Radiation – The Steps You Can Take to Minimize The Effects

I feel the great need to write on my feelings about the tragedy in Japan, which continues to unfold despite us not hearing much about it from the media lately, and how it can affect us here in the US.  Without a doubt, the radiation from Japan has hit our doorsteps.  The amount varies daily depending on wind currents and rain. But, to put things in perspective, a person who smokes cigarettes or has radon in their home has a much greater risk of radiation than from the amount that we are receiving from Japan.  Thankfully, most of my patients don’t have either of these exposures.  Nonetheless, in the US, both milk and water have been found to be contaminated with radioactive iodine, with elevations in water found in 12 states, including Michigan.

While our exposure to radiation is trivial as compared to the devastation that the people of Japan are experiences and will continue to experience for generations to come, it is still important that we be aware of and attempt to reduce our radiation exposure as much as possible.

Steps you can take to reduce the effect of radiation on your body and on your children:

  • Bathe after playing outside – while normally I encourage kids to get dirty and experience all the germs in their environment, washing radiation off of the body helps to reduce continual exposure.
  • Avoid playing outside in the rain as rain may contain more concentrated radiation.
  • Wash ALL fruits and vegetables, even organic. (I advise using a fruit and vegetable wash containing grapefruit seed extract.)  As much of our organic produce comes from California, and as California is the closest of the states to Japan (without any natural barriers like mountains to have absorbed much of the radiation,) our produce likely has a minute amount of radiation coating each and every piece.
  • Take daily vitamin C to counteract free radicals in the environment.  Depending on age and size, I typically recommend anywhere from 250mg twice a day for babies to 1000mg or more twice a day for kids 6 years and up, increasing dose and frequency during acute illness, if nose bleeds, or with adrenal stressors.
  • Ingest iodine daily. Since radioactive iodine binds to iodine receptors in the body, if your body is saturated with good iodine, the radioactive iodine will have no where to bind.  Unfortunately most people in the US, especially those in the midwest “goiter belt” (including Michigan) who don’t live near an ocean, have very low iodine intakes.  Since the tissue that requires the most iodine is the thyroid, the thyroid is at most risk for radioactive iodine uptake and thus consequent disease due to exposure to it.  Women and peri-pubertal girls are at highest risk due increased demand from their female organs – hence, iodine deficiency is extremely common in women with breast cancer.
Iodine Supplementation:  Iodoral and Lugol’s solution are the two supplements that I recommend. If you’re not ready to start iodine, then organic dulse is a good source of iodine that can be added to food (found in the Asian food section at Whole Foods.)

For adults, the average iodine intake of Japanese (previously the nation with the healthiest people) is 13mg/day, and thus this is a logical daily amount and the amount found in one 12.5mg Iodoral tablet.  Dr. David Brownstein M.D, iodine specialist and author of Iodine, Why We Need It and Why We Can’t Live Without It, recommends 6-50mg/day for adults depending on the individual’s situation.  Starting slow, with just 1/2 tablet (6.25mg), is the safest way to begin.

For children, Dr. Brownstein recommends supplementing iodine at 0.08mg/pound daily.


(This converts to 1 drop of Lugols or 1/2 of a 12.5mg Iodoral for a child who is 80 lbs, or 1/2 drop of Lugol’s for a 40 lb child.   How to give 1/2 of a drop?  Put 1 drop in a cup of water.  Split the cup into 2 half cups.  Give your 40lb child 1/2 cup each day.  Lugol’s must always be added to water as it causes irritation to tissues if not diluted.)

Good hydration, daily ingestion of Celtic sea salt and vitamin C are helpful additions to a daily iodine regimen.  These help the body to excrete the bromine, fluorine, chlorine and heavy metals that the added iodine may trigger the body to release.

As with any supplement, there are risks and some people are far more sensitive than others.  While tolerated well by most, some people react poorly to iodine.  Please consult with your health care provider before starting any supplements either for yourself or for your children.


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