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Iodine In Organic Dairy
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Hey there,

Can anyone explain why organic dairy is supposed to contain less iodine?

From what I've found organically fed and traditionally fed cows are both cleaned with iodine before milking (and thats part of what shows up in the milk). Also, just because feed is organic it doesn't mean it's iodine-free.

Can anyone cite a source of this info other than a European study claiming European Organic milk is lower in iodine?

I hope it's true because I am not a fan of milk alternatives in my coffee, etc.

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Perhaps I can shed a bit of light on this. A lot of feed/grass is grown in soil that was contaminated with iodine back in the 50's and 60's when nuclear testing was done in Nevada (and possibly other states) with radioactive iodine. While the radiation eventually dissipated, once iodine gets into the soil, it's there for pretty much an eternity. It gets into the food chain. The winds blew the iodine towards the western states and parts of Canada. Our soil in California is used to grow a lot of vegetables and grasses, and, for the most part, I assume that the high amount of iodine we now see in our vegetables can be blamed on the radioactive iodine fallout. We also have a thriving dairy business in California, and my guess over the years has been that the grasses that are now contaminated with iodine are being eaten by the cows or their feed is contaminated with it. Of course, this is only based on my own theory and putting two and two together. When the government had to admit in newspapers across the country that it had conducted nuclear testing using radioactive iodine (and asking people with thyroid cancer to contact them), the mystery of how iodine got into our milk supply and vegetables was (in my mind) resolved. I sent several letters to the agency to whom letters of inquiry were supposed to be sent, asking about the iodine contamination, but all I got back were form letters telling me that the radiation had dissipated. Apparently, they thought they'd only receive inquiries about the radiation. Unfortunately, the iodine contamination is a bigger problem, and they are apparently choosing to ignore it. At one point, the Canadian government issued a warning that stated that their milk was so contaminated by iodine, it was no longer safe for children to drink. You might try doing some research on this. I used to do a lot of research on how iodine got into our milk supply because I thought my DH was caused by iodine, since I had never heard of celiac or gluten. Removing iodine caused the blisters to recede, and I made it a one-woman cause to find out why there was so much iodine in our food. The information above is what I found.

As for why iodine may be lower in organic milk, I don't know. All I know is that I don't react negatively to organic dairy products. I avoided dairy for five years when I made the connection to its containing iodine, and my DH cleared up immediately and stayed clear. When I reintroduced milk, the DH came back, but when I began drinking organic milk, the DH finally resolved.

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The only thing I found (other than the European study was webmd blog about how iodine levels have been falling in all dairy because of farming methods.

That said, I saw quite a few things about western states' organic dairies (grass-fed/pastured) having concerns about radioactive fallout(iodine). Organic dairies appeared more at risk because the animal feed was pasture receiving fallout.

Of course, I live in a western state.

I really don't know, and I kept reading that no study like the UK study has been done in the US in decades.

I guess I'll give it up for 2 weeks and see what happens ( and hope it doesn't become permanently necessary).

Btw, I always buy organic dairy...so no change for me except to give it up, which SUCKS.

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Perhaps I can shed a bit of light on this. A lot of feed/grass is grown in soil that was contaminated with iodine back in the 50's and 60's when nuclear testing was done in Nevada (and possibly other states) with radioactive iodine. While the radiation eventually dissipated, once iodine gets into the soil, it's there for pretty much an eternity.

I hate to burst your bubble, but iodine-131 decays to xenon-131, which is a stable, nonradioactive gas that blows away. The iodine from nuclear testing was gone within months of when the bombs exploded. That's why the agency told you it dissipated.

As far as Fukushima iodine in the American midwest, it should be gone, though it's hard to be certain whether the melted down cores are still fissioning. None of the recent data from Tepco has shown indication of short-lived nuclides for all that's worth. Radioactive cesium is the worry now and not only in milk.

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Skylark,

I appreciate your comments...and I hope they're accurate. I spoke with a geologist on this matter some years ago, and he was vehement that once iodine mixes with soil, it becomes part of the food chain forever. However, you seem very knowledgeable about this subject, and I would be interested in learning more. Do you have any information that would shed light on why our vegetation and dairy are so high in iodine these days? Really...this is a topic that interests me tremendously...and I would like to learn more.

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The thing with radioactive elements is that they often transform to different elements when they decay. Also, even though the amount of radioactivity released by a nuclear test or accident is high, the amount in kg is relatively low. Chernobyl released maybe 10kg of I-131 (50 million curies), most of which was vapor. On a global scale, 10kg is a whisper. It's just that I-131 is highly radioactive so it's easy to detect and very dangerous so we hear about it in the news. There is a long-lived iodine nuclide that is also released, I-129, but even in the peak years of nuclear testing it was only one in 10,000,000 iodine molecules in the soil. Your geologist friend is correct that once iodine is in the soil it tends to stay there.

I don't think the explanation for increasing iodine in soils in some areas is simple or well understood. One idea is that that it could be from natural fertilizers, because animals are given feed with iodine in it. Iodine chemistry is rather complex. I found a whole 1200-page book on it. If you're curious you might have a look at the parts of the book that are online and talk about soil.

http://books.google.com/books?id=7v7g5XoCQQwC&l

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Thanks so much, Skylark! I'll take a look at the literature over the three-day holiday. Yes, I agree that it's very complex....and I hadn't even considered the natural fertilizer possibility. No matter what caused it, though--it's here to stay. I really appreciate your taking the time to explain this concept. Are you a chemist?

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BTW - that's the "farming methods" I mentioned in that webmd blog.

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I wonder if, with organic produce, some of the added iodine in the soil might come from kelp. It's a very popular ingredient in organic fertilizer sprays, and very high in iodine as well, although I don't know how concentrated it is, or how much that iodine might really add up to, on the scale you're talking about.

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Thanks so much, Skylark! I'll take a look at the literature over the three-day holiday. Yes, I agree that it's very complex....and I hadn't even considered the natural fertilizer possibility. No matter what caused it, though--it's here to stay. I really appreciate your taking the time to explain this concept. Are you a chemist?

You're welcome. Glad to help! I have rather a lot of training in biochemistry and had to learn a fair amount of basic chemistry along the way.

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I wonder if, with organic produce, some of the added iodine in the soil might come from kelp. It's a very popular ingredient in organic fertilizer sprays, and very high in iodine as well, although I don't know how concentrated it is, or how much that iodine might really add up to, on the scale you're talking about.

Isn't the kelp specifically used to add iodine to low-iodine soils?

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As someone who has dabbled in organic fertilizers - no. Although it could double as that but seaweed or fish (emulsion) are good multi-purpose fertilizers. Rich in vitamins and minerals.

I don't think I've ever heard of an organic gardener wanting to raise iodine levels, but then again I'm not a farmer or dairyman.

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prickleypair1971,

I'm also an organic gardener, and I never even thought about how the fish emulsion, Wonder Grow, and MaxSea might be affecting the soil. Since most of the organic fertilizers I use are of the spray type (as you also indicated), I use them exclusively on foliage. Funny, though--I never considered that they'd be high in iodine. Duh! Maybe I'm contributing to the problem...

And, Skylark, I hope you'll continue to enlighten us--knowledge is always welcome.

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Thanks, Pricklypear! It's nice to see this type of thing in print. Twenty-five years ago, it was difficult to come up with any information, and I was left to do research at libraries, which contained outdated books. Thank goodness, the Internet arrived and saved me eventually.

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As someone who has dabbled in organic fertilizers - no. Although it could double as that but seaweed or fish (emulsion) are good multi-purpose fertilizers. Rich in vitamins and minerals.

I don't think I've ever heard of an organic gardener wanting to raise iodine levels, but then again I'm not a farmer or dairyman.

There are some Chinese studies using a kelp/diatomaceous earth fertilizer to add iodine to crops. There are some regions in China where iodine deficiency is a problem so they're looking at how to get more iodine into vegetables. I guess kelp is also rich in potash and other nutrients plants like too! B)

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