My research has shown that after testing over 4,000 patients for their Iodine levels, over 96% of those tested are significantly low in iodine. Many patients ask me if they can take kelp instead of iodine. The amount of iodine in kelp can be variable. Furthermore, I was always concerned that kelp supplements may contain toxic amounts of arsenic or halides. I have tested 2 kelp supplements and found very elevated arsenic levels in both items. Both of these products were marketed heavily and sales in the millions of dollars were reported. When I contacted he manufactures of these products, neither returned my phone calls. Remember, if kelp is grown in a polluted area of the ocean, it may contain elevated amounts of these pollutants. New research has validated my findings.
Researchers at the University of California/Davis found that eight out of nine kelp supplements contained abnormal levels of arsenic (Env. Health Perspectives, April, 2007). The researchers began to look at kelp supplements after a patient presented to the UC Davis clinic with a myriad of complaints including memory loss, hair loss and fatigue. She was found to have very high arsenic levels which was traced to a kelp supplement she was taking. After stopping the kelp supplement, her arsenic levels gradually declined and her symptoms improved.
So, what can you do? IF you are low in iodine, take a pure iodine product that is not contaminated. Lugolís solution or tableted Lugolís solution (Iodoralģ) have both proven safe and effective in my practice. Kelp can be an appropriate iodine source if the kelp has been tested and found free of toxic elements. I would be very cautious about taking a kelp supplement unless the manufacture is consistently testing the kelp for purity and consistency.