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Levothyroxine and iodine supplements
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Levothyroxine and iodine supplements

Hi. My question is, am I likely to have caused myself permanent damage by stupidly taking iodine supplements as well as levothyroxine for six weeks?

I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid about six weeks ago and put on 25mcg levothyroxine daily. At the time, I suspected that the vegan diet I had been following for nearly a decade had probably caused the thyroid problem, as vegan diets can be notoriously low in iodine. I asked my GP if this was possible and whether taking iodine supplements might help. She said she thought it very unlikely that anyone in the Western world would be iodine deficient, but that supplements were unlikely to do me any harm, either, so I could try them if I wanted.

I started taking a multivitamin which included 150 mcg iodine daily and also started eating a bit of dairy again, because I was so frightened that my low-iodine diet had damaged my thyroid. For a few days, I also took a 300mg kelp supplement (although I skipped the multivitamin on those days).

From looking on the internet, I now realise that this was absolutely the wrong thing to do (especially the kelp) and that you should never mix levothyroxine and iodine supplementation. I've now stopped both the multivitamin and the kelp, but I'm really, really worried that the sudden massive intake of iodine for six weeks will have totally murdered my thyroid. I'm reluctant to discuss this with my GP (although I will bring it up at my next review in 6 weeks' time), because it seems clear to me from her earlier advice that she doesn't really understand the impact of diet and/or supplements on thyroid function.
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Avatar_f_tn
I really wouldn't be too worried.  I read the link, and I think what he refers to is what I said above...iodine can exacerbate the autoimmune response with Hashi's (he doesn't say that in so many words, but I think that's the message).  On the other hand, iodine might skew thyroid TESTS.  

Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.  So, were you deficient, iodine could help.  Though iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S., it is possible.  Do you use iodized salt?

Also, you're on a very low dose of levo. I really highly doubt you've done your thyroid any damage.  As with anything else, just go easy on any supplements...stay within RDA.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Iodine supplementation can be contraindicated if you have Hashi's as it can exacerbate the autoimmune response (whether or not you anre on levo).

"...you should never mix levothyroxine and iodine supplementation."  I don't know what you've been reading, but this is not true.  Do you have a link?  
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Avatar_m_tn
I found quite a few web forums where people were saying this and other pages like this one http://thyca.org/levothyroxine.htm

I know these are hardly authoritative sources and I'll be relieved if it's not true!

I certainly don't think I've done myself any good - I had bad side effects (a few episodes of palpitations and a burning feeling in my gullet) a couple of weeks after I started taking the levothyroxine, which I put down to the drug, but which I now think are more likely to have been caused by the kelp, as they cleared up once I stopped it.
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Avatar_f_tn
I really wouldn't be too worried.  I read the link, and I think what he refers to is what I said above...iodine can exacerbate the autoimmune response with Hashi's (he doesn't say that in so many words, but I think that's the message).  On the other hand, iodine might skew thyroid TESTS.  

Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.  So, were you deficient, iodine could help.  Though iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S., it is possible.  Do you use iodized salt?

Also, you're on a very low dose of levo. I really highly doubt you've done your thyroid any damage.  As with anything else, just go easy on any supplements...stay within RDA.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks so much for replying - you've made me feel a lot less anxious.

I'm in the UK, where it's less routine for salt, bread etc to be iodised than in the US. But I think it was probably a mistake to try to eat more iodine-rich foods AND use supplements - I now realise one or the other would have been sufficient and I'm going to lay off the supplements from now on. I think I just went into panic mode when I got the diagnosis.

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Avatar_f_tn
I've been on Levothyroxine for 2 years now. When I started taking it I lost 15 lbs right away, yay! I started taking iodine and 25mcg Synthroid for 2 months now. It's been a disaster! I've had dizzy spells, heart palpatations daily, shortness of breath and have gained 13lbs in 2 months!
Bad idea.
I'm going to stop taking the iodine supplement.
Iodine deficiency is very high in the U.S. and iodized salt is not enough to help. I've heard that it's good to stay away from iodine-rich foods ie. strawberries, kale, spinach while on Levo or Synthroid.
Good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
I think the foods you refer to...strawberries, kale and spinach (among many others)...are not iodine rich, but goitrogens, which are foods that can cause thyroid inflammation.  The goitrogens in these foods are killed by cooking, so they're only an issue when eaten raw.

I'm curious as to whether you adjusted your Synthroid dose when you added the iodine supplement.  I also wonder if your 25 mcg of Synthroid is sufficient to bring your FT3 and FT4 levels up to target levels (not just in the bottom of the range).  Weight gain is a symptom of hypo.  

Please post recent thyroid labs if you have them and include refeence range that vary lab to lab.

Do you have Hashi's?  
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Avatar_f_tn
I was kept on 25 mcg levothyroxine for a long time. I am familiar with the dizzy spells, light-headed days, exhaustion, headaches, body pains, out of it feelings, brain fog, joint pain, etc.  My doctor was basing keeping me on such a low dose from just a TSH test.  Once my TSH got around 1 she was happy ~ and I was miserable.

I wised up and found a new doctor.  She noted that my light headed days and dizzy spells was from my heart which was at 50 bpm in office.  She tested my Free Ts and found them extremely low.  Since February I have raised my levels considerably with a higher dose of NDT, but am still working towards getting my Free T4 to mid range and Free T3 to upper range. My TSH now is .008.   Huge difference! I feel wonderful....
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm on Armour, strawberries kale spinach, are these a no on Armour too? but if there cooked its ok?
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Avatar_f_tn
Strawberries, kale and spinach (among many others...google goitrogens) are goitrogens.  Goitrogens are substances in food that can cause thyroid inflammation.  They can make your thyroid swell causing discomfort.  They do not interfere with any thyroid meds; they can interfere with your thyroid function (if you have any left).

Yes, cooking does destroy goitrogens.

I eat goitrogens all the time, raw and cooked.  They don't bother me at all (I think my thyroid is dead and gone).  As with everthing else dietary, if avoiding them makes you feel better, then do so,  If not, there's no reason not to eat this group of foods which contains some very healthy items.  Broccoli, cabbage and all the cruciferous veggies contain goitrogens as well as the others already mentioned.
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