Iodine & Detoxing For Nuclear Fallout | Natural Health Newsletter

Date: 03/15/2011    Written by: Jon Barron

Preparing for Nuclear Fallout

Certainly, everyone now knows about the major earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. And certainly, everyone who has been following this great human tragedy is also aware that three nuclear power stations are at risk. After that, however, accurate information is spottier, and speculation is far, far higher. Words such as meltdown and partial meltdown and containment are being bandied about with little understanding of what they actually mean. And far too many people outside of Japan are panicking with little justification for panic…yet.

Let me quickly explain over the next few minutes:

  • What we know is happening.
  • What might happen in the near future.
  • What the potential dangers are.
  • What precautions you might want to take -- for yourself and your children.

China syndrome -- not really

Several decades ago, it was hypothesized that in an extreme nuclear reactor accident, the reactor's core could get so hot that it might possibly melt down, burn through the containment barriers beneath it, and then continue to flow downwards through the floor of the containment building -- ultimately melting all the way through the crust of the earth and popping out on the other side in China. Thus, the name: "China syndrome."

In truth, this scenario is likely as fictional as the movie based on the name. Since the surrounding ground beneath the reactor would absorb most of the heat during a meltdown -- transferring the heat ever outward to the surrounding ground. For that reason, it is likely that the uranium core of a nuclear reactor would not melt down into the earth more than about 90-100 feet (about 30 meters), which is a bit short of the 8,000 miles needed to realize the China syndrome. So, the bottom line is that a meltdown by itself would be unlikely to pose a danger to the world at large -- although it would be severely damaging to the area immediately surrounding the reactor for many, many years to come.

Into the atmosphere

For the world at large, the danger comes when containment is broken, not downwards in a China syndrome type event, but rather in an upward direction from an explosion, which then releases substantial amounts of radioactivity high into the atmosphere by some subsequent event. For example, in the case of the Chernobyl reactor in 1986, the Number Four RBMK reactor went out of control during a test, which demolished the entire reactor building. It was a subsequent fire that then spewed large amounts of radiation high (a critical point) into the atmosphere. Once in the upper atmosphere, high winds and jet streams can carry the radioactivity all around the world, ultimately dropping radioactivity on everyone. But the reactors at Chernobyl were very, very different from the reactors in Japan. Unlike most reactors used in the developed world (including Japan), the Soviet Union RBMK reactors were built without a containment structure, the concrete and steel dome over the reactor designed to keep radiation inside the plant in the event of such an accident.

The bottom line is that even if there is a meltdown in one of the Japanese reactors, it is unlikely to breach containment in an upward direction. In fact, there has already been an explosion in one of the reactors with no breach of containment. (Understand, containment structures in nuclear reactors are really, really strong. In the United States, for example, they must be strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture -- for obvious reasons.) And if there is any breach of containment, it is likely to be small in scope and unlikely to reach the upper atmosphere, in which case, damage would be localized, not global.

That said, it is important to recognize that "unlikely" does not mean "impossible." In other words, there is some degree of risk, no matter how small, that substantial amounts of radiation may leak from one or more of the Japanese reactors, make its way into the upper atmosphere, and ultimately drop down on the United States and the rest of the world. The amount of exposure to citizens outside of Japan would ultimately be small; but unfortunately, in the case of some types of radiation, small amounts of exposure can have significant health consequences -- particularly for the vulnerable. The particularly nasty forms of radiation that we're talking about include plutonium, iodine-131 and 134, strontium-90, and cesium-137.

Given exposure to radioactive fallout, you will want to focus on three things:

  • Protecting your thyroid, the most vulnerable organ in your body
  • Removing as much of the radiation as possible from your body, as quickly as possible
  • Protecting your DNA from genetic mutation

Let's now talk about how we do this.


As mentioned above, radioactive iodine-131 is one of the elements likely to be released into the upper atmosphere after a nuclear event. Carried great distances on high speed winds, it can then drop down into the lower atmosphere, where it may be breathed into the lungs. It can also contaminate crops on the ground and get into the body through food and drink. (Fruits and wines are particularly susceptible.) The problem is that your thyroid gland has a tremendous affinity for iodine, radioactive or otherwise. In other words, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs radioactive iodine, where it can injure or even kill the gland. In fact, radioactive iodine is often administered by doctors specifically to kill the thyroid as a treatment in some thyroid diseases such as Grave's disease.

If, on the other hand, you want to protect your thyroid from exposure to radioactive iodine as might be experienced through fallout, taking non-radioactive iodine just before (or immediately after) exposure will block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland. It will thus protect this gland from injury. However, it is important to note that it will not prevent radioactive iodine, or any other form of radiation for that matter, from entering your body. It will not repair damage to the thyroid; nor will it remove the radioactive iodine once it has entered your body. Taking non-radioactive iodine before exposure will merely "pre-fill" your thyroid with iodine so that there is no room for the radioactive iodine to be taken up by your thyroid; thus the need to take the non-radioactive iodine before or immediately after exposure. Likewise, if radioactive iodine is not present or imminent, taking prophylactic non-radioactive iodine offers no protection, not to mention some risk from reactions to the high levels of supplemental iodine.

Ideally, the best time to take supplemental iodine is an hour or so before exposure, or immediately upon exposure, for maximum protection. Take it too soon in advance, and it will begin to clear the thyroid before the radioactive iodine enters the body, thus diminishing its effectiveness. (Iodine pretty much clears the thyroid in about 24 hours.) Take it too late, and the radioactive iodine will have already been taken up by the thyroid, in which case there will be little benefit. One thing to keep in mind is that a good liquid form of iodine, such as is available at most health stores will be taken up by your body almost immediately after ingestion, thus allowing you to wait until the last possible second.

Note: you don't have to jump the gun. Public health officials will advise you when you need to take supplemental iodine as protection. (Yes, I understand, they may prevaricate about the events leading up to a nuclear event. But once the event has happened and the radiation has escaped into the atmosphere, it will be impossible to hide. You will be told.) The trick is to make sure you have a supply of iodine on hand when you need it. Public health officials are prepared to provide everyone supplies of potassium iodide after a localized incident in areas surrounding a single nuclear plant, for example. But they certainly do not have enough iodine on hand to cover broad areas of a country to protect from exposure settling down from the upper atmosphere. Unfortunately, if you wait until the last minute, stores are likely to be sold out in a spree of panic buying -- as we are seeing now. Just keep an emergency supply on hand for you and your family, and you'll be fine.

The standard form of iodine used in nuclear power plants to protect workers against radiation exposure in case of a leak is potassium iodide (also called KI). It is a salt of iodine that has the virtue of being stable. It will also be the kind you hear recommended most often on television since newscasters get their marching orders from the medical community and governments. But potassium iodide is not the only form of stable iodine. In fact, all food grade sources (and extracts from those sources) such as kelp are equally stable and may be used instead. You just have to make sure you use enough.

How much iodine should I take?

According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

  • Adults up through age 40 should take 130 mg. (Note: this is about 700 times the normal daily recommended dose of 150 mcg. Also note that most iodine supplements sold in health food stores are sold in microgram doses, not the milligrams you need for thryroid blockage.) People over the age of 40 should only take supplemental iodine if they are exposed to a large dose of radiation. Older adults are the least likely to develop thyroid cancer and the most likely to have allergic reactions to the iodine. Obviously, the older you are, the less you should think about taking prophylactic doses of iodine.
  • Women who are breastfeeding should take 130 mg. Pregnant women should take only one dose. And, I hate to say this, but nursing mothers should probably stop breastfeeding if they are exposed and use formula if available. If formula is not available, continue breastfeeding.
  • Children between the ages of 3 and 18 should take 65 mg. Children who weigh 150 lbs or more should take 130 mg, regardless of their age.
  • Infants and toddlers between the ages of 1 month and 3 years (either nursing or non-nursing) should take 32 mg.
  • Newborns from birth to 1 month (both nursing and non-nursing) should be given 16 mg. Note: newborns less than 1 month old who receive more than one dose of KI are at particular risk for developing hypothyroidism. If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage. Infants who receive supplemental iodine should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor. Avoid repeat dosing.

Note: The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at the levels recommended above is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine might be in the environment for more than 24 hours. If that happens, local emergency management or public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days. You should do this only on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants. For those individuals, evacuation may be the best alternative until levels of radioactive iodine fall.

Taking a higher dose of iodine, or taking iodine more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

Also do not take iodine:

  • If you are already taking medication with high levels of iodine.
  • You are allergic to iodine.
  • If you have a thyroid disease that is iodine sensitive such as Grave's disease, do not take supplemental iodine without your doctor's permission and guidance.

And finally, if panic buying has cleaned your local store's shelves of iodine tablets, there is an alternative. Most people probably went to the "iodine" section of their health food store. There's a good chance they didn't check out the herbal extract section. You may find an iodine extract there that might have been ignored because the dosage "seems" low at first glance. I particularly like the Tincture of Iodine with Kelp from Vitality Works. The dosage seems low since it's listed by the drop, but each bottle contains about 195 mg of iodine, making it easy to divide as necessary to get the appropriate dose. Uptake by the body is really quick. In most cases, two-thirds of a bottle will provide 130 mg. That means 2-3 bottles will cover most families.

Is there anything else you should do?


Iodine only protects the thyroid, and only protects against radioactive iodine (iodine-131 and iodine-134). It doesn't offer any protection against plutonium, cesium-137, and strontium-90, which are also likely to be present.  It doesn't clear radioactive matter from your body. It doesn't protect against damage to your genetic material. If worst comes to worst, then I recommend a three-pronged approach.

  • Use supplemental prophylactic iodine as described above.
  • Use a good colon detox formula that contains substantial amounts of apple pectin and montmorillonite clay. As I've said for years, apple pectin actually draws radioactive waste from your body and passes it out through your colon. It's one of the reasons I include it in my Colon Detox formula -- to remove everyday contamination. This is not wishful alternative health thinking. Apple pectin was used in the aftermath of Chernobyl to reduce the load of radioactive cesium in children. Montmorillonite clay also has a strong affinity for radioactive matter.
  • Use a supplement such as a good antioxidant formula or blood cleansing formula that contains chaparral extract. The primary biochemical in chaparral, NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid), has been shown to protect the body against genetic damage caused by exposure to radioactivity.
  • (Addendum -- added 3/17) Keep in mind that plutonium, cesium, and strontium are all metals and so, to some degree, can be chelated from the body. Look for a heavy metal detox formula that contains both chlorella and cilantro.

Again, remember!

  • We do not have an emergency situation yet.
  • You don't want to take prophylactic iodine prematurely since it clears out of the thyroid in 24 hours.
  • Overdosing on iodine is a distinct possibility if you get carried away. Don't get carried away.

The bottom line is that there is no need for panic. Outside of Japan, nothing has happened yet. Chill out. The odds of anything serious happening outside of Japan are very, very low. Your best bet is to make sure you have some iodine locked away for some future emergency. For further information, check out the related topic: Radiation Therapy, What Comes After?

For more information about radiation and Japan's nuclear disaster, continue on and read Jon's newsletter titled Radioactive Fallout Update!

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    Submitted by Rachel on
    March 15, 2011 - 3:13pm

    Mr Klaus,
    Your statement makes little sense. How about proper spelling and grammar and then we could make sense of what you are trying to write!

    Submitted by jonbarron on
    March 15, 2011 - 1:23pm


    According to reports now coming out of Tokyo, officials say they detected 0.8 of a micro-sievert of radiation in the morning.

    This is about 27 times what’s considered normal, and that is causing some panic in people writing into the Foundation. However, it is important to understand that a chest X-ray typically involves a dose of 20 micro-sieverts.

    Bottom line: the damaged reactor is definitely discharging notable amounts of radiation into the air, but it is not yet blowing it into the upper atmosphere, and the problem is still localized to Japan at the moment. 

    Submitted by Admirer of your work and honesty on
    March 15, 2011 - 2:25pm

    I would have to agree with Casey above. I, too, appreciate the calm assessment. Right now, to me, you seem like the anchor in the storm. Something I think we all are sorely needing. It was a horrible thing that happened to those poor people and I really feel for them.
    Thank you for all you have taught me throughout the years.

    Submitted by Amber on
    March 15, 2011 - 3:24pm

    I have potassium IODATE, rather than potassium IODIDE. Are the dosages the same. It says on the label to take it just one time 49 mg. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and am in need of iodine and thyroxine. I have not taken any T3 or T4 supplements yet. Just ATOMIDINE. Will the IODATE supply my thyroid with the necessary iodine to prevent the radioactive iodine? Thanks so much. Amber

    Submitted by jgarma on
    March 15, 2011 - 11:37pm

    There are differences between P. Iodine (KI) and P. Iodate (KIO3). Both forms are often supplied by governments when exposure to radioactivity happens. Both will help prevent radioactive iodine from affecting the thyroid, however neither is a panacea.

    More on this here:

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 15, 2011 - 4:10pm

    My N.D. recommends the use of Spirulina -- apparently it was used at Cherynobyl (sp??) with excellent results. And certainly, it cannot hurt anyone, as it is a food.

    Submitted by Courtney Bostdorff on
    March 15, 2011 - 5:30pm

    Hi John,

    I'm over here on Oahu and it seems that all of the stores have run out of Potassium Iodide and Iodine in general. Any suggestions on where one might find a supplier?


    Submitted by Guest on
    March 15, 2011 - 5:49pm

    Hi, and thanks for this timely report. I'm sure me as well as everyone else is most worried about their kids--can you address specifically supplements that are safe for toddlers (in my specific case) in the event of radioactive fallout. Are your colon detox and blood/antioxidants safe for 2 year olds? What's the best thing for our kids as far as supplements beside the iodide if it becomes necessary? Thank you.

    Submitted by kat on
    March 15, 2011 - 9:18pm

    I disagree with your fear of taking higher dose iodine/iodide on a daily basis. Dr. Abrahamson, Dr. Brownstein, Dr. Jonathan V Wright, Dr. Gaby all have written or spoken in seminars about the safe usage of high dose iodine.

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 17, 2011 - 9:45am

    Hi and thanks for your comment. I will search Joanthan Wright and the other sources you mention for the type and amount of high dose they recommendI in the meantime do you happen to know protocol for cats- or reference site I can go to?

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 16, 2011 - 12:45am

    In reference to Jon's comments about the disaster still being localized, I don't know that there is any way to definitively confirm that Jon. I imagine that we don't not get a clear representation from the american media...David Wolfe reports in an email that on his return from Seoul South Korea, that the severity of the issue is all over Seoul TV and that it's "probably the worst disaster in history". So there's both ends of the spectrum in may not be localized, we cannot irrefuteably know that at this point. (unless you have a source in Japan who is seeing it firsthand). Thanks for all the information.

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 16, 2011 - 1:39am

    headless chickens comes to mind, good advice Jon but there is an awful lot of unnecessary panic going on in my opinion, there is plenty of natural radiation all around, you can get a decent dose just by living in some places

    Submitted by Lyn R. on
    March 16, 2011 - 1:44am

    Wish I read this earlier today, instead of read some blogs on the internet and watched the news on tv. Would of saved me from a lot of stress and anxiety. Thank you so much Mr. Barron for your very informative and factual article. I truly appreciate it.

    My heart, prayers and well wishes go out to everyone in Japan. May they find a way to finally contain and stop the awful problems they're faced with right now at the nuclear plant, and overcome all of this as soon as possible. Positive thoughts....

    Submitted by Rich on
    March 17, 2011 - 11:42am

    I saw Vitality Works at Wholefoods, but I think everyone is out of stock now. Other websites talk about eating seaweed, but you have to eat quite a bit to have any effect. Maybe all we can do is stay inside, and detox later.

    Submitted by Dan Burdick on
    March 17, 2011 - 3:28pm

    Many people are deficient in iodine. The thyroid gland takes up iodine when it can. With the Nuclear plants destroyed in Japan there is release into the air of radioactive isotopes 131 and 123. There has been a run on potassium iodine pills that are used to saturate the thyroid with iodine to prevent absorption. These are mostly sold out now. There is debate on the advisability of taking such very large doses beyond when it is clearly called for. Hopefully people here are monitoring air and rain levels and reporting this information in our news. In my opinion this is an appropriate time to spend a few weeks trying to get More than the RDA of iodine in our diets -instead of Less. I suggest a run on Tuna, Cod, Shrimp, Celtic Seasalt, Kelp powder, Nori, Kombu, Wakame and Arame at our favorite stores.

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 17, 2011 - 11:13am

    What if I take bioidentical T3/T4 for hypothyroidism? Do I just have to remain unprotected from radioactive iodine and risk getting cancer? I have seen no information on what people on thyroid hormone should do. "Not take iodine" isn't an answer. We don't want to get cancer, either! I am under 40. Would stopping my meds for a day and taking iodine instead be OK?

    Submitted by Sharon on
    April 6, 2011 - 7:27am

    I was given radioactive iodine as a child for hyperthyroidism. I had become allergic to the neomercazole that I was given. Later I had a partial thyroidectomy.and have been on thyroid supplements since. This was over 25 years ago. How can I protect myself now?

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 17, 2011 - 11:39am

    One thing that is smart to do, if we get radiation in the states, is to only drink distilled water. Distilled water removes radioactive substances, just as it will remove the element iodine, it will also remove radioactive iodine. Most of the children who died from cancer around Chernobyl was due to drinking contaminated water and milk.

    Submitted by karen on
    March 16, 2011 - 3:20pm

    I read that some companies are promoting potassium iodate but it is not the same as potassium iodide and should not be used. Kelp and wheat grass juice together are a good combination. Kelp contains iodine and the chlorophyll in wheat grass juice also contains iodine. Nascent iodine is a very safe form of iodine and easily absorbed by the thyroid gland. It should still available online somewhere. It can also be used to purify water and is good to have on hand for emergencies. Someone mentioned spirulina which probably has iodine in, just like the wheatgrass juice but I haven't read up on it. Fruits (such as apples and pears have pectin and I am going to keep some around to give my grand kids. Hope this helps.

    Submitted by Zylo on
    March 16, 2011 - 3:01pm

    lol I was about to take a sail trip on the pacific right off BC..probably not the best idea now :p

    Submitted by Mjr. Dzaster From Day of Defeat on
    March 16, 2011 - 5:52pm

    I have not been using the Main-Stream Corporate (News?) as my source of news because the corporate controlled (news?) is generally very least here in the United States anyway. I use Pacifica Radio specifically KPFK 90.7 FM here in Los Angeles, California as my main source for news. It is a fully publicly funded news source without ANY corrupt or corrupted so-called news...i.e. propaganda from corporate America or any of its allies in the greedy Capitalist system. There has already been very good information coming out on Pacifica Radio about what's going on in Japan with regards to the nuclear problems. As any sane human being would know, nuclear power as a source of energy is NOT a "Clean" source of energy in any way, shape or form. And it is the long term problems that arise IF a nuclear power station actually survives it's intended life span without incident. No, nuclear power is not an issue for the "answer" to our world's energy needs, but more a political tool used by greedy executives in the IAEA's agenda to proliferate more vacation homes and private residences for their families while filling their purses to overflowing with mula. Nuclear power = Insanity!

    Submitted by Brian on
    March 16, 2011 - 4:01am

    OMG. If it blows up ... how much of the radiation will reach California??!!! I'm soo scared! 

    Submitted by Mariely on
    March 17, 2011 - 7:06pm

    Please read this newsletter!

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 16, 2011 - 7:11am

    I happen to have Iodine Tincture in my medicine cabinet. It indicates that it is a First Aid Antiseptic for External Use only; mild USP; 47% alcohol. The bottle contains 1 Fl.Oz. Can this be "converted" to be used internally in case of radiation?

    Submitted by Kristi on
    March 16, 2011 - 10:30am

    I found out that no, you dont want to take topical iodine internally, it wont work in the way you need it to.

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 19, 2011 - 1:09am

    No, do not ingest this! Apply to skin only! Your skin will absorb and will go to Thyroid.

    Submitted by Guest on
    March 30, 2011 - 2:37pm

    No. Topical iodine cannot be ingested. You can put it on a maxipad or tampon and rub it on your breasts or testes. You can also mix it with shaving cream as topical use. Female parts and the male testes are most susceptible to the radioactive iodine 131.

    Submitted by AW on
    March 20, 2011 - 6:19pm

    I have friends who keep asking me what they can do , they are both allergic to iodine , is there a safe alternative they can have on hand in case of unforeseen nuclear accident etc?

    Submitted by Sharon Shuppert on
    March 22, 2011 - 7:42pm

    I am a flight attendant and am scheduled for 3 flights to Narita, Japan, each trip entails having a 24 hour layover in Narita. Narita is located 147 miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. I am trying to find info on radiation levels in Narita, but have not found good information. I have no known thyroid conditions and am preparing for a cleanse including colon cleansing, raw foods and fresh vegetable juices. I take Waiora Natural Cellular Defense (suspended liquid zeolite)and plan in increasing my dosage to 10 drops 3 times daily. Would your recommend taking the 130mg of Tincture of Iodine (provided I can find it) upon landing NRT (Narita) each time? I am comfortable with the idea of continuing with your colon cleanse for the month, but wondering about the iodine. Thank you!

    Submitted by HotChickityDog on
    July 10, 2011 - 10:54pm

    NOW how do you feel? With radiation in our food, in our drinking water, in our air and in our ocean and soil ?


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