
Hmmm... interesting Plan "B"(Betadine�) possibilities here, if in a pinch!
This author continues to see e-mails and forum postings highlighting some of the ongoing confusion regarding different iodine sources and their abilities to provide sufficient levels of iodine for thyroid-blocking radioiodine.
This should help clear it up some more...
Potassium iodide (KI) is 76.5% iodine.
If the FDA recommended amount required for thyroid-blocking radiation protection is 130 milligrams of KI, then that translates into 99.45 milligrams of elemental iodine.
If you are looking at a product, like a kelp liquid for example, that says on the label...
"2 drops contain -kelp standardized with potassium iodide to contain 0.15 mg (150mcg) of pure organic iodine (150%RDA)"
Then, to attain 99.45 milligrams of iodine (same as what's in one 130 mg tablet of KI) would require ingesting 663 double drops or X 2 = 1326 single drops.
A couple drops is just fine for dietary supplementation of required iodine, but woefully underpowered for saturating the thyroid for radioiodine radiation protection.