We need natural (non-radioactive) iodine for the proper functioning of our thyroid gland. This small amount (0.1 to 0.2 mg/day) is obtained from our food. When radioactive iodine is absorbed in the body, it is stored to a large extent in the thyroid gland. As a result, the thyroid gland can be exposed to high amounts of radiation which can cause thyroid cancer, particularly in children.
Taking iodine tablets blocks the absorption of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland, thus protecting it.
How is radioactive iodine absorbed in the body?
Radioactive iodine is absorbed in the body in three ways:
The iodine tablets contain a large amount of natural iodine (as potassium iodide 65 mg/tablet) which, after ingestion, saturate your thyroid gland with iodine (figure A). As a result, the radioactive iodine, to which you are potentially exposed, can no longer be absorbed and stored in your thyroid gland, which means it is protected (figure B). The excess of iodine (non-radioactive and radioactive) will be excreted quickly via urine.
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