Iodine is a mineral that is essential for thyroid function and fetal development. It is found in foods such as iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. However, some people may not get enough iodine from their diet and may need to take supplements or use iodine products for medical purposes.
But can you still buy iodine over the counter or online? The answer is yes, but with some restrictions and precautions. Here are some things you need to know before you buy iodine.
Types of Iodine Products
There are different types of iodine products available for different uses. Some of the most common ones are:
Potassium iodide: This is a form of iodine that is used to prevent or treat iodine deficiency, especially in pregnant and breastfeeding women and children. It is also used to protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine exposure, such as in a nuclear accident or a medical procedure. Potassium iodide is available as tablets, drops, or syrups. You can buy potassium iodide over the counter or by prescription, depending on the strength and dosage.
Iodine tincture: This is a solution of iodine and alcohol that is used as a topical antiseptic to disinfect wounds and prevent infections. It is also used to treat some skin conditions, such as ringworm and fungal infections. Iodine tincture is available as a liquid or a spray. You can buy iodine tincture over the counter at most pharmacies and online stores.
Iodine crystals: This is a solid form of iodine that can be dissolved in water or alcohol to make a solution. It is used for laboratory purposes, such as testing for starch or making iodized salt. However, it is also used illegally to make methamphetamine, a highly addictive and dangerous drug. Because of this, the sale of iodine crystals is regulated by the federal government and requires a special license. It is illegal to import, export, purchase, or sell iodine crystals in the United States if they are used or intended to be used in the production of methamphetamine.
Risks and Side Effects of Iodine
While iodine is generally safe and beneficial for most people, it can also cause some risks and side effects if taken in excess or if you have certain medical conditions. Some of the possible risks and side effects of iodine are:
Iodine allergy: Some people may have an allergic reaction to iodine, especially if they have a history of seafood allergy or asthma. Symptoms of an iodine allergy include hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention).
Thyroid problems: Too much or too little iodine can affect the function of your thyroid gland, which regulates your metabolism and other bodily functions. Excessive iodine can cause hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), which can lead to symptoms such as nervousness, weight loss, palpitations, and heat intolerance. Insufficient iodine can cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, and cold intolerance. Both conditions can also cause goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland) and affect your fertility and pregnancy outcomes.
Drug interactions: Iodine can interact with some medications that affect your thyroid function, such as levothyroxine (Synthroid), methimazole (Tapazole), propylthiouracil (PTU), and lithium. It can also interact with some blood pressure medications, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and diuretics. These interactions can either increase or decrease the effects of these drugs and cause unwanted side effects.
Precautions and Dosage of Iodine
To avoid the risks and side effects of iodine, you should follow these precautions and dosage recommendations:
Talk to your doctor: Before you buy or use any iodine product, you should consult your doctor about your medical history, current medications, allergies, and health