Protect Yourself From Radiation Poisoning With These Nutraceuticals
Protect yourself from radiation poisoning, if god forbid you ever get exposed, by selecting among this list of nutraceuticals.
You can protect yourself from radiation poisoning with some nutraceuticals, primarily those that contain iodide, high amounts of antioxidants and/or can absorb and extract radioactive material from the body.
Iodide-containing nutraceuticals mainly work by covering the thyroid with iodide, thereby protecting it from radiation. When the body is exposed to radiation, free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced and oxidize cell components, resulting in cell damage; therefore, antioxidant-rich nutraceutcials help neutralize ROS. Nutraceuticals that can attract and absorb radioactive material in the gut can then facilitate their excretion via urine or feces.
A nurtraceutical is a food or part of a food that provides medicinal or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. For instance, a nutraceutical may be a naturally nutrient-rich or medicinally active food, such as garlic or soybeans, or it may be a specific component of a food, such as the omega-3 fish oil that can be derived from salmon and other cold-water fish.
Consider selecting and purchasing a few of the nutraceuticals described below should you want to have them ready in case of need. I have divided them into two groups: the first group contains those that I had scientific studies to support their potential effectiveness; the second group contains those that I did not confirm by scientific studies.
Potassium Iodide (first line defense)
Most everyone knows this way to protect yourself form radiation poisoning. This can protect the thyroid gland by saturating the thyroid with iodide so it cannot absorb radioactive iodine.
As the New York Times puts it:
“The idea of stockpiling the drug, potassium iodide, has been debated since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pa. Proponents renewed discussions of the proposal after the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine, a 1986 accident that is now blamed for thousands of thyroid cancers, mostly in people who were in utero or younger than 2 years old at the time. Those people, regardless of their age, who took potassium iodide at the time were protected.
“But the new recommendation is far more complex, establishing different recommended doses and different conditions for use for eight categories of people: newborns; infants younger than 3 years old; children 3 to 12; youths 12 to 18; adults 18 to 40; adults older than 40; and women who are lactating or are pregnant.”
After the Chernobyl incident, the U.S. FDA issued a final Guidance on Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies, and a FAQ to help you protect yourself from radiation exposure:
What does potassium iodide (KI) do?
The effectiveness of KI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well established. When administered in the recommended dose, KI is effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals or populations at risk for inhalation or ingestion of radioiodines. KI floods the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine and prevents the uptake of the radioactive molecules, which are subsequently excreted in the urine.
Can potassium iodide (KI) be used to protect against radiation from bombs other than radioactive iodine, such as radiation from a dirty bomb?
Potassium iodide (KI) works only to prevent the uptake of radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland. It is not a general radioprotective agent.
Who really needs to take potassium iodide (KI) after a nuclear radiation release?
The FDA guidance prioritizes groups based on age, which is the primary factor for determining risk for radioiodine-induced thyroid cancer. Those at highest risk are infants and children, as well as pregnant and nursing females because of the potential for KI to suppress thyroid function in the developing fetus and the newborn. The recommendation is to treat them at the lowest threshold (with respect to predicted radioactive dose to the thyroid). Anyone over 18 years old and up to 40 years old should be treated at a slightly higher threshold. Finally, anyone over 40 years old should be treated with KI only if the predicted exposure is high enough to destroy the thyroid and induce lifelong hypothyroidism (thyroid deficiency).
What potassium iodide (KI) products are currently available?
Only KI products that are FDA-approved may be legally marketed in the United States. As of March 2022, these KI products are FDA-approved and are available without a prescription:
- iOSAT tablets, 130mg, from Anbex, Inc.
- iOSAT tablets, 65mg, from Anbex, Inc.
- ThyroSafe tablets, 65mg, from BTG INTERNATIONAL, Inc.
- Potassium Iodide Oral Solution USP, 65mg/mL, from Mission Pharmacal Company
What dosages of potassium iodide (KI) should be taken for specific exposure levels?
FDA recommends the following dosing of KI for thyroid blocking following radioactive exposure:
Threshold Thyroid Radioactive Exposures and
Recommended Doses of KI for Different Risk Groups
|Predicted Thyroid gland exposure (cGy)||KI dose (mg)||Number or fraction of 130 mg tablets||Number or fraction of 65 mg tablets||Milliliters (mL) of oral solution, 65 mg/mL***|
|> 500||130||1||2||2 mL|
18 through 40 years
|> 10||130||1||2||2 mL|
|> 5||130||1||2||2 mL|
|> 5||65||½||1||1 mL|
3 years through 12 years
|> 5||65||½||1||1 mL|
|Children over 1
month through 3 years
|> 5||32||Use KI oral solution**||½||0.5 mL|
|Infants birth through 1
|> 5||16||Use KI oral solution**||Use KI oral solution**||0.25 mL|
* Adolescents approaching adult size (> 150 lbs or > 70 kg) should receive the full adult dose (130 mg)
** Potassium iodide oral solution is supplied in 1 oz (30 mL) bottles with a dropper marked for 1, 0.5, and 0.25 mL dosing. Each mL contains 65 mg potassium iodide.
When should I take potassium iodide (KI)?
KI should not be taken as a preventative before radiation exposure. After a radiological or nuclear event in the United States, local public health or emergency management officials will tell the public if there is a need to take KI or other protective actions. After an event in the US, you should follow the instructions given to you by these local authorities. Taking a higher dose of KI, or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.
For how long should I take potassium iodide (KI)?
Since KI protects for approximately 24 hours, it should be dosed daily until the risk no longer exists. Priority with regard to evacuation and sheltering should be given to pregnant females and neonates because of the potential for KI to suppress thyroid function in the fetus and neonate. Unless other protective measures are not available, we do not recommend repeat dosing in pregnant females and neonates.
Who should not take potassium iodide (KI) or should have restricted use?
Persons with known iodine sensitivity should avoid KI, as should individuals with dermatitis herpetiformis and hypocomplementemic vasculitis, extremely rare conditions associated with an increased risk of iodine hypersensitivity. A seafood or shellfish allergy does not necessarily mean that you are allergic or hypersensitive to iodine. People with nodular thyroid with heart disease should not take KI. Individuals with multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, and autoimmune thyroiditis should be treated with caution — especially if dosing extends beyond a few days. If you are not sure if you should take KI, consult your health care professional.
What are the side effects of potassium iodide (KI)?
Side effects are unlikely when KI is used at the recommended dose and for a short time. The following are possible side effects:
- Skin rashes
- Swelling of the salivary glands
- “Iodism” (metallic taste, burning mouth and throat, sore teeth and gums, symptoms of a head cold, and sometimes upset stomach and diarrhea)
- An allergic reaction can have more serious symptoms. These include fever and joint pains; swelling of parts of the body (face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, or feet); trouble breathing, speaking, or swallowing; wheezing or shortness of breath. Severe shortness of breath requires immediate medical attention.
Should I check with my doctor before I take potassium iodide (KI)?
KI is available without a prescription. However, if you have any health concerns or questions, you should check with your doctor before you take KI.
As a doctor, should I recommend potassium iodide (KI) for my patients who request it?
As with any drug, physicians should understand the risks and benefits of KI before recommending it or prescribing it to patients. We recommend that physicians read our 2001 guidance Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies for more information. The FDA guidance discusses the rationale and methods of safe and effective use of KI in radiation emergencies. It specifically addresses threshold predicted thyroid radioiodine exposure for intervention and dosing by age group. The recommendations for intervention are based on categories of risk for thyroid cancer, with the young prioritized because of increased sensitivity to the carcinogenic effects of radioiodine. We also recommend our 2002 guidance KI in Radiation Emergencies—Questions and Answers . This guidance provides answers to questions that FDA has received as state and local governments develop emergency response plans involving the use of KI to protect against the effects of radioactive iodine.
Should I buy potassium iodide (KI) to keep on hand?
KI works best if used within 3-4 hours of exposure. Although FDA has not made specific recommendations for individual purchase or use of KI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) supplies KI tablets, in accordance with FDA dosing guidelines, to states (including tribal governments) that request it for populations within the 10-mile emergency planning zone of a nuclear power plant.
NRC Reference: Use of Potassium Iodide
How do I know that potassium iodide (KI) will be available in case of an emergency?
FDA will continue to work with interested pharmaceutical manufacturers to assure that high quality, approved, safe, and effective KI products are available for purchase by consumers, by state and local authorities, and by federal government agencies electing to do so.
The bottom line is that you can protect yourself from radiation exposure to some degree with iodine, as it can remove radioactive iodine that has lodged in the thyroid gland. If you get a sufficient amount of iodine in your diet, you should be protected. More dose info below under Kelp and Sea Vegetables.
You may be able to protect yourself from radiation poisoning by ingesting Ginko Biloba. Lab studies show that extracts of Ginkgo Biloba reduce the effects of clastogenic factors — external materials (including plutonium and other radioactive substances) that fragment or delete DNA and inflict chromosomal damage, leading to mutation and cancer proliferation [1,2].
This effect is so powerful that it proved useful in treating workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant long after their exposure . More recently, ginkgo extracts proved to protect animals’ organs from direct radiation-induced damage .
Derived from the curry spice turmeric, curcumin exerts powerful radioprotective effects as a result of its antioxidant and detoxifying characteristics . Curcumin supplements reduce DNA damage and tumor formation in rats; they reduce both DNA damage and lipid peroxidation in cultured human white blood cells [6, 7].
Curcumin has antioxidant effects that protect normal tissue from radiation, and also upregulates genes responsible for cell death in cancers, enhancing tumor destruction by radiation . The result is increased survival in animals exposed to high-dose radiation .
When used in combination with other antioxidants including selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, N-acetyl cysteine, and coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid helped improve survival of mice following total-body irradiation. This 2010 study was particularly noteworthy because the antioxidant combination was effective even when administered 24 hours after a dose of radiation exposure that is often lethal.
Extracted from the cell walls of baker’s yeast, beta-1,3 glucan is a potent immune enhancer. It activates important macrophages and is also an antioxidant.
A 2017 study showed that the presence of beta D-glucan in the body of mice during exposure to ionizing radiation had the radioprotectory effect of this agent. In combination with vitamin E, there was increased resistance of mice against ionizing radiation.
A 2005 study demonstrated that the free radicals generated by ultraviolet (UV) or ionizing radiation can attack cellular lipids, proteins and DNA. Endogenous free radical scavengers such as glutathione and the polyamines (e.g, spermidine and spermine) can inhibit the action of free radicals (peroxides and hydroxyl radicals).
A 2003 study showed that Naringin can protect against radiation-induced chromosomal damage in mice.
Radiation is a well-known inducer of free radicals, and compounds that can scavenge free radicals may reduce radiation-induced DNA damage. Naringin, a bioflavonoid predominant in grapefruit and other citrus fruits, has been found to scavenge free radicals, therefore it may also reduce radiation-induced damage.
Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO)
According to a 2020 study, DMSO, a free-radical scavenger, a single dose of oral DMSO administrated before irradiation conferred 100% survival of mice receiving otherwise lethal, as well as super-lethal, radiation doses, with wide a radioprotective time frame from 15 minutes to four hours.
Unsubstantiated Nutraceuticals that May Protect You From Radiation Poisoning
An email list I was on forwarded the following material about various nutraceuticals that protect against radiation poising. Unfortunately, no source attribution was provided. Nonetheless, I share this with you in case any of it resonates with you and you want to explore further.
Kelp: Supplement the diet with organic iodine, as in kelp (Norwegian or other clean water kelp, if possible), this will saturate the thyroid so radioactive iodine will not be absorbed. (It, like all sea vegetables contains an amazing substance called sodium alginate which we will get to later.) Dose: 1 to 2 teaspoons of granules daily, or 5 to 10 tablets.
Sea Vegetables: Sodium alginate is one of the more powerful protective substances in sea vegetables like kelp, which includes arame, wakame, kombu, and hijiki. Sodium alginate reduces the amount of strontium-90 absorbed by bone tissue by 50 to 83 percent.
Another benefit of sea vegetables is the natural iodine. If there is insufficient iodine in the diet radioactive iodine-131 will be absorbed and collected in the thyroid gland. Even if radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid, taking natural iodine helps offset the side effects of exposure. According to Dr. Russell Morgan, one mg. of iodine for children and five mg. for adults taken daily will reduce by about 80 percent the radioactive iodine accumulated in the thyroid. Whole foods are the best source of iodine, e.g. sea vegetables like hijiki, arame, kombu and dulse. Iodine is leached from the thyroid gland by drinking chlorinated water. Avoid iodized salt which contains excessive sodium and no potassium. Sea vegetables are rich in vitamins and contain most if not all of the essential minerals and trace elements. Sea vegetables also help dissolve fat and mucus deposits.
Bee Pollen: Studies show that bee pollen can significantly reduce the usual side effects of both radium and cobalt-60 radiotherapy and also the sickness after massive abdominal x-rays. One study showed that the proliferation of cancer cells stopped in cancerous tumors induced in mice.
Bee Propolis: Besides the healing and anti bacterial qualities of this substance, it has been effective in clinical stages of radioepithelitis, i.e. inflammation of epithelial tissue due to radiation. (Same as above. Get unheated, raw organic honey; it is a good source of pollen, royal jelly and propolis.)
Beets: Beets have been shown to rebuild hemoglobin of the blood after exposure to radiation. Rats fed a diet of 20 percent beet pulp were able to prevent cesium-137 absorption and 97 to 100 percent more effectively than rats given no beets.
Primary-grown Nutritional Yeast: Besides having Vitamin E, it also contains the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, both of which have been shown to have radio protective qualities. It has been shown to help rebuild and regenerate cells damaged by radiation, and also to produce relief from radiation poisoning and it’s many horrible symptoms. Nutritional yeast has a good amount of many important nutrients. Primary –grown yeasts bonds with and absorb heavy metals such as uranium, lead and mercury!
Garlic and Onions: Cysteine, also present in onions, binds with and deactivates both the radioactive isotopes and toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. The sulfur in cysteine helps the kidneys and liver detoxify the body. Garlic has many wonderful healing properties and should be researched.
Green Cabbage: Lourau and Lartigue reported that green cabbage increased the resistance of guinea pigs to radiation. The US Army found that broccoli, green cabbage and alfalfa reduced the effects of radiation on guinea pigs by 50 percent.
Calcium: By the mechanism of selective uptake, calcium blocks or decreases the absorption of strontium-90, calcium-45 and other radioactive isotopes by the skeletal system. Calcium also helps to eliminate radioactive isotopes that are lodged in the bones! The National Research Council recommends that adults consume 800 mg. of calcium per day. For children and lactating women this is 1,000 mg. and 1,400 mg.. Too much calcium can be harmful. The best forms of supplemental calcium are calcium citrate, gluconate, carbonate, lactate, or amino acid chelated calcium. It is good to take a calcium—magnesium combination.
Magnesium: Like calcium, magnesium prevents the uptake of radioisotopes and helps to eliminate already stored strontium-90. One reason not to use synthetic vitamin D (Calciferol) is that it can combine with magnesium and carry it out of the body. Calciferol is contained in much commercial milk. Fluoride also leaches calcium from the body among other horrendous things. The optimal diet should contain about ½ as much magnesium as calcium. The RDA for calcium is 350 mg. to 700 mg. The high end should not be exceeded but since the Standard American Diet or SAD does not supply enough magnesium, supplements are recommended.
Vitamin A: In 1974, researchers from India found that vitamin A, when taken internally by humans, hastened recovery from radiation. In 1984, Dr. Eli Seifter and a team of researchers fro the Albert Einstein College of Medicine….reported vitamin A and beta-carotene counteracted both partial and total body gamma radiation. It also improved the healing of wounds; reduced weight loss, thymic and splenic atrophy, and adrenal enlargement; and prevented gastro-ulceration and an abnormal decrease in red and white blood cell formation. (The therapeutic purposes, 25,000 to 35,000 IU are recommended for adults. During emergencies or crisis situations, intensive exposure may warrant as much as 40,000 to 100,000 IU of beta-carotene, but should be taken for no more than three to four weeks. Infants should not consume high amounts. This info is only very partial and you should consult the book for specifics.)
Vitamin B Complex: There are so many benefits to the B vitamins that there is no space to list them. One of the many is they normalize the red and white blood cell count, because the destruction of white blood cells by radiation can last for extended periods of time. The various B vitamins have different effects and should be taken together.
Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids: Not to be redundant; researchers at Harvard Medical School said, “Our experiment showed that vitamin C can prevent damage from radiation….it somehow keeps the radiation from killing the cells.” Their experiment indicates that the dosage for humans exposed to intensive radiation would be approximately 10 grams per day—a mega dose. (More about C and radiation later from Dr. Thomas Levy. The literature must be studied before mega dosing but levels up to 50,000 and more have been administered for short periods with good results. If more than 750 mg. of vitamin C is taken daily, calcium, magnesium, B6 (within the whole B Complex), and sufficient water to prevent kidney stones. The body cannot store much C and it is used for darn near everything in the body, so make sure you get enough.)
Vitamin D: An adult therapeutic dose would range from 400 IU per day to 1,000 IU daily. During an emergency, adult daily dosage could go as high as 2,000 IU, if taken for no longer than one month. (I would say to find a natural vitamin D as there have been reports that synthetic vitamin D has some bad side effects.)
Vitamin E: It can protect against the effects of x-rays and radioactive cobalt. It improves anemia following exposure to radiation. It can provide internal and external protection against cesium-137 which is a common component of fallout and nuclear power plant leaks and routine emissions. For the form of E d-alpha-tocopherol, an adult weighting about 155 would need about 900 IU per day. (I take more than this every day normally. On exposure, I would take 1600 IU as I have many times for several weeks. I prefer to get the dry, water dispersable E, but any kind is good as long as it is fresh. The oil can go rancid. Also, try to get the most natural form.) E also helps prevent the destruction of Vitamin A and fatty acids by massive doses of x-rays. If large doses of C, B and E are taken before exposure, the terrible symptoms of radiation sickness can be reduced or eliminated to a large degree. Caution: E should be used cautiously if you have high blood pressure or rheumatic heart disease.
Potassium: If there is a deficiency, radionuclides like cesium-137, cesium-134, potassium-40 and potassium-42, are absorbed through selective uptake etc. RDA is uncertain but health authorities suggest a minimum of 2,000 to 6,000 mg. in the diet. Usually supplementation is not necessary and too much can be dangerous.
Zinc: A diet that supplies sufficient zinc blocks the uptake of radioactive zinc-65. Zinc DTPA has been used to chelate americium-241 from a nuclear accident victim. Natural zinc also will help the body eliminate several toxic heavy metals including cadmium, aluminum, lead, and excess copper. Although doses over 50 mg. per day have been used it should be under a doctor’s care.
Iron: A number of studies indicate exposure to radiation significantly decreases levels of iron in the body. Radioactive iron and plutonium, isotopes similar in structure to iron, can be carried to iron storage sites such as liver, bone marrow, ovaries or testes, and lungs if the body is deficiency in iron. The National Research Council recommends a daily intake of 18 mg. for women, 30 to 60 mg. daily if pregnant or more if lactating; 10 mg. for men, and 10 to 18 mg. for children. After exposure to radiation or loss of blood, supplementation of approximately 10 to 18 mg. daily.
Siberian Ginseng: Eleutherococcus senticosus is the best for medicinal purposes. Soviet researchers reported that eleuthero extract has radio protective qualities, and can be used in conditions of acute or chronic radiation sicknesses such as hemorrhaging, severe anemia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and headaches due to x-rays. It can lengthen survival time after exposure. The list is too long. Do some research. It is almost miraculous protecting against infections. poisons, etc. It increases human resistance to a remarkably wide variety of stressors.
Adult extract treatment doses: 20 to 40 drops before meals, two or three times per day. Children: single dose one drop per each year of age, repeated twice a day.
Panax Ginseng: Studies have found this Asian version is effective against radiation as well. Researchers observed, ginseng increases the rate of production of serum albumin and gamma-globulin as well as DNA and RNA protein, and lipid synthesis in bone marrow cells. Also, human subjects taking ginseng root were able to acclimatize more easily to oxygen-deficient air. Both types can be taken daily as they build up in the body in a positive way. Best to take small amounts over a long period.
Aloe: Of the more than 200 species of Aloe, these species have shown evidence of being radio-protectants: aloe barbadensis (aloe vera), aloe arborescens, aloe striatula, and aloe saponaria. Emulsions can prevent the development of local reactions in radiation therapy and treating radiation burns of second and third degrees. Aloe also accelerates the process of tissue repair and normal cell growth. It is optimal to use its fresh form direct from the juicy leaves of the plant. It also has pain-relieving properties. Use fully mature leaves from outer leaves first.
Medicinal Charcoal: Has the ability to absorb and neutralize radioactive substances and some toxic materials. Researchers report that 10 grams or 1 tablespoon of charcoal can absorb about 3 to 7 grams of materials.
Chlorophyll: A number of studies found that chlorophyll-rich foods can decrease radiation toxicity. Spirulina and chlorella are two micro-algae that are rich in this substance, as are leafy greens, celery, parsley, the sprouts of any grain or bean, the young shoots of any edible grass and sunflower greens. Chlorophyll is similar in structure to hemoglobin.