When a nuclear event occurs, radioactive iodine is released into the air. Our thyroid glands require and absorb iodine to synthesize thyroid hormone, which amongst other things, circulates in our bodies to govern our metabolism. To prevent our thyroids from absorbing the radioactive iodine in the air, it is recommended to take the supplement Potassium Iodide. This non-radioactive source of iodine will saturate the thyroid with healthy iodine and prevent the absorption of the radioactive iodine which can destroy the thyroid and/or cause thyroid cancer. The FDA has approved two different forms of KI – tablets and liquid – that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency. Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (ml) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI. According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:
- Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
- Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
- Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
- Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children
- Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants
The protective effects of a dose of KI is about 24 hours. KI is available without a prescription, and a pharmacist can sell you KI brands that have been approved by the FDA. The above doses are to be taken daily until radiation levels, as reported by governmental authorities, drop to safe levels.
To the best of health,
Curt Hendrix, B.S. M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.
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