Thyroid gland is producing hormones which are important for the functioning of our body. Iodine is needed to produce the hormones. Thyroid gland filters the iodine which we get from our food to produce these hormones. Unfortunately it can’t distinguish between stable and radioactive iodine.

The radioactive problems in Japan make this actual and many have several unanswered questions. I try to answer some of them here.

Can iodine tablets prevent the entrance of radioactive iodine into our body?

No, it can’t.

What is the right time to take the iodine tablets?

We must take it before the radioactive iodine reaches our body. After that there is no big use.

Is the iodine present in the food enough to make the thyroid glands full?

No, in food iodine is present in microgram amount, but we need in milligram amount to fill the thyroid gland completely. Microgram x 1000 = milligram

I’m using iodized salt: is it enough?

No, here also the amount of iodine is very small to do this job. Only special tablets or fluids are good for this purpose.

What are the amounts needed?

Newborns from birth to one month – 16 mg
Infants and children from 1 month to 3 years – 32 mg
Pregnant women – 65 mg
Breastfeeding women – 130 mg
Adults – 130 mg

This is for 24 hours.

Are there side effects?

Yes, there are few side effects, but the advantage is more than the side effects. If there is a nuclear accident it is an emergency and we must take it.

I have heard adults above 40 years need not take iodine tablets: is it right?

In many countries the health authorities say this. But, from our experiences from Chernobyl we know well that radioactive iodine attacks children as well as adults and causes cancer. Adults must also take iodine tablets.