Please Pass the Iodine: ways to protect ourselves and our children from the nuclear fall-out coming from Japan

No one is sure what the death toll in Japan will be from the massive earthquake that struck on Friday, creating a tsunami that then slammed into Japan’s north coast, but it has been estimated that more than 10,000 people may have died, just in the Miyagi Province.

Then there’s the problem of Japan’s nuclear power plants. There have already been two hydrogen explosions at one plant and there are fears that a second plant may be facing a nuclear meltdown.

When these nuclear power plants malfunction they can dump radiation into the atmosphere. It’s for this reason that Japan has evacuated almost 200,000 inhabitants living near the plants.

Radiation poisoning can cause instant damage to the human body, including organ malfunction and massive skin burns. Radiation exposure over a longer period can cause cancer, genetic damage, and tumors.

Radiation poisoning is not patriotic. Radiation doesn’t respect international borders and if the fall-out from the Japanese nuclear malfunctions begins to spread, those of us living on the West Coast–especially–have a good reason to be worried.

Short of living for the next few years in an underground bunker, how can we protect ourselves? How can we protect our children?

Since people are exposed to radiation through sunlight, cancer treatment, and medical/dental interventions, there have actually been a good deal of scientific studies on using nutritional supplements to boost the immune system and ward off the ill-effects of radiation.

There are literally thousands of articles about this on the Internet.

I’m not sure, honestly, what or who to believe. But I do know that the healthier our children eat, the less likely they are to succumb to disease. A healthy body is a body that can better fight being poisoned. So here are some suggestions to help combat the toxic exposure we might be facing in the next few days and over the coming months from Japan:

1) Eat brown rice: whole grains, especially brown rice, are high in fiber and phosphorous, which help remove harmful toxins from the body.

2) Eat seaweed, kelp, and other sea vegetables: Canadian researchers have reported that sea vegetables contain a polysaccharide that selectively binds radioactive strontium to help eliminate it from the body. According to this account, “In laboratory experiments, sodium alginate prepared from kelp, kombu, and other brown seaweeds off the Atlantic and pacific coasts was introduced along with strontium and calcium into rats. The reduction of radioactive particles in bone uptake, measured in the femur, reached as high as 80%, with little interference with calcium absorption.”

3) Eat miso soup: In 1945 when Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D., Director of Internal Medicine at a hospital in Nagasaki, had his staff eat a diet of brown rice, miso soup, seaweed, and pumpkin, and prohibited them from eating any sugar or sweets, his staff and patients were much healthier and did not succumb to radiation sickness.

4) Stop eating sugar or sweets of any kind: You’ve known forever that sugar, especially refined sugar and corn syrups, are harmful for you and your children. With this crisis in Japan it is a good time to go cold turkey and stop the sweets, which is another of Akizuki’s recommendations.

5) Consider iodine supplements: This might be the most important thing you can do in the longterm but I put it last on the list because I think whole food intervention should be our first defense and because I worry about the quality of supplements. Still, we want to make sure our thyroids don’t absorb radioactive thyroid. To do this, we must have adequate iodine levels in our bodies, but we also need to be careful not to take too much iodine and be aware that iodine is secreted into breast milk.

For further reading:
Technology’s Curse: Diet for the Atomic Age by Sara Shannon
Suggestions from James Jordan, an Ashland nutritionist
Site that reports atmospheric radioactivity in the United States
Information from the CDC on radiation emergencies
MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub

Are you worried about the nuclear fall-out from Japan? What steps are you taking to protect yourself and your family?

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31 thoughts on “Please Pass the Iodine: ways to protect ourselves and our children from the nuclear fall-out coming from Japan”

  1. I am worried for my grandkids in Los Angeles. I was in France, during Chernobyl. The various television stations of the different European countries did not report the same information about the nuclear cloud. France maintained it went around France. Now I know better. Many people in the cloud’s path, including me, have to take thyroid supplements. This is no joke. I remember reporters talking about the milk, mushrooms, and green beans as not being good for you for months after passage of the nuclear cloud and rain. Thanks for this post. I was wondering about the iodine myself and whether I should suggest it to my son. What dose should a child take? Thanks for the other options, too. I do not believe the reports coming out of Japan so far for one minute. I think there is danger of radiation exposure. This time I hope there will be serious reporting on where weather patterns are carrying the radiation.

  2. Scary stuff. I think it is time to pull the kombu from the bottom of the pantry and the iodine from the back of the medicine cabinet. Thank you for this very useful post. I’m getting right on it.

  3. Thanks for this post, Jennifer. Preparing our bodies ahead of time to deal with possible radiation contamination makes good sense. I’ve never even tasted seaweed but think it’s about time that I did. Valuable post, especially for parents.

  4. I have been wondering too about this affects the rest of it. It’s released into the atmosphere and I don’t believe it has no effect on those of us elsewhere. Great tips!

  5. [email protected] Food. Stories. says:

    Brown rice sushi for dinner?? I already take an iodine supplement for my thyroid, but I’ll have to start modifying my diet, too. I recently read that Vitamin C and chlorophyll (think: wheat grass) are excellent additions to the diet when there’s a threat of radiation poisoning, too.

  6. Though I can’t go cold turkey on sweets, I can definitely munch on more brown rice and seaweed. Veggie sushi might be a once-a-week “supplement” from now on.

  7. I’m with Casey. My kids are already veggie sushi fans. I’m wondering about the other commentators point about wheat grass. It’s so easy to grow (and to store)–we grind the wheat at our house but maybe growing some of the grass and using it in salads or such might be a good idea?

  8. Glad I’m not the only one who can’t detach from sugar. Happy to hear my miso, brown rice, and oatmeal habits are worthy, though. Good, sensible, helpful post, Jennifer.

  9. I haven’t been able to find much info on iodine dosing for kids (I’m in San Jose, so this is a priority), so hubs and I are thinking we’ll let their bodies decide. Paint a drop of good-quality liquid iodine (we bought Lugol’s) on their skin & let their bodies absorb what they need.

    Good luck finding iodine supplements, right now, though! When I ordered ours yesterday, my usual go-to places for supplements were OUT, oUT, OUT–and, in many cases, they were saying that not only were they out of stock, the _manufacturer was out.

  10. I have a question about the iodine. I just ordered potassium iodide-worst case scenario. I live in CA and I am worried about a huge quake here and possible meltdowns here never mind Japan. I know I may seem a little extreme to have done that but I would rather be thought of as a nut than let anything happen to my son.

    My question is what is the difference between what I ordered and iodine supplements? Can the iodine supplements be taken everyday as a precaution? The stuff I ordered is only in an emergency and the government says we are in trouble.

    Thank you for any help!


  11. Kim,

    Here is the answer from my husband:

    Potassium iodide is one form of iodine that you can take, yes. The point is that you need iodine, so if there is radioactive iodine around, your body will take it in just like regular iodine, but then you will be stuck with some radioactive iodine in your system that you can’t get rid of (until it decays over the course of months while giving off ionizing radiation in your system).

    To prevent this you just make sure your body has as much regular iodine as it can use already, then it won’t take up more. You just have to be careful to get enough but not overwhelm your body, because too much regular iodine can be harmful. The emergency pills of potassium iodide are to take immediately when you know there is exposure to radioactive material, so they top you right up with plenty of iodine.

    The potassium is there to protect you in the same way from taking up radioactive Cesium, which the body accepts as if it were potassium.

    Of course, you can simply make sure that you all get the recommended daily allowance of iodine and potassium every day through your diet, and that will provide ongoing protection for as long as you stick to it.

    The 2011 recommendations for iodine daily intake from the Linus Pauling Institute are 110 micrograms (millionth of a gram) per day for 0-6 months of age, 130 for 7-12 months, 90 for ages 1-8 years, 120 for 9-13, 150 for everyone over 13, 220 for pregnancy, and 290 when nursing.

    Don’t take the emergency pills every day, because they’re probably 50 or 100 milligrams (thousandth of a gram), so they’re 1,000 times the daily allowance! For foods, iodine is in healthy fish, potatoes, milk, eggs, beans, turkey, etc.; and bananas are a great source of potassium. Seaweeds have lots of iodine, so even a sprinkling stirred into foods can be a large source of iodine (we put it in our homemade baby food).

  12. I live in California & from the research I’ve done my family will be stocking up/ including more of the following in our diets: Bee Pollen, beets, garlic, Blue-Green Algae (esp from Klamath Lake),foods containing chlorophyll, wheat sprouts, sea vegetables, kelp.

    Thank you very much for your post.

  13. Here is a LONG list of foods to help block/absorb/prevent radiation:

    and here:

    USE GREAT CAUTION if supplementing iodine as most women with (unrecognized) thyroid issues have Hashimoto’s which is an autoimmune disorder. Iodine can throw you into hyPERthyroid crisis.

    I do NOT recommend iodine supplementation, especially for pregnant or nursing women, unless medically advised. Iodine can also can create significant heavy metal toxin issues for people with mercury issues.


  14. My daughter is 15 months and I am still nursing. If I take 290 mcg, should I still give her Iodine separately? And where do you purchase Iodine? Is a prescription required?

  15. There are some good seaweed snacks. I’ve been getting a sweet one in a half pink package from a Korean company. My almost-3-year-old son loves it. I can’t remember the brand right now. Unfortunately that one still uses sugar (evap. cane juice).

    Love rolling California rolls with nori. Those are two easy ways to get some seaweed in.

    Still working on incorporating Kombu and others. I do have the Bragg’s seaweed sprinkle that I put on stuff, but would love ideas on how else to eat more seaweed.

  16. Whoa. wait a second. I’m in disbelief that it hasn’t been brought up what a horror this has been for the people of Japan… brothers and sisters in our human family… Japanese broadcasting news recently estimated that 120,000 children have been displaced from their families! Does anybody care? I appreciate the tips and reminder from some of you to live more healthy. A healthier society affects us all, being interdepedent… and so compassion and action for others in urgent need… Backyards and patriotism are just an illusion, as is security in material world.

  17. Please don’t succumb to panic, and PLEASE heed the warnings about unnecessary iodine supplements.

    The Japan problem bears no relationship to Chernobyl, because they use entirely different kinds of reactors, and the fuel rods in Japan are not on fire. My son has worked in a nuclear power plant, as well as on a nuclear submarine and he tells me there is ZERO chance that any radiation that might have been released in Japan will make it to California.

    We should be concerning ourselves with helping the people in Japan. Too much phony information on the web right now like maps of radioactive clouds–totally fabricated.

  18. Vera,

    No panicking here…just being prepared. Have faced natural disaster before and it does NOT hurt to be prepared and think forward about how to protect your loved ones.

    Prayers and REIKI to Japan in this devastating time.


  19. Excellent tips. A friend in Vancouver mentioned buying Iodine supplements and I couldn’t figure out why til I looked it up. I used to buy kelp supplements, and do love my brown rice.

  20. Besides seaweed, other helpful natural supplements for radiation poisoning include spirulina and chlorella. For more information, there is a resource available for download fromt the Internet titled:


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