3 Tests for Iodine Deficiency

October is a key month for us here at The Cellulite Investigation. Our featured Cellulite Book-of-the-Month (BOTM) is Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It by Dr. David Brownstein.

It was early August when I first explained why iodine is the hottest new lead in our investigation. I started taking an iodine supplement, but my body had such a strong reaction to it –I knew I had to research iodine more carefully before attempting to reincorporate it into my diet.  This month is my opportunity to do just that.

But before we get into any of the details of Dr. Brownstein’s book, the first step I am going to take is to determine my level of iodine sufficiency.  Here are three ways you can test your iodine levels, each with varying degrees of accuracy and cost.  Which method is most appealing to you?

The Iodine Patch Test

This method is the simplest and least expensive.  The only material you need is tincture of iodine (the original colored solution, not the clear one).  Paint a swatch of the iodine over your stomach, approximately 3 inches in diameter, then observe how long it takes the color to fade from your skin. The faster the color fades, the greater the chance of iodine deficiency. It’s a sign of severe iodine deficiency if the color fades in less then 4 hours. If the color remains after 24 hours, then it’s likely you are iodine sufficient.

In a random sampling of his patient’s, Dr. Brownstein found that over 90 percent are iodine deficient. He uses more advanced tests at his practice (see below), but I think the patch test is a good place to start for me. Besides the fact that it’s easy and inexpensive, I like how you can repeat the test once a month or so to monitor any progress.  I’m going to start with this one, but I’d like to try a more “scientific” approach, too.

The Iodine Spot Test

The iodine spot test is based on a urine sample from your first trip to the bathroom after waking up in the morning.  You send the sample to a lab and they measure the level of iodine in the urine.  It’s the same price as the next test (approximately $70), but it’s not as accurate. Some docs recommend using the spot test to establish a baseline before taking the iodine-loading test.

The Iodine-Loading Test

This is the test Dr. Brownstein recommends in his book.  Like the spot test, it’s based on iodine levels in the urine, but with the iodine-loading test, an iodine supplement (50mg) is ingested before collecting the sample. All urine is collected over the next 24 hours.  Since the body holds onto iodine when it’s in an iodine-deficient state, the level of iodine excreted through the urine over the next 24-hour period is a reliable indicator of the degree of iodine deficiency.

Some labs offer similar tests for bromine and fluoride, since they are also halogens and can be measured with similar tests. Considering my history with fluoroderma, I am tempted to take the fluoride test but the 50mg iodine supplement makes me hesitant.  I had such a strong reaction to the other supplement I was taking, and that was only 200mcg.  Dr. Browntein says his patients experience fewer detox symptoms on the type of iodine used in the test, but I’m not sure I want to chance it.

*UPDATE:  It’s been several years since I wrote this post and I’ve learned SO MUCH about iodine since then that is critical for our investigation on cellulite.  I haven’t written about it yet, but I’m working on it!  To be notified of updates, you can signup to receive an email.

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Joan Hoffman says:

You speak of the iodine loading urine test, but further information is needed: where/how can I get the kit?


I used the kit from Hakala research. I took the test last weekend and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. You don’t even have to make a trip to the Post Office to send the sample to the lab. They give you a postage-paid box to use instead. I’m planning on writing a post with more details in the next week or so.

Thanks for your question, Joan! Please let me know how it goes if you do decide to take the test.

Deb says:

This information on iodine is very interesting. I have a diagnosed hypothyroid condition. Symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, etc., etc., are persisting in spite of increased dosage of synthroid, so I am researching how to build up my thyroid naturally. I occasionally eat a kelp/seaweed blend and plan henceforth to use it daily. I did the iodine patch test and it totally disappeared in an hour, although I did it on my two palms. Selenium and zinc also support the thyroid; I am awaiting iodine, iodide preparation which I have ordered online. Since I currently take synthroid, I do not believe that I could do the iodine load test, but must introduce it gradually. From what I have read, the thyroid responds rather slowly. My goal is to build up my thyroid as much as possible. If I can eventually dispense with the medication that would be great, however I am not confident that that level of thyroid health can be achieved. I simply want to ‘feel’ better. Increasing the medication level is not making a difference….so it is either not working or my thyroid is deteriorating. Apparently I do have an iodine deficiency, so that is where I am starting. My internal debate is whether or not, how much and when to inform my doctor. If I could establish thyroid health, I wonder if I could gauge medication dosage adjustment by how I feel. If this is not advisable, is there a way that I could get a lab to check my TSH levels independently? Any time I have had life life altering, life saving results in the past, have been when I have taken control of my own health. Thank you for this forum.


Hi, Deb. Thanks for your comment. Sorry I am just now getting back to you! Have you read Iodine, Why You Need It and Why You Can’t Live Without It by Dr. David Brownstein? I believe you need a care practitioner to order the tests for you, but he includes recommended labs in the book. Have you tried the Broda Barnes self test? It’s easy to do at home and many people it’s more accurate than the blood tests, anyway. It’s what I used and I was able to monitor my temperature return to a normal range as I eliminate fluoride from my diet over the past few years.

Margaret del Castillo says:

I read a paper by Dr. Weil, he said once we start Synthroid it shuts down the thyroid, but I have started taking 8 drops of iodine a day and feel a bit better. I had radioactive iodine in 1993
I had a Radioactive Iodine uptake test in 2014 and it was reported as normal uptake. My doctors tests
show I’m Hypo I’m rather mixed up at this time about it, my doctor seems to know nothing about the thyroid except what the tests tell him, that’s why I started the iodine against my his advice. I’ll have a blood test next month to check

Pedro says:

Read the book STOP THE THYROID MADNESS by Janie A. Bowthorpe or, alternatively, enter the web http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com, join any of the different forums on this matter. By the way, keep an eye on your adrenal health, vit.B12 and iron defficiency, too. Dr. Brownstein has also other books on this matters, apart from the cited above ( about iodine defficiency ) I hope this could help you and many others. Best regards, Pedro, Murcia, Spain.


Thanks for the book recommendation and other info, Pedro! I will look into the adrenal connection.

kifah says:

hi i want to ask about iodine urinary test by Sandal Kolthoff reaction if any one can help i will be grateful

Angi says:

To Deb – I would discuss with my doctor. If you’re not feeling better on Synthroid, there are other medications, which tend to make people feel better. Amour for example, which has T3 as well as T4. You are being undertreated if you’re not feeling better. I would ask doctor to do full test on vitamin deficiencies, etc.

Name says:

From the site of Dr. David Derry, http://thyroid.about.com/library/derry/bl2a.htm.
The “test” of putting iodine on the skin to watch how fast it disappears is not an indicator of anything. The iodine disappearance rate is unrelated to thyroid disease or even iodine content of the body.(1-2) Meticulous research by Nyiri and Jannitti in 1932 showed clearly when iodine is applied to the skin in almost any form, 50% evaporates into the air within 2 hours and between 75 and 80 percent evaporates into the air within 24 hours. (1) A total of 88 percent evaporates within 3 days and it is at this point that the evaporation stops. The remaining 12 percent that is absorbed into the skin has several fates. Only 1-4% of the total iodine applied to the skin is absorbed into the blood stream within the first few hours. The rest of the iodine within the skin (8-11%) is slowly released from the skin into the blood stream.

Altman says:

The use of DMSO before application of the iodine would greatly help the absorption rate. Perhaps a better iodine would be beneficial specifically lugols solution.

Daniel says:

I recently came across a form of iodine known as nascent iodine by Infowars Health.. I have yet to try supplementing with iodine, but after reading many articles, including yours, I am concerned about my iodine levels and as a result I am going to begin my iodine deficiency test to confirm my suspicion. I am curious about iodine in general, and even more interested in nascent iodine. Do you have any knowledge of nascent iodine and would you recommend it? Supposedly this form of iodine is the cleanest, purest form of iodine available- although Infowars.com just released a new form of iodine that is superior to their original product- I would like to know your thoughts on the former product, as well as the latter (if any)..?

Thank you for your time-

Carolyn Reed says:

I have no thyroid, I am on synthroid. I am tired, sluggish, going bald. Too many symptoms to name. Just wondering people on synthroid can take synthroid. I too have heard about the Iodine on Infowars. I just want to feel better. My thyroid levels are in normal range, but I just don’t have any energy.


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