Potassium Iodide: A Critical Component of Nuclear Emergency Preparedness

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In a nuclear crisis, this cheap mineral supplement could save your thyroid.

In the event of a nuclear emergency, having potassium iodide (KI) on hand could save your life. KI protects against radioactive iodine exposure, the most immediate health threat in a nuclear crisis. Understanding the science behind this recommendation empowers individuals to make informed decisions for their families.  

 

Iodine and the Thyroid

 

Iodine is an essential micronutrient, required by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones regulating metabolism, growth, and development1. Under normal conditions, the thyroid absorbs adequate iodine from food and water2. But during a nuclear emergency, radioactive isotopes of iodine (iodine-131) may be released into the environment through fallout3. If inhaled or ingested, radioactive iodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, destroying cells and causing cancer over time4. The antidote is non-radioactive, stable iodine in the form of KI tablets or liquid solution.5.  

 

 

How KI Shields the Thyroid 

 

If taken prophylactically before or immediately after radiation exposure, KI floods the thyroid with stable iodine, preventing absorption of radioactive isotopes6. According to the FDA, KI only protects the thyroid and should be combined with other emergency measures like evacuation7. Still, as the most radiation-sensitive organ, protecting the thyroid is critical8. Studies of the Chernobyl disaster found children given KI had a statistically significant lower incidence of thyroid cancer years later9.  

 

Current Health Recommendations  

 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommends having personal KI stocks for emergency planning in case of nuclear disasters10. Ready-made KI tablets can be purchased inexpensively online or at many pharmacies without a prescription11. Given its proven protective effects and safety record, keeping a supply of KI is prudent preparation for any possible radiological/nuclear threat. Paired with traditional emergency strategies like sheltering, evacuation routes, and food/water stockpiles, KI offers critical biological protection when minutes matter most. After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  

 

 

For a pure source of potassium iodide we recommend the following products.

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References

1. Riesco G. Hormones (Athens). 2020;19(2):219-227.  

2. Leung AM, Braverman LE. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2014;43(3):775-795.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 27th, 2023. 

4. Fisher JL, et al. New England Journal of Medicine. 2019;381(13):1233-1241.

5. Reeves NJ, et al. JAMA. 2020;324(7):719-720.  

6. World Health Organization. Accessed January 27th, 2023.

7. US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed January 27th, 2023.  

8. Fisher JL, et al. New England Journal of Medicine. 2019;381(13):1233-1241.

9. US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed January 27th, 2023.

10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 27th, 2023

11. Reeves NJ, et al. JAMA. 2020;324(7):719-720.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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