Iodine Supplements – ADD & ADHD Epidemic

What reasons are there for so many of our chidlren and youth being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD?  And why do our health professionals pay so little attention to nutrition and biochemistry?  Have we become so indoctrinated and dependent upon the advancements in medicine, or maybe we have forgotten the importance of nutrition.  And might an iodine supplement be effective in helping the physical and mental well being of our children and youth?

Here’s just one of many studies published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1990.  Two-thirds of children born in an iodine deficient area had attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) whereas none of the children from an iodine-sufficient area had this disorder.  In addition to ADHD these children had IQs 20 points lower than the controls.  The researchers considered that an iodine deficiency caused defective neuromotor and lowered cognitive abilities.

Of course this study selected a population which ate products grown in a region where the soil was depleted of iodine.  Most of us don’t live on islands with a narrowed range of selection but we do eat foods from other parts of our country and the world with little knowledge as to its iodine content.  It is very likely that most produce is grown in iodine deficient soils and that all of us are suffering to some degree from an iodine insufficiency. 

This insufficiency is also passed on from one generation to the next.  It is a well know fact that in the last trimester a woman’s breasts increase in the number of special channels which actively absorb iodine and iodide so that during lactation or breast feeding these important trace minerals will be passed on to the infant.  This initial 6 months of life outside the womb is especially critical for the development of the child’s brain and iodine is known to play a very important role.  Every physician if familiar with the condition of cretinism in children which is a severe stunting of brain and body development due to an iodine deficiency.  I believe iodine deficiency has degrees and is reflected in the increase in the number of our children being labeled by physicians.

From the NY Times, 1996, “Iodine deficiency has caused mental retardation in 50 million children worldwide including 10 million in China” and our World Health Organization (1996) estimates 2 billion people suffere from iodine deficiency disorders. 

Looking at one of the more popular infant formulas, Enfamil, each 5 ounce serving contains 10 mcg of iodine.  Our US Department of Agriculture (USDA), even though they are working with the false premise of 150 mcg of iodine being adequate for health, provides a listing of nutrient recommendations and iodine for newborns is 110 mcg.  I consider this to be an absolute minimum daily requirement.  So you can see that if a child is not breast fed the will be deficient in iodine and suffer the long term mental and physical consequences.  It’s also interesting to note that they upped their recommendation to 220 mcg for lactating women. 

By the way the USDA also established what they call their ‘Tollerance Upon Intake’ (TUI) which likely means what a person can take without doing any harm.  For lactating women it’s 2,000 mcg or 2 mg of iodine and for children between the ages of 4 and 8 the TUI is 300 mcg.  The TUI for infants has not been determined.  But for that matter I wonder how they determined 300 mcg for children.

Might the epidemic of children and youth diagnosed with ADD and ADHD be partly due to a lack of iodine?  Absolutely.

Do pediatricians, psychiatrists and other physicians ever consider our children’s need for these two all important trace minerals?  Most often not.

How unfortunate that our society has become so complacent and so far away from our connection with the earth.  Certainly putting a lot more emphasis on nutrition and the eating of organic foods will bring some degree of reassurance but still, I truly believe that we cannot rely solely on foods to provide our bodies and minds with the level of iodine and iodide we need for maximum health.

It’s time to reconsider who is really in charge of the health of our children and youth.  It actually comes down to us.

Dr. Alexander Haskell, N.D.

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