Iodine can relieve breast pain, ovulation pain, premenstrual mood symptoms, and help to prevent ovarian cysts. It works by promoting healthy estrogen metabolism, down-regulating estrogen receptors, and stabilizing estrogen-sensitive tissue including breasts, uterus, ovaries, and the brain.
Iodine’s anti-estrogen effect makes it one of the best treatments for estrogen excess or “estrogen dominance”—although I don’t use that term.
Iodine for women’s health
Milligram dose iodine can be an effective nutritional strategy for the following women’s health conditions:
- fibrocystic breasts, breast cysts, and pain
- ovulation pain
- prevention of ovarian cysts
- irregular periods including some types of PCOS
- prevention of fibroids
- heavy periods
- premenstrual mood symptoms including PMS and PMDD.
👉 Tip: Iodine’s benefits for endometriosis may stem (at least in part) from its antimicrobial and immune-modulating effects.
👉 Tip: Additional treatments for premenstrual mood symptoms include a dairy-free, histamine-reducing diet, magnesium, vitamin B6, and progesterone.
Milligram dose means 1 to 3 mg (1000 to 3000 mcg) preferably as molecular iodine (I2) like the Violet Daily brand which is better for breasts and safer for the thyroid. That bigger dose of iodine is safe only if you test negative for thyroid antibodies (see below).
👉 Tip: Taking selenium can help to protect the thyroid gland from iodine.
Be careful if you have thyroid disease
Before taking iodine, it’s important to test thyroid antibodies (also called anti-thyroid antibodies, or anti-TPO antibodies) because too much iodine, especially potassium iodide, can harm the thyroid or trigger autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroid disease).
If you test positive for thyroid antibodies (or have already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease), do not take more than 0.3 mg (300 mcg) of iodine. This may, unfortunately, not be enough to relieve women’s health symptoms. A large dose of iodine is not safe for Hashimoto’s.
👉Tip: If you think you don’t need iodine because your thyroid test is normal, it’s actually the opposite strategy. A normal thyroid result means it’s safe to try iodine for its anti-estrogen benefits. An abnormal thyroid result (especially high thyroid antibodies) means it’s not safe to try iodine.
How to assess iodine deficiency
Breast tenderness is the most reliable symptom of iodine deficiency and is more useful than any lab test.
Risk factors for iodine deficiency include perimenopause and a plant-based or vegan diet (because plant foods are low in iodine).
Food sources of iodine
- Seafood (10 – 190 mcg per 100 grams).
- Egg yolks (24 mcg per yolk).
- Grass-fed butter, but only if it’s grown on iodine-rich soil.
- Iodized salt (400 mcg per teaspoon).
- Seaweed or kelp (2 – 800 mcg per 100 grams). Unfortunately, kelp also contains bromine, which prevents the uptake of iodine, and may contain toxic metals.
- Plant foods such as mushrooms and leafy greens, but only if they’re grown on iodine-rich soil.