“Who wants breakfast? We have chicken and kelp, eggs and kelp and, for those on a diet, kelp and kelp.” Me at breakfast today, hawking my wares to the kids
Potassium iodide has been long recognized as a proper prophylactic measure in the face of radiation emergencies. Unfortunately for folks in Japan who have recently faced a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and are also now looking at the potential nuclear meltdown of two reactor cores in Fukushima prefecture, potassium iodide is a controlled substance and not available for prophylactic use. You can get it, but only by prescription, which means you need to be sick first.
For the rest of us in Japan, therefore, we need to address the issue of iodine on our own. The best natural source of iodine is from so-called “sea vegetables” such as kelp. Kelp is a type of seaweed and is a feature of the Japanese diet. It is commonly used in making soup broths and certain types have a lovely texture, especially when cooked.
In the face of uncertain radiation exposure, I’ve begun an aggressive protocol. For my family, that means kelp has become a staple of the diet. Kelp at every meal. Oh, boy! 😉
On average, 20 grams of kelp contain 415 mcg of iodine. For adults 18-40 (or adolescents reaching a weight of ~70 kg), 50-60 grams of kelp/day should act as a reasonable prophylactic protocol. Children need approximately half that amount. In adults over 40, I’ve read that prophylactic protocols do not recommend the standard adult dosage until thyroid radiation exposure reaches 500 cGy or greater. This is because the risk of cancer and hypothyroidism decreases as adults age. Since I intend to live to be at minimum 120 years old, I have every intention of ignoring this advice and taking the regular adult protocol.
Current information about radiation risk in Japan is mixed. On one hand, the government is stating that there is no risk to humans and that only steam was released in the explosion at the plant. Contradicting that information, however, is a report that they recorded the presence of cesium isotopes in the atmosphere around the plant. That can only mean that containment has failed to at least some degree and that it’s not a question of whether radiation will leak but rather how much.
The purpose of using iodine or potassium iodide as a prophylactic protocol in (preparation for) radiation emergencies is that radioactive iodine isotopes are released during uncontrolled thermonuclear reactions. If our thyroid’s iodine receptors are not fully bound with healthful iodine, any radioactive iodine isotopes we ingest or inhale can bind in our thyroid and cause long-term DNA damage. The result of that can be radiation sickness, cancer and death.
To all my friends, family and clients in Japan, I encourage you to eat kelp and plenty of it. Be creative in how you prepare it. And until you know otherwise – without doubt – keep your iodine levels sufficient to protect from long-term radiation poisoning.
As an adjunctive measure, read up on other lifestyle and nutrition measures here on the site. If you’re experiencing anything other than perfect health, NOW is the time to address the issues so that you can face any coming challenges from a place of well-being instead of a state of compromised health.
Be well. Kelp: It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore!
UPDATE: There seems to be confusion about the difference in recommended dosages of prophylactic KI tablets versus my kelp amounts as defined in the article. Let me take a moment to try to clarify things.
Large amounts or long-term use of iodine are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Adults should avoid prolonged use of doses higher than 1100 mcg per day (the upper tolerable limit, UL) without proper medical supervision. In children, doses should not exceed 200 mcg per day for children 1 to 3 years old, 300 mcg per day for children 4 to 8 years old, 600 mcg per day for children 9 to 13 years old, and 900 mcg per day for adolescents. These are the upper tolerable limits (UL).
The amount of kelp I have suggested as a dietary prophylaxis is based on this information. With 20 grams of kelp containing approximately 415 mcg of bioavailable iodine, I wanted to be careful not to cause people harm. As such, I recommend 50 g of kelp so as to cap daily iodine ingestion to just under 1100 mcg/day.
I am well aware that this is far below the amount of KI recommended in emergency use, but if people are going to self-medicate, they need to do so at levels that are unlikely to cause harm. It’s a gamble: harm from excess iodine or excess radiation … either one is a losing proposition.
Please work with qualified medical professionals in creating a protocol. Radiation is serious business, but so is stable iodine. Don’t trade one problem for another.
Thanks so much for the info. We are in remote Alaska without access to a store with potassium iodide. Are the amounts of kelp you recommend per day green or dried kelp? Weight or volume measure?
The kelp recommendations are based on dried kelp measured by weight and was intended for cooking rather than extract supplementation. Kelp is everywhere here in Japan and can be purchased at any supermarket. I don’t know about your area, but one would hope so.
I make vegetable soup with the kelp as the base of the broth. Just add water to taste to control the saltiness of the broth and add whatever veggies you like. Boil it until the kelp’s texture is to your liking and then serve hot.
If you have any further questions or would like to arrange for energy healing, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
Be safe. Be well. Love, Light and Laughter,
can you take pill based kelp in pill form as being stocked on ebay for example? Everyone is saying it needs to be potassium iodide…
Yes, you can take kelp in a capsule or tablet and gain benefit. The key here is to get iodine into your system. The reason potassium iodide is used is because of its long-term stability. The advice that potassium needs to be used is incorrect, and people who recommend eating bananas in order to get potassium along with their kelp intake is just plain wrong.
Be very careful of purchasing any supplements from unreliable sources. People will absolutely be acting opportunistically in this situation to benefit from people’s fear. Your best bet, as always, is to purchase from recognized sources.
What about the adult dosage of a kelp supplement? If one kelp supplement provided (just for an example) 415mcg of iodine, are you suggesting that an adult take 3 of these a day?
If yes, would you only take this dose during a period of possible radiation exposure?
That would be my immediate suggestion, yes, and you are also correct that you would go back to your regular dosage as soon as the threat of radiation exposure was significantly reduced. Kelp does have a rather significant amount of iron and this can pose issues for people, especially men, as most people tend to get too much iron in their diet anyway. (Most folks don’t need iron supplementation and I recommend that people get their blood-serum levels checked to determine whether they do.)
If I have dried powdered kelp or dried flaked dulse it seems like 50-60 grams would be several tablespoons or in the case of flakes – several fluid ounces. I tried weighing some dulse flakes on a kitchen scale and I think it was under 5 grams so I would need to eat at least 10 tbs? I don’t mind eating that much but would I be overdoing the salt? My dulse is pretty salty.
Thanks for this post.
Sea salt isn’t a health issue as long as you’re not taking in excessive amounts of sodium in other processed foods. Where sodium uptake becomes a serious issue is when we take in sodium chloride (common table “salt”) instead of naturally occurring salts. Since sodium chloride is missing all of the other minerals that our bodies are accustomed to taking in, it throws off our balance.
A good way to make eating so much kelp or dulse more palatable is to serve it with other veggies (and rice, if you’re into that sort of thing), using the natural saltiness of the sea vegetable as the primary spicing. Add some pepper and basil and maybe some sesame oil and you have a nice-tasting, Asian-like serving of goodness.
I’m delighted that you asked the question! If you have more, don’t hesitate!
I should add that if you’re unsure of your overall health and how sodium may be affecting you, you’d be well advised to see a medical professional for a physical. If you’re carrying some extra weight, dealing with hypertension and maybe have a triglycerides issue, sodium is a potential problem.
Make healthful decisions, always!
Only thing left on the shelves was a KELP tablets.
Southern California residents have cleaned stores out of Potassium Iodide tabs.
So I got what they had:
Directions: one daily
150mcg Iodine (from kelp)
300mg Nova Scotia and Pacific kelp
What would be the adult dose and 13 year old child dose? Also any concerns that 4 weeks of use could result in hyper(hypo)thyroidism?
Thank you for posting this great info.
Unfortunately, there’s a bewildering amount of information out there and much of it is contradictory. The best I’ve been able to find is that ~130 mg of iodine is an appropriate dosage for adults. For children 12-18 years old (under 70kg/155lbs), the dosage would be 1/2. I would be inclined to not give your child more than 4/day. There ARE contraindications involved with taking larger amounts of iodine over the long term, and overdose is a significant concern. If you’re unsure, seek advice from qualified medical professionals.
It’s important for all to note that I’m NOT a qualified medical professional and, therefore, I’m not qualified to prescribe anything whatsoever. If you have questions or concerns about how to protect yourself and those you love, I strongly advise you to work with medical professionals. The only way to be sure that you’re safe is to monitor your blood-serum and thyroid iodine levels.
Also, please take a look at relevant documentation regarding prophylaxis iodine use for radiation emergencies. The WHO, US government and other sites all have useful information that can help you make good decisions.
just wanted to say that i can’t thank you enough for your information. it’s folks like you, who are making this life saving info available to everyone, that make this world a community. than-you and take good care!
Thank you for the sweet words, Chandra. I hope that everybody finds some use to what I’ve written here. All I’m doing is trying to find the best answers I can to protect my family and sharing that information with others so they can make the best, informed decisions possible.
Be well. 🙂
Thank you for posting this information! I have been researching potassium iodide (KI) and appreciated your information on how much KI is in kelp. I thought I would share a bit of what I have discovered as well: It is important to know that potassium iodide ( KI) works only to prevent the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine, therefore protecting you from thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation emergency). “It is not a general radioprotective agent.” It is also important to understand that large doses of potassium iodide over an extended period can cause serious health issues which may not be reverseable. In summary, you should avoid taking large doses of potassium iodide for a prolonged period. People with known iodine sensitivity should not take potassium iodide. Also, those with certain health issues should avoid it all together or use it with great caution and under the supervision of a physician. If you have health issues, talk to your doctor before you take potassium iodide (KI).
Below is the FDA’s website on use of Potassium Iodide in a nuclear emergency. I found the information and links helpful. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.
Thank you so very much for posting such excellent information! You’re absolutely correct that there are significant concerns when taking KI and kelp in therapeutic doses. People are well advised to work very closely with medical professionals to ensure they don’t put themselves at risk.
Thank you for sharing and making the site even better.
Oops, I got so involved with sharing my research that I forgot to ask my questions.
If the protective potassium iodide (KI) dose in the event of a radiation emergency is 130mg (130,000 mcg ) for adults and half that (65 mg or 65,000 mcg) for children, is it possible to get enough KI from kelp powder (at 415 mcg per 20 gm)? Or would that much kelp give me horrible diarrhea for days?
Welcome back, Saskia. 🙂
Sea vegetables are pretty high in fibre. As well, they tend to have a flora population that differ somewhat from other vegetables. As such, it’s possible that if you were to experience a sudden increase in this type of food, you may suffer from bowel instability. Ultimately, whether you experience diarrhea all depends on how much fibre and sea vegetables are a regular part of your diet. The less fibre and kelp, etc. in your regular diet, the more likely you are to suffer from loose bowels as a result of a dramatic dietary change.
One would likely have a hard time eating enough sea vegetables to completely satisfy the requirements for complete prophylaxis protection against radioactive iodine isotopes. Your safest bet would be to work your way up in moderate steps. Doing so helps your gut adjust to the dietary and flora changes as well as helping you to monitor your overall well-being for any potential sensitivities for iodine itself.
Thanks for the info & the quick reply!
I tried e-mailing you with some additional information, Saskia, but it bounced. Please read the bolded UPDATE information at the bottom of the original article.
I have a liquid kelp called ocean wonder states 1/2 oz provides 163mcg. Does 60mg mean I need the equivlent to 60,000 mcg daily? Would this likely be the same for a liquid absorbable form? The total bottle contains 16 ounces.. meaning would need 368 bottles a day???? compared to the 1/2oz daily recommended dose? So glad to have a place to ask what is hopefully no accurate mathematics!!!?
Thanks for dropping by and asking your question. Unfortunately, the math doesn’t look hopeful for your supplement supplying all your needs. This is going to be a challenge for anybody. Ideally, KI tablets are the best solution here to ensure you get the right amount.
There are serious risks to long-term/large-dose use of iodine. Adults should avoid prolonged use of doses higher than 1100 mcg per day (the upper tolerable limit, UL) without proper medical supervision. In children, doses should not exceed 200 mcg per day for children 1 to 3 years old, 300 mcg per day for children 4 to 8 years old, 600 mcg per day for children 9 to 13 years old, and 900 mcg per day for adolescents. These are the upper tolerable limits (UL).
Now, obviously, things look different for use as a prophylactic in a radiation emergency. The problem of requiring medical supervision stands, though. If you’re taking in large amounts of iodine over the course of a month, you risk irreversible damage. So please, please take care. Self-medicating is always risky business.
My advice is to take the information I’ve provided and the questions you’ve posted to both a medical doctor and to a licensed pharmacist to determine your best course of action.
Thank you. I did find your email, I just switched to a new account & still automatically type in my old one from time to time. I have updated my email so you have the correct one now. Sorry about that. Too much time at the computer with all that is going on.
Thanks for your reply. I wanted to clarify my numbers with you so they wouldn’t confuse the research you’d been doing on your own. My numbers were all based on upper tolerable limits of ~1100 mcg/day. That’s a long way from 130 mg of KI!
You mentioned energy healing. Please email me so we can talk.
E-mail will be on its way shortly, Arnold.
This is interesting, but could you clarify what kelp is called here in Japan? Having the name so that I can ask for it would be helpful. I expect confused looks if I say the word “kelp”. Help.
Thanks for asking: kelp is called “kombu” here in Japan (pronounced comb-boo). The kanji for it is 昆布, so you know what to look for in the stores. This is something that is still in tremendous supply, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. You’ll often find it in the area of the store with the soup-making stuff.
If you have trouble, don’t hesitate to get back in touch!
So after more research, I believe I understand where the confusion is coming from. I would like to preface my explanation with the statement that I am not a health professional and I am not giving medical advice to anyone. My wish is to clarify our conversation about whether or not kelp could provide protection from the uptake of (unstable) radio-active iodine. Before explaining this it would be helpful to know that iodine is easily abosorbed by the tissues of the body and plays a role in thyroid function. Radio-active iodine is unstable and therefore can cause cellular changes that can lead to cancer if it is absorbed or inhaled.
It seems to me that both our numbers are correct! BUT they refer to two different aspects of medicine. The dose you are refering to (1100 mcg/day) reflects a maximum daily dose of iodine (containing potassium iodide) that could be used to safely treat hypothyroidism. This is a maximum dose of what would be needed to cause a theraputic level of iodine in the body of a person with an underactive thyroid without causing an overdose of iodine or potassium iodide which would result in iodine toxicity. This dose (1100 mcg/day) is also a maximum dose that is sometimes prescribed for someone taking a kelp or an iodine supplement who is not diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but may suffer from fatigue and weight gain and has concerns about their thyroid, either due to lifestyle (ie. lots of time in front of a computer) or a family history of under-active-thyroid. From what I have read, a person under these circumstances would only take the supplement for two weeks at a time with a minimum of two weeks off between treatments to avoid an overdose/toxicity of iodine or KI. It is important to understand that at this level, the thyroid could still absorb radioactive (unstable) iodine from the fall out of a nuclear reactor melt down.
The massive dose (130 mg of KI per 24 hours for an adult) that I wrote about came directly from the FDA’s website on bioterrorism and radiation emergency drug readiness as well as a chapter on bioterrorism in a 2007 pharmacology text book I have. In the case of a radiation emergency involving a nuclear reactor meltdown or a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant it would be necessary for an adult to take a massive dose (130 mg) of potassium iodide (KI) every 24 hours until radiation returns to safe levels. What does this massive dose do? My understanding is that since potassium iodide (KI) is a STABLE form of iodine it is used in a super high dose to saturate the thyroid gland in order to BLOCK its ability to abosorb the radio-active (UNSTABLE) iodine which is one of the cancer-causing chemicals released when a nuclear power plant mealts down. While there is a increased risk of developing cancer after a nuclear melt down, thyroid cancer is a large concern due to this gland’s need to absorb and use iodine in order to function, therefore making it a likely tissue to absorb radioactive iodine. This large dose of KI protects only the thyroid gland, but this is very important because damage or loss of the thyroid results in a shorter lifespan and many health complications for those that survive the cancer. In order to minimize the risk of iodine toxicity or damage to the thtroid, this massive dose is given only for as long as radiaiton levels are dangerous. My text book explained that this high dose could eventually damage the thyroid gland and cause hypothyroidism or cause iodine toxicity if taken for too long. In the event of a nuclear melt down, these risks are felt to be less of a danger than developing thyroid cancer.
Another fact that you touched on as well, is that in order to get tablets that come in the massive 65 mg dose (2 tablets for adults/ 1 tablet for children), the government must 1st declare a radiation emergency.
Having explained all that, I originally came to your website looking for how much KI is in powdered kelp in hopes that I could use this to help protect my family and our livestock if dangerous levels of radiation fallout makes it across the pacific to the west coast of the United States. Unfortunately I don’t believe we could consume enough kelp to reach the therapeutic level of KI if that happens. I have looked all over for information on whether or not taking at least some KI would be at all helpful in protecting us from thyroid cancer.The answer was not absolute, but my understanding is any exposure to radio-active iodine puts a person at risk. Despite this, I have decided that if a full melt-down occurs AND the high dose tablets are not released here, I will take the attitude that if it won’t hurt, it could help. I think we will take kelp at the dosage that would provide 1100 mcg/day of potassium iodide (KI) for a period of two weeks in the hopes of some protection without poisoining ourselves with an iodine overdose. I don’t know if this will provide us any protection or if I should even be concerned that harmful radiation will make it this far, but it might make me feel better to do something.
I am sorry this was such a long explanation, but while I was doing my research I found the same confusion all over the web as to whether or not the potassium iodide dose a person could get over the counter or from a kelp supplement was equivalent to the dose needed in the event of a radiation emergency. After doing all this research, I feel like we need to be better educated than we are. When an emergency occurs, I feel best when I know what I can do to help myself and others. It is my opinion that this information should be easily available to the public and not take hours of digging to figure out. I know that I personally may have nothing to worry about, but my heart goes out to all of you in Japan that are overwhelmed with the fear and grief brought on by this colossal tragedy.
I hope I was able to clarify any confusing information. Again I am not a health professional. The above explanation is NOT medical advice and I make NO claim as to the accuracy of the information I provided (but I did my best to research it carefully from valid resources). I encourage people to look at the FDA’s website I provided in one of my previous entries. It has some fantastic links including one to a copy of a report on Chernobyl. This report discussed how those closest to the plant that were given the large doses of KI did not show a rise in the incidence of thyroid cancer over a period of many years, but that people further away from the plant that were believed to be safe from the radiation fallout, did end up displaying an increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer over the same time period. Thank you again for the helpful information on kelp and for welcoming me to your site.
Thanks for your further clarification. I am in complete agreement with all of it.
It’s simply not possible to take in enough sea vegetables in any form to match the KI protocol defined for radiation emergencies. And, as you very rightly suggested, a 2-week on/2-week off regimen of 1100 mcg/day of iodine seems to be about the safest possible approach in lieu of being able to get KI tablets.
The bottom line is that those who can get KI tablets should do so, but ONLY use them in case of significant radiation exposure and should absolutely work with medical professionals to ensure their continued well-being.
Those of us who cannot get KI tablets should work with kelp in whatever form, bearing in mind the gastrointestinal issues of eating massive amounts of any one type of food and how prolonged intake can have contraindications. 50-60 grams/day of kelp for 2 weeks and then 2 weeks off is good during periods of uncertainty. In a situation of significant radiation exposure, one would probably be able to take in as much kelp as possible for a time to help offset the absorption of unstable iodine.
With all this, there are no guarantees, of course. Obviously, the best protection is absence. Second to that, however, is the reality that the situation in Japan is highly unlikely to become another Chernobyl. Radiation emissions are likely to be mostly localized and anything arriving in North America is very likely to be widely dispersed and, therefore, of minimal risk.
Most people would do better to quit smoking than to worry about radiation sickness.
Ooo. Sorry, please forgive me for the typos and poor grammar that made it into that last super long post. It didn’t look that long until I posted it, yikes!
Thanks so much for this info! I’ve been scouring the web and asking all my friends what they know about potassium iodine, kelp, and the use of it in case of emergency. It’s so frustrating that this info isn’t easier to obtain. Thanks Trane and Saskia! I finally understand this better.
Trane be well! I will be thinking of you and your family in Japan. I’m sending your country as much pink light as I can.
I love your nutritional / sea vegetable approach to ingesting iodine.
Stay safe everybody!
Thank you so much for the kind words, Betty. It means a lot to me. If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m delighted to help in any way I can.
Thanks for coming up with these figures and leading the conversation, Trane. I am not a doctor either, but I am a medical marijuana grower/patient (here in Oregon, it’s legal) so I do have some skills as a street herbalist. I think it is a mistake to compare the iodine contained in kelp gram for gram to KI. The mistake is that you are not counting the weight of the potassium (the K) in the KI. K has an atomic weight of 39.1, and I has an atomic weight of 126.9. If I remember my high school chemistry correctly, 1 mole of KI should have 39.1 grams of Potassium and 126.9 grams of Iodine. Therefore, a 130 mg dose of KI has about 99 mg of Iodine in it.
I weighed out 60 grams of organic kelp meal I picked up at the horticulture store today. (FYI: 20 pounds for $25). It measured out to about 1/3 of a cup. Therefore, I figure 2 tablespoons 3 times a day is the “safe” dose of 1100 mcg/day. This is of course trying to balance risks on both sides, but I think its the most sensible course. My wife is pregnant, and for her I went out and found a new prenatal vitamin that included Iodine so I knew that it would be a pregnancy safe dose, much lower, but still present at 150 mcg. The risk equation changes every day.
Check out this article on a low iodine diet as preparation for a cancer treatment: http://www.thyca.org/rai.htm. The need for a low iodine diet to ensure complete absorption logically suggests that even low levels of iodine in the body can have blocking effects, so bring on the miso soup!
Even if the radioactive fallout does cause widespread cancer, there is hope! Studies have shown that marijuana works wonders and can kill cancer cells. Don’t give into the fear and think that if you inhale one particle of radioactive dust it is a death sentence. There is always hope. Google “Rick Simpson” and check it out.
I just though of a weird symbolic synchronicity: KI & ki. We might not have KI to use (I gave mine away to some people headed over there), but we can still accomplish much with the ki we do have at our disposal. I’ll be sending as much ki energy I can muster Japan’s way.
Excellent post, Johnny. Thanks for adding to the information here. I need all the help I can get! 🙂
Funny how you connected KI with 気 (ki). I did exactly the same thing. I’ve worked in energy healing for some 20 years and martial arts for just as long. The world of ki is no stranger at all. 🙂
I am currently on my boat in the Sea of Cortez, so in direct line of fire from the radiation plume. Whilst I am not that worried I feel that I should take precautions.
I have 1 lb bag of kelp powder.
How many teaspoons should I take a day during this time?
I have lived in Japan for nearly two decades and am returning to Nagoya at the end of the month for another year of teaching. But for now I bob on my boat in the bay trying to figure out how much kelp to take.
I see that you found your dosage answer elsewhere in the page. 🙂 What I’d like to offer is that being in the Gulf of Cortez likely does not put you at any risk. Unless something extremely dramatic happens here, e.g., complete meltdown of 4 or more reactors and subsequent explosions, people over on the coast of Mexico, US and Canada are unlikely to be exposed to any significant amounts of radiation.
Be aware, too, that there are contraindications for long-term use of kelp at amounts equivalent to 1100 mcg/day. We need iodine, but not that much of it. If we get too much for too long, we can do considerable damage.
Apologies for asking the above question . I see it has been answered in another comment.
Thanks for all the input.
No reason to apologize, Maria. Be safe and enjoy your bobbing around.
Hi – I just ordered some organic kelp powder online. I need to know how much is safe to give to my 21 pound toddler age 21 months and how much is safe for me. I would like to know for both during possible radiation exposure and during normal times. Thanks, I can’t find any info on this. Jennifer
You should not ingest more than 1100 mcg/day, and your toddler should not have more than 200 mcg/day. 20 grams of kelp contains 415 mcg of iodine. You’ll need to use a microscale to weigh out the appropriate amounts. This is only for a radiation emergency, not for supplementation. Basically, you can do 50 g and your baby can do 9 grams/day. Understand that long-term use at this dosage presents health risks.
I do not at all recommend giving toddlers kelp supplements, and I consider iodine supplementation to be wholly unnecessary for the general public. As long as you enjoy a well-balanced diet of whole, natural, unprocessed foods and use natural sea- or rock salts, you’ll get enough iodine. Iodine deficiencies are almost always a symptom of unbalanced diet. It’s always better to approach well-being from diet and lifestyle first and supplementation as a last resort.
I feel compelled to reiterate here that it’s highly unlikely that there is any health risk whatsoever to people in the US or Canada as a result of the situation in Japan right now. You put yourself at far greater risk of health problems by taking in excessive amounts of iodine.
Thank you. So I am I correct that the powder would be the easiest form to give to a toddler? If so, then it looks like I need to find one of these scales.
I think it would be useful to have this kelp around in case of any nuclear emergency that might happen in the future, though I don’t know what the shelf life is like for kelp powder.
Yes, I’d agree that kelp powder is the easiest to give. For one thing, it doesn’t taste bad, so it can be added directly to food and eaten with the meal. Generally speaking, though, one really doesn’t need to worry about nuclear emergencies. It never hurts to be prepared, of course, but only as long as there’s no worrying alongside that preparedness.
so to clarify,
Kelp tablets, if risk of exposure is imminent
I’m confused by the different #s posted in different response
The confusion is understandable because two entirely different approaches have been discussed. In one scenario, one is taking massive doses of potassium iodide to flood the thyroid immediately. In the other scenario, one is ramping up over the course of days to reach saturation.
In your case, you’re working with kelp, which is going to be the “ramp up” approach. Which is fine, since you have plenty of warning. As written in the update above: Adults should avoid prolonged use of doses higher than 1100 mcg per day (the upper tolerable limit, UL) without proper medical supervision. In children, doses should not exceed 200 mcg per day for children 1 to 3 years old, 300 mcg per day for children 4 to 8 years old, 600 mcg per day for children 9 to 13 years old, and 900 mcg per day for adolescents. These are the upper tolerable limits (UL).
Ultimately, you should work closely with a qualified medical professional in ANY protocol working with these levels (or higher) of iodine intake. Seriously. Don’t think just because kelp is natural that you can’t injure yourself. Take all due care!
Also, it’s worth mentioning yet again that people in North America have virtually no health risk whatsoever from the happenings at the plant in Fukushima. Even in Japan, those of us outside an 80km/50mi radius are unlikely to have significant health concerns.
Hi I have 525mg kelp capsules and I don’t know if this is a safe dose to give my 6 and 8 year olds. I also have iodine drops 225mcg per ml. Are either of these safe for my children?? Thanks for any info!
As stated in the article, children 4-8 should not take dosages higher than 300 mcg/day. 525 mg of kelp will contain ~10.9 mcg of iodine. Your children would reach upper tolerable limits at 27 capsules/day. They would be able to take 1.3 ml of the drops/day. It’s important to understand that 300 mcg/day is a level that is liable to cause permanent thyroid damage if taken for two weeks or longer. As such, I highly recommend you work with a qualified medical professional in preparing any iodine-related protocol. Your children’s lives depend on it.
People on the west coast of Canada and the U.S. are in no danger of poisoning from a radioactive plume from Japan. And even if a plume were to pass overhead, you would be able to protect against any health hazards by simply staying indoors while the plume passed overhead.
Prophylaxis against radiation from Japan is not at all necessary for people in North America. Period.
Thank you very much for the info, I don’t think I will be giving my kids this at this time. Thanks again.
Thanks to all of you for helping me with my kelp dosages. I live in the Pacific Northwest and plan to add kelp to my diet while saving some for an emergency dose. Kelp has been off the shelves around here, as well as KI tabs. I was lucky to have a bit stored away! I am sending out huge daily doses of love for all people on our beautiful planet. Namaste’
Thanks for the clear, concise information. It is a miracle we have a new network of information on this, but it is so offensive to see MSNBC (aka GE) report on this as though, like the tsunami, the nuclear threat has come and gone.
I have a question – I found kelp thyroid support tablets, .05mg….how many of these tablets should I take per day? I am in Los Angeles, and want my system to be prepared.
Hi, Mike. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂
Being in L.A., you don’t need prophylactic iodine in any form and I don’t recommend any sort of protocol whatsoever. Even in a “reasonable worst case” scenario of a complete meltdown and fire in one reactor in Fukushima, residents of Canada and North America are unlikely to see contamination significant enough to present a health hazard. Yes, I realize that you’re “down wind” of us, but the bottom line is that you’re ~5,000 mi. away. Any material released here has a lot of area, most of it being ocean, upon which to disperse. Whatever amounts that actually make it to your neck of the woods will be small enough so as to not be of real concern.
As I wrote in the blog today: If you had been at ground zero during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki or Hiroshima, you’d experience a 4% greater chance of dying of lung cancer. If you smoked a pack of butts/day for 20 years, your chances of dying of lung cancer would be ~400% greater. Being some 5,000 miles away, you’d be able to measure your risk in hundredths or even thousandths of a percent. In other words, so low as to be statistical noise.
The information in the blog here is really only relevant for people here in Japan, especially those within a 150-mile radius of ground zero. Sorry for the good news. 😉
Thanks Trane, I appreciate it. I’m getting into reiki, and for what it’s worth, I’m thinking of Japan every day.
Hiya. 🙂 A regular reiki practice is a great adjunct to good dietary and lifestyle choices. Have regular sessions on yourself in a form of “opening up” meditation. That’ll just entirely change your connection to the world around you.
Thanks for the kind thoughts. With over 28,000 dead or missing, it’s a tough slog for the folks in the northern prefectures.
Hi, thanks for the great information. I am living in Japan right now. So looks like people in the U.S. is worried about radiation more than us. It is because our government does not tell us the truth. They keep saying that no harm for humans (for now).
I asked my American friend to get Pottasium Iodine but she said they are all gone.
I will take kelp supplement instead, hope it works:)
If you’re within ~200 km of the reactors, it’s probably a good idea to take at least some kelp. If you’re taking in amounts of iodine close to 1100 mcg/day, please be careful and remember that you shouldn’t take that dosage for more than two weeks at a time. A regimen of two weeks on and two weeks off is probably safe.
Currently, things don’t look too bad, but the weather patters will be changing with the rainy season, so it’s a good idea to stay aware of that and how any radiation may disperse. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Hi, thanks for your reply. Actually, I am about 500km away from the nuclear plant.
I have a kelp tablet that contains 235mcg of Iodine per tablet. I am worried
about overdosing so I just take one tablet a day for now.
I have eight-year-old daughter and 64-year-old mom, and I have them take
one tablet a day too. Do you think I should take more than one tablet?
They say that nuclear trouble will last at least for several more months, and radiactive materials keeps going out of the plant.
to make things worse, they said that they dumped radioactive water to the ocean…. it is really terrible and sad.
Being 500 km away from the plant should have you in a good position to avoid most contaminants. This is especially the case for people who are farther west, e.g., Nagano. Due to the prevailing westerlies, any contaminants from Fukushima that make it west to Nagano and area will be small, localized amounts. It’s unlikely that the southwestern areas of Japan will see significant fallout.
The radiation being carried by ocean currents is a significant concern for people all down the coast as far as Chiba prefecture. Because of the Kuroshio Current, however, it’s unlikely that much – if any – radiation will be carried south of Choshi, Chiba Prefecture. The Kuroshio Current and the Kuroshio Extension follow a primarily northeast path.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think you or your family need to take the kelp tablets. One tablet for you and your mom is not a burden, but that amount of iodine is over 1/3 the upper tolerable limit for an 8-year-old. As such, you’ll want to give some time off, e.g., 2 weeks on/1 week off, to ensure you don’t over burden the system.
Thank you very much for your quick reply.
I am 500km south of the nuclear plant. Some people were saying
that cecium is very light so it can travel like 1,500km if the wind is
4 meter/second. It means if the wind blows to south, it will reach
my area (Tokai area), even to Kyushu!
Maybe I am just being paranoid?
What do you think if I give my 8-year old girl half a tablet?
Thanks again for your great advice!!:)
Cesium-137 is slightly heavier than Iodine-131. The numbers in the names refer to their atomic weight. The higher the number, the heavier the element. Because of the similar weight to Iodine-131, Cesium-137 can travel similar distances. There are some differences between the two, however, in that iodine preferentially binds to water and cesium seems to preferentially bind to soil, paint, etc. What this means is that although a wind might be blowing some vented steam or whatever from the power plant, the iodine will attach to water molecules in the atmosphere and travel easily a long way. Cesium, on the other hand, will tend to bind to heavier particles in the atmosphere because of its preferential binding and, therefore, tend to not travel quite so far.
If we look back to the Chernobyl disaster, most of the material that found its way to various European countries was iodine-131, but the area close to the reactor was heavily irradiated with Cesium-137.
So, try not to worry too much about Cesium-137. Yes, it is a serious concern, but being 500 km away from the reactor means that you’re not likely to have much of it come to your area.
I think it’s fine to give your daughter a half-tablet daily.
Thank you very much for your advice. How do you know so much about all this??
I guess I just need to be careful what we eat… Like we have to pay attention to area of production of food.
I started giving my daughter half of the Kelp tablet. Thank you.
P.S. I am really sad that TEPCO had to dump radioactive water to the ocean. This means
fish and living things in the sea get affected by radioactive materials…. And fish does not stay in one place so it means all the fish in the ocean is not safe to eat.
As a Japanese, I feel deeply sorry for what they did, and I wish they had told us what they were going to do so we could have stopped them. Too late now though.
I have learned as much as I can about all of this stuff because I feel that offering correct information to my site’s readers is very important. I offer health coaching and alternative healing (Quantum-Touch, QiGong (気功)) services, so having a broad spectrum of information available to me is vital.
I share your concern for the radiation in the ocean. Some fish, e.g., tuna, travel long distances, with some of them going all the way to the U.S. It’s a big problem for the environment to have fish exposed to such high levels of radiation. The cesium in the water should be mostly localized, however, so I’m hopeful that it won’t pose a long-term problem for the international fish supplies. Unfortunately, it could present a significant problem for local fisherman for many years. We shall see.
I don’t think TEPCO really had much of a choice about the seawater. It’s a sad situation that will probably carry on for a long, long time to come.
Love, Light and Laughter,
Hi, how have you been?
They said that they found strontium 89 & 90 near the nuke plant. It seems like
strontium is very bad for human bodies. Is there anything I can take to prevent
it to be absorbed to a body?
How about Cesium?
I have been taking Kelp tablets but they only work for Iodine, right?
This whole nuclear thing is getting worse and worse.
Things are pretty much normal for us here in Tokyo, although I am beginning to see shortages in certain foods, e.g., yogourt, that would come from the northern prefectures.
Strontium can be rather unpleasant. Strontium-90, especially, acts much like calcium in the body and, therefore, tends to find its way into bone. Because of its relatively long half-life, it remains in the body for a very long time. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s extremely little risk of strontium being distributed in significant amounts.
We already have exposure to strontium-90 due to the nuclear weapons testing in the ’50s and ’60s. In those days, a number of high-altitude nuclear detonations took place, which spread radioactive materials around the world via the jet streams. I sincerely doubt that any site farther than ~100 km away from the reactors will see significant fallout. As long as TEPCO can keep any further explosions from happening, most of the contamination will remain very close to the reactors.
The situation with the ocean contamination is disheartening. I suspect it will be a long time before they really understand the significance of the situation.
I just realized that I didn’t answer your questions.
1) Strontium: There is anecdotal information that suggests that since strontium-90 behaves like calcium in the body, one could take calcium supplements to help prevent the strontium from settling into bone. On the surface, it seems to make sense, but I’m uncertain of whether there is a “saturation point” for calcium as there is for thyroid iodine. Be aware that too much calcium can be dangerous. The tolerable upper limit (UL) of calcium for adults between the ages of 18 and 50 is 2,500 mg per day, and for those over 50, the TUL is 2,000 mg. The TUL for children between the ages of 9 and 18 is 3,000 mg per day. It’s important to note that this is the total calcium intake from all sources, not just from supplements.
2) Cesium: To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing that can be taken to protect from cesium.
Since you’re quite far from Fukushima, I doubt that you are in a position to require any type of prophylaxis, whether it be iodine or calcium. If there are significant explosions in Fukushima, that might change, but I still think that most of the risk will remain within an 80-km radius of the reactors.
Try to not worry. 🙂
In the first entry on this page you write:
“On average, 20 grams of kelp contain 415 mcg of iodine. For adults 18-40 (or adolescents reaching a weight of ~70 kg), 50-60 grams of kelp/day should act as a reasonable prophylactic protocol. Children need approximately half that amount.”
Please verify and rectify your info on the iodine content of kelp, which which scientific papers list as containing, on average, between 1500 and 2500 mcg of iodine per gram.
Thanks for your comment and concern. The amount of iodine in sea vegetables varies widely. Some sea vegetables, such as “nori” seaweed can have as much as 8,000 mcg of iodine/gram. Some kelp species have been found to have as little as 16 mcg of iodine/gram, so your scientific papers are quite likely looking at one specific species of kelp grown in a specific geographical area. When you look at the broader picture, you need to deal with averages.
I’ll stick with the numbers I’ve come up with, but readers should be encouraged, as always, to do their own research to ensure they’re satisfied with the information as presented.
Sorry for the abruptness of my last (and first) comment. I was just in a hurry to get what I consider important info to you. I understand how important it is for you to protect yourself and your family and thank you for sharing your experience with others, but would hate for anyone to have problems from too much iodine, which is a real concern. Info on iodine content of kelp and reasons to avoid overdoing it can be found here:
Thanks for the link. I encourage everybody to check out what’s there. There are some excellent resources on the ‘net regarding the risks of overdoing iodine intake, and the risk is not to be taken lightly. For this reason, I strongly encourage people to be very careful when approaching tolerable upper limits (UL). Especially because the amount of naturally occurring iodine in sea vegetables is so exceptionally variable, a two-week on/two-week off cycle is crucial to ensuring the thyroid is not overloaded and damaged.
It’s important for us to always take full responsibility for our well-being. That means also taking adequate precautions.
Cheers, David. Thanks again for the link.
I have read this entire thread, but didn’t see information on the type of kelp supplement I purchased about two weeks ago, so I thought I should ask about it.
I have the Icelandic Kelp supplement by “Nature’s Life” :
225mcg Iodine (as Kelp)
41mg Kelp (Laminaria Digitata)
The bottle directions say to take one tablet per day; which my husband and I have been doing since purchasing.
Like many people, several questions come to mind:
Will taking one of these daily pose any significant risks? I know in previous posts there was mention of there being potential risks, but those risks were related to the UL (upper limits) only, correct? I’m assuming that taking one tablet daily should be fine. I’m also wondering about how much I should give my 13 year old who is 104 lbs. if the need should arise? From what I’ve understood from the article above, no more than 600 mcg per day (or two tablets = 450 mcg per day). Also, if the need should ever arise that we ‘need’ to increase our dosage due to an emergency situation, what would be the recommended daily dosage? I’m guessing 4 tablets at 900 mcg, but I just want to be sure.
Thank you for answering questions on this, and thanks to those who have shared information, it is greatly appreciated. 🙂
You have a good understanding of things, no doubt. Your supplement at 225 mcg/tablet is perfectly safe for you to take one/day indefinitely. I would suggest 1/2 tablet/day for your child as a reasonable supplement. That is well below the tolerable upper limit and, therefore, should not pose any threat to the thyroid at all.
In an emergency situation, you are, of course, best off to take potassium iodide tablets in accordance with the recommendations of health professionals and government in your area. In lieu of that, however, your 4 tabs @ 900 mcg/day seems reasonable. Half of that dose for your 13-year-old. Because of how close this would be to tolerable upper limits, it’s advisable to have a regimen that involves 2 weeks on/2 weeks off. Two weeks of no iodine supplementation ensures the thyroid has a chance to recover its equilibrium.
As always, I strongly recommend working with licensed medical professionals whenever taking doses that near tolerable upper limits. Failure to do so puts you at risk of permanent thyroid damage. Working with a qualified medical practitioner ensures that any contraindications due to other, unknown health issues are caught ahead of time and adjusted for accordingly.
Be healthy. 🙂
Thank you Trane! 🙂
Your feedback and knowledge are greatly appreciated! God be with you, yours and all of Japan . . . the world loves and prays for you all. If I am lucky, I will one day get to visit; which is something I have always wanted to do. : )
I was wondering if you have seen the youtube video by Leuren Moret (geo scientist) about this disaster and the effects on global food supply?
My understanding is that North Americans are relatively iodine defficient and there are cultures which consume a lot more iodine without health problems.
The kelp tablets I purchased have 50-150 mcg per tablet. Can I give my 2.5 yo one tablet per day and my 12 yo , 2 tablets per day? Can I do this for an extended period of time? Do you think kelp is a good supplement to have overall?
God Bless you and your family.
Love from Ottawa, Canada
I saw that YouTube video in which it was postulated that the current crisis is actually a nuclear war against North America. To be completely blunt, the idea has no credibility whatsoever and the ignorance and irresponsibility these people spreading such fear, uncertainty and doubt is appalling. There’s a lot of scaremongering going on among the conspiracy types right now. As such, it’s really important for you to base your decisions on facts. Getting your information from credible, independent third parties such as Greenpeace and the IAEA will give you a clear picture of what’s happening here with regard to the radiation. I don’t want to say the situation bears no risk whatsoever, but for people in North America, the risks are – literally – so small as to be inconsequential.
The severity of Fukushima has caused the nuclear watchdog here to raise its disaster rating from a 5 (equivalent to Three Mile Island) to a 7, which was the same rating as Chernobyl. It’s important to bear in mind that this equivalency of rating does not mean the disaster is of equal scope. Chernobyl released a good 10 times the amount of radiation compared to that of Fukushima. So, yes, it’s not a good situation, but the effects will be mostly localized.
So, on to your iodine questions: You do not need to take iodine as a means of protecting against radiation. You’re exposed to more naturally occurring radiation from the Canadian Shield and residual fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the ’50s and ’60s than you will ever need to worry about from Fukushima. What that means is that you should only supplement in terms of normal diet.
The RDA for iodine is 150mcg for an adult. That means that you should only take one tablet a day for yourself. Your 12-year-old could maybe do with a half-tablet and your toddler should have no supplementation whatsoever. Make sure to avoid processed foods, as processing tends to remove naturally-occurring iodine. Use natural sea salt or rock salt for cooking/seasoning and eat plenty of raw veggies. Eggs and meat are also excellent natural sources of stable iodine.
Above all, don’t fall for scare tactics and create stress for yourself where none is warranted. The situation is serious here in Japan, especially for those within a 100km radius of the reactors. For you folks in North America, the situation is of minimal risk. Radiation is never a good thing, but with 1 out of every 5 North Americans dying of some sort of cancer anyway, it isn’t even newsworthy. There simply won’t be any statistical significance.
This is the best site that I have found for info on sea kelp dosage. I ordered some sea kelp that is a mixture of 60%digitata (kombu) , 25% alaria, and 15% kelp. I would like to know how much of this mixture would be safe for me to eat everyday for a hypothyroid. I do have a goiter. I am trying to get my thyroid straighten out just in case a radioactive problem arises.
I do realize you are not a doctor but you definitely know more than I do. I would like to try a natural approach to getting my thyroid back to normal. My doctors say my test are normal but yet I have a goiter, fatigue, and weight gain. I feel like if someone already has problems with their thyroid; when something does happen they may have a hard time trying to ward off all that radiation. I have been taking about half a teaspoon daily. But I have not seen much of a change in my health. Any advice you or others can give would be helpful.
You’re right that I’m not a doctor, so please take any and all the advice I offer here to a qualified medical professional and see whether they agree.
One of the more significant aspects of hypothyroidism is that the body becomes more generally exposed to estrogen. This is complicated by the problem of so-called “vegetable oils”, which tend to be very high in soy content. Soy is extremely high in something called phytoestrogen, which is plant-based estrogen. Phytoestrogens are abundant in our modern-day food culture and it’s almost impossible to eat at a restaurant without being inundated by these plant-based hormones.
Phytoestrogens bind the same way as human estrogen in the body, but they don’t behave the same way at all. It causes all sorts of grief for us. When you have hypothyroidism and goiter, the problems are compounded. My advice is actually going to address oils to use in cooking that has been shown to have a significant affect on thyroid function rather than worrying about playing with your iodine levels. The idea is to address possible causes of thyroid misbehaviour such that you’ll respond properly to normal iodine supplementation.
The bottom line here is that you’ll want to avoid oils such as soybean, canola, cottonseed, etc. My recommendation is to exclusively cook with extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil and butter (from free-range, organically fed cows).
Due to your thyroid issue, you’re likely also having difficulty maintaining healthful weight. You’re likely to find that a switch to Omega-3-rich cooking oils will improve your thyroid function, enabling normal iodine supplementation to help you within normal bounds, and your weight would quickly begin to normalize.
You can assist in this process greatly by reducing carbohydrate intake through cutting out grains and sugars, including fruit juices. Stick to home-cooked meals featuring animal proteins, whole vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts.
This is a great opportunity for you! I’d be happy to coach you on your way to complete well-being.
I should also note that if you’re eating tofu or drinking soy-based products, they should be avoided at all costs. Soy is by no means a health food and pretty much the only way to eat it that isn’t harmful is as natto or miso, in my humble opinion.
It has been my practice to add kombu to rice when soak & I cook it. (more vigilant since 3/11 we live Kawasaki, 20 kms SW of Tokyo) I also put kombu in shoyu & tsuyu bottles and make miso soup from dashi kombu not instant. Do you know if you have to eat the kombu or does soaking leach enough iodine into fluid? I ask because my teenage girls hate the sliminess and refuse to eat it.
Hi, Karen. Soaking kombu will net some of the results, but eating it gets the most results. Soaking is fine, but be careful of the shoyu; most soy sauce in Japan is manufactured without fermentation, and it’s the fermentation that makes it healthful for you. You can tell whether shoyu has been fermented by the the lack of wheat in the ingredients. If wheat is listed, the shoyu has not been fermented.
How Long Does It Take For The Supplement to take affect?
Hi, Frieda. With full-dosage KI tablets (130 mg), it takes about 48 hours for the thyroid to reach saturation, but because initial uptake is extremely fast, some protection is evident even taking a KI dose 8 hours after exposure to radioactive isotopes. For supplements, such as powdered kombu, the situation is similar, but it’s difficult to get the thyroid near saturation levels. As well, sea vegetables are full of other minerals and elements, such as salt, that can have detrimental effects at very high dosages.
Generally, it’s safer and more effective to use KI tablets at a single dose under the care of a physician. Trying to self-medicate will net uncertain results with the potential for unwanted (and unknown) side effects. And most certainly, unless there is a nuclear emergency happening in the U.S. of which I’m unaware, there’s absolutely no need to concern yourself with protection against radioactive iodine. Things in Fukushima still have a risk of getting worse, but the situation has been quite stable.
Fear not. 🙂
How much sodium is in 1/2 teaspoon kelp powder?
Thanks for a good question. Unfortunately, the question is a little more complex to answer than might appear at first glance. A teaspoon is a measure of volume where the content of sodium can only be based on a weight measure. The amount of kelp powder contained in a teaspoon is dependent upon the fineness of the grind.
The only reliable measure for you would be to get access to a microscale and weigh the amount of kelp you wish to ingest. The amount of sodium (and, indeed, any mineral or nutrient) varies greatly with the geographic source and type of kelp. Unfortunately, this means that unless you have a lab actually test a sample of the kelp powder you’re taking, there’s no exact numbers to be had. A decent average number to base on is ~45 mg of sodium per gram of whole-leaf kelp.
I wish I could be more precise, but I hope this helps.
Thank you. Just wanted an idea about how much. No wonder I was having a hard time finding out. Makes sense now.
Please contact me via my email address regarding my past post. Thank you very much.
I have bought powder Kelp from Canada. Also I normaly use see salt in my food. Would you say taht half a teaspoon daily is to much to have? Sory for may writing my mother language is not english. Thanks to you anyway.
Thanks for writing. Your English is just fine! 🙂
Half-a-teaspoon daily is an excellent amount of kelp powder to take as a supplement and should not be harmful over the long term. If you have any doubt as to whether you’re getting the correct amount of iodine in your diet and supplementation, you should arrange to have your iodine levels checked by your family physician.
Using sea salt in your food is great. Sea salt contains many essential trace minerals that are not available from common “table salt”. The amount of kelp powder that you’re taking in addition to sea salt should not be a problem.
Thanks to you Trane for your answer. I feel a lot more confortable now.
Highly recommend everyone to read this letter to Dr Mercola by Dr. Gabriel Cousins – MD., ND. He addresses the schizophrenia about high dosages of iodine….
Thanks for the link. I suspect that users will not be taken directly to the article (I wasn’t), but may have to search the blog for it. I used this set of keywords: Iodine — Open Letter to Dr. Mercola.