Radiation: What You Can Do About It



When I began writing for NutriStart we called the results blogs, then we decided to create newsletters instead, the idea being that the newsletters would be shorter and more frequent. I must confess I seem unable to write short pieces: they inevitably turn into something much longer than I intended. So, my newsletters became pretty much the same as my blogs. 


Nonetheless, I feel that many new readers may be keeping up with the newsletters but may have missed many of the blogs, or never even checked them out. Since there is a lot of good information there, and since I currently have less time available for writing, I will be, for the foreseeable future, reposting the old blogs, updated and tweaked, as newsletters. For those who have read all this material previously, I apologize, and can only suggest that perhaps some of the material deserves a review, or some of the data may have slipped your mind and you might benefit from a refresher.    


I begin this recycling effort with the subject of radiation since, for those keeping up on the warmongering news, the threat of nuclear war in Europe and the Middle East is currently a hot topic. Should it get really “hot” there is much we can do to cope with excessive radiation in the environment, and the following two “newsletters” will cover much of that material. These original three blogs were the basis of my three chapters on radiation and natural solutions, found in Health Secrets for the 21st Century: Volume 2 (where they have been expanded on considerably). Now to our resuscitated blog, written originally just following the Fukushima disaster.


Radiation and Iodine


The subject of radiation and iodine is not only a hot topic right now, but also a loaded one. It has been observed that more long lasting damage to individuals caught up in the Chernobyl meltdown was caused by fear and stress than by actual radiation (not counting children).


Paul Pitchford commented in his book “Healing With Whole Foods”, that during this time many natural food followers in North America made themselves sick by overeating miso and seaweed, along with copious amounts of detoxifying green foods (wheat grass, chlorella, spirulina, etc). Causing themselves much more illness than the amount of radiation they would have received in North America would have done.


Such related hysteria also followed the Fukushima situation, probably expressed more here than in Japan. Fear is a great motivator of consumption (as noted by Michael Moore in “Bowling for Columbine”), and health food stores could not keep seaweed and iodine products in stock. People were angry at the lack of stock (though who could have prepared for this?), fearful from receiving conflicting information (one of the drawbacks of the internet), and generally over-stressed.


These kinds of emotions, when they run wild, do not allow us to think clearly, and they actually add to the burden put on the adrenal glands, which radiation also affects.  So, in the following two newsletters, I will provide the Natural Healing approach to helping the body to deal with excessive radiation exposure, hoping that having good information will help reduce stress and over-reaction among us during the next nuclear emergency.


Nuclear Radiation


Unfortunately, we already have large amounts of radiation in our environment from decades of above-ground nuclear testing by all the major superpowers in the world. (After the U.S. ceased and went to below-ground testing, we still had Russia, China, France and North Korea, doing above-ground testing, up until just recently.) One source maintained that over 2,000 various types of atomic bombs were tested above ground during this time, with half of them being American tests done in North America or the Pacific Ocean.


What the Fukushima situation added to the mix was merely topping up what has been going on for far too long. Thus, it is good to be aware that the anti-radiation protocols which follow, should be considered long term suggestions, not just for any current crisis.


Remember, the basic principle of radiation poisoning is that it is not about how much you get today, but how much you get in a lifetime, so we must include medical and dental x-rays, the exposure from flying, and what we pick up from foods that pull and store radiation well (bananas, brazil nuts, dairy products, and tobacco, which, while not a food, will add to the radiation load of smokers).


This is because, like chlorine, radiation is a “cumulative carcinogen”, so, while avoiding what exposures we can, we also want to keep a high iodine intake to protect the thyroid from up-taking radioactive iodine, and continue to consume those foods that help the body flush all forms of radiation out.


(Of course the basic principle doesn’t apply if you are directly downwind from a nuclear accident, since you would then get a massive dose all at once. However, even then, there are things that can be done to pull the most of that radiation out of the body, as we will see somewhat in part two. (Though the majority of that type of info will be found in Health Secrets Vol 2, as this material is mostly for those of us not in the direct path of such a disaster.)


Potassium Iodide


First, we must look at iodine. There is much confusion about the distinction between iodine and potassium iodide. Seaweed products (food or pills) provide iodine, which while it will saturate and protect the thyroid, takes much longer to do so than iodide. Iodide has a direct affinity for the thyroid gland and will immediately lodge there, blocking the uptake of radioactive iodine (which is only one of the radioactive elements anyways.) And, though iodide will protect the thyroid it won’t stop uptake in other areas of the body from the other forms of radiation (e.g. cesium and strontium).


One of the few potassium iodide products approved for use by the FDA (in the U.S.), in case of nuclear emergency, is called Thyrosafe (www.thyrosafe.com). While people were clamoring for this and related products following the Fukushima incident, based mostly on internet pseudo-news, they were, and still are, mostly unaware of the risk-to-benefit ratio of these types of product. Because the recommended dose is 130 mg for an adult (providing 100 mg of elemental iodide) the product is dangerous to use outside of a full scale nuclear meltdown in your neighborhood. (The children’s dose is 65 mg for 3 to 18 years old, 32 mg for 1 month to 3 years old and 16 mg for under one month old.)


Fortunately, radioactive iodine has a half life of 8 days and further reduces by half every 8 days, so these high potassium iodide products need only be used for a short period.


Such products are commonly issued to people who live near nuclear power plants, to be used in case of meltdown. And, for those of us on the West Coast of B.C., it is not a bad idea to have some on hand, since there is an older model, functioning nuclear power plant, along with stored nuclear waste, in Washington State, not far from the B.C. border. 


Furthermore, the West Coast is considered a “red” zone, as far as earthquake potential goes, and the reactor in question is situated near a fault line, so it behooves us to consider adding such a product to our earthquake kits. However, when we consider the amount of radiation that we may receive on the wind from Japan, a product like Thyrosafe is overkill, and the risk of iodide overdose outweighs any protective benefits offered.


During the Fukushima meltdown, most authorities suggested that taking slightly more iodine than the R.D.A. (150 mcg for an adult) would be sufficient protection against what radiation we might have received from Japan. In my opinion, and that of many iodine experts, this is far too little to have a protective effect. Shortly, we will see how much iodine the Japanese get from their diet to get a better idea of what an ideal amount of iodine intake is.


As mentioned before, potassium iodide will mostly only protect the thyroid from up-taking radioactive iodine, and will do so fast. But regular iodine confers broader protection  (including against certain cancers) while also protecting the thyroid, though it takes longer to reach the thyroid as it must be converted into iodide within the body. 


The broader benefits exist because there are iodine receptors throughout the body and iodine will occupy all these sites if we ingest enough of it. But, during this process it will not be rushing to create iodide for the thyroid’s needs. This is the reason why we use preformed iodide during nuclear emergencies.


So, we want a good consistent intake of iodine, as seaweed and/or supplement, to protect us now and in the future. (A gram of seaweed, dried or in tablet form, provides roughly between 500 and 1000 mcg of iodine.)


Seaweed and Iodine


I am a believer in taking higher levels of iodine than are commonly recommended by Western medicine. This is based in part on work by Dr. David Derry who pointed out that the Japanese average 20 times more iodine in a day than we get in the West, and that this level protects them against many diseases (especially breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.) Therefore, the Japanese people were already well protected from radioactive iodine, having thyroids fully saturated with iodide, when Fukushima blew.


Since the Japanese acquire from 3 to 5 mg of iodine daily from seaweed eating, I feel we can safely take in much more than the R.D.A. (150 mcg). ( In fact, some iodine experts believe that the amount of iodine the Japanese ingest daily is closer to 12 to 18 mg.) 


Also, be aware that almost all iodine in multivitamin and mineral products is in the form of potassium iodide, which while good for the thyroid, does not serve the rest of the body’s needs for iodine. 


I generally recommend “Lugol’s Solution” which is a mix of potassium iodide and iodine, available without prescription from compounding pharmacies. One drop of Lugol’s 2% solution is equivalent to about 4 mg of iodine, and one drop of the 5% solution is equal to about 6 mg of iodine. 


Though, if we take iodine as an isolated nutrient in supplement form we should appreciate that almost all nutrients require secondary nutrients for their assimilation into the body. In the case of iodine it requires extra selenium and tin (actually a trace mineral required in small amounts).


When eating seaweed all the cofactors would be present because it is a whole food, but if we get our iodine in supplemental form, once we get to the higher doses (milligrams rather than micrograms) I suggest adding a selenium supplement (if you don’t get it already in a multivitamin) and using “Concentrace” mineral drops. This product is made from concentrated inland seawater with the sodium removed, and has pretty much the same mineral profile as seaweed (except for the high iodine levels) and thus offers nutritional balance to isolated iodine supplements.


In the next two newsletters I will discuss foods and supplements that help the body to remove radiation and protect it from radiation damage. One of these radio-protective substances is Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), which is found at a reasonable level (100 mg of a 4 to 1 extract) in the NutriPods products (Original, Men’s and Women’s).


Those people who have been using NutriPods can be confident in knowing that they have at least a maintenance dose of iodine (100 mcg in Original and Men’s and 150mcg in the Women’s NutriPods) along with 250 mg of kelp, which contains about 125 mcg of iodine (and an extra 100 mg of dulse in the Men’s NutriPods).


In addition, all NutriPods products contain high amounts of antioxidants, important because the main problem with radiation is the free radical damage it does in the body. NutriPods are rich in natural beta carotene, vitamins C and E, selenium, along with food-based antioxidants found in green tea extract, grape seed extract and quercetin. And it is never too late to start taking a product as protective as NutriPods for now and the future. Although, I would advise taking extra iodine over and above what is provided by the Pods.


(Author: All newsletters and blogs are written by Ken Peters who has worked as a nutritional consultant for the last 30 years, and as product designer for NutriStart for the last 25 years.  He has also authored two books – Health Secrets Vol. 1&2.  He may be reached at: kenpetersconsulting@gmail.com)

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