Earthquake in Japan- Why all the Iodine? (Update #18)

As I mentioned in the previous post, taking iodine is known to help protect you from radiation (which by the way, has not reached dangerous levels, and as of now we're not in any immediate risk).

If you're interested on how exactly iodine helps, here's the lowdown, nice and simple: 

1. Radioiodine, or iodine-131 is a byproduct of nuclear fission. It's radioactive.

2. Your thyroid (a gland found in your neck), uses iodine to do its job, which is releasing hormones to help regulate processes in your body (like making proteins and using energy).

3. If your thyroid is saturated with dietary iodine, it won't uptake any more extra iodine. Hence, if you have plenty of 'normal' iodine in your body, radioactive iodine won't be taken up as much by your body.

4. If, however, your body lacks iodine, and radioactive iodine is around, your thyroid soaks it up, gets damaged, and could get cancerous (i.e. thyroid cancer- this is what happened to many people at Chernobyl).

So there it is. 

Eat your seaweed folks. No one knows what's going on with the reactors, and it may be this way for a while. Hopefully there won't be any spread of radiation, but until we know for sure, if your body's stocked with iodine, it'll help keep the radiation away. 

Note: Iodine supplements, and drugs like potassium iodide, I hear have the same effect (though I don't know about doses). 

Also, the popular Japanese gargle "Isogen", also contains high concentrations of iodine, but I personally can't recommend going around chugging gargle. Some 'experts' say its safe in small doses, and will help with radiation. Others say the kind of iodine in it isn't ideal, and isn't taken up by the body well (and that it's poisonous). 

I can't say what's true about "Isogen", and I'm getting the feeling nobody knows for sure, but to be safe, I'd stick with good old seaweed (it's high in iodine, safe and healthy).

PS Thanks to my friend Armando Bedoya for helping me get this information.

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