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Side Effects of Too Much Iodine

Without the trace mineral iodine, the human body and its thyroid gland would not be able to function properly. However, while sufficient levels of iodine are absolutely necessary for our health and wellbeing, too much iodine can have side effects. Some of these side effects are discussed below.

The Acne Iodine Connection

Research suggests that too much iodine can cause an acneiform eruption in some people (acneiform eruption refers to a group of skin problems including acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, folliculitis and perioral dermatitis). Such side effects are encountered mostly when iodine supplements are consumed, but some dermatologists and nutritionists recommend that people who are prone to acne restrict the use of iodized salt and foods that are rich in iodine. Experts also sometimes recommend the administration of nicotinic acid (also known as niacin or vitamin B3) for acne patients, as nicotinic acid has properties that may neutralize or counteract some of the aggravating properties of iodine.

Iodine and Goiter — Too Much of a Good Thing...

If your thyroid gland does not get the iodine it needs for making thyroid hormone, it may swell and cause the neck or larynx to swell as well. This swelling of the thyroid gland is known as goiter (or goitre). Interestingly, evidence suggests that also too much iodine can cause goiter in some cases. Especially in the US and many other Western countries were iodine deficiency is relatively rare, goiter cases may be due to excess iodine.

It is however important to be aware that a paucity of iodine and excess iodine are not the only possible causes of goiter; also hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and a few other conditions can cause swelling of the thyroid.

Side Effects Associated With Potassium Iodide (KI) Pills

Potassium iodide pills (colloquially known as anti-nuke pills) are made stable (not radioactive), and can be taken to reduce the risk of sickness caused by exposure to radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide, or KI, works by flooding the thyroid with stable iodine, thereby reducing the thyroid's ability to absorb and retain radioactive iodine (iodine-131) which can cause cancer in a relatively short time. Iodide tablets protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine from all sources: the air, food and water.

When public health officials tell the public to take potassium iodide following a nuclear or radiologic hazard, the public should obey as the benefits of taking this drug outweigh the side effects. It is however important to be aware of the adverse health effects that may occur after a consumption of large doses of potassium iodide. These effects may include (severe) allergic reactions, soreness of teeth and gums, intestinal upset such as diarrhea, rashes and other skin problems, depression, inflammation of the salivary glands and thyroid problems. The risk of experiencing n adverse health effect involving the thyroid increases if you exceed the recommended dose of iodide, take the medication for several days or if you already suffer from a thyroid disease.