Saturday, 18 April 2015

Is Iodine essential or harmful to the body

Discovery of Iodine
Iodine is an element with the symbol “I” and atomic number 53. It is a trace element, which means that it is found in small amounts in a sample or in the environment. Although land plants such as cranberries are a good source of iodine, the ocean houses the highest amount of foods containing iodine. Iodine was discovered by the French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811 while extracting sodium and potassium compounds from seaweed ash. He added sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to further process the ash but accidentally added too much thus, producing a violet colored gas. This gas condensed on metal objects in the room, creating solid iodine. Courtois was trying to manufacture gunpowder for Napoleon’s army when he discovered iodine. Within a few years, Humphrey Davy, an English chemist proved that the substance Courtois had discovered belonged to the halogen family and named it iodine.

How Iodine was found to be a cure for goiter
 Goiter, as seen in the image above, is a swelling of the neck or larynx resulting from the enlargement of the thyroid gland. This enlargement might be due to insufficient amounts of iodine (hypothyroidism) or excess secretion of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Ancient art and science tells us that goiters have existed for centuries and was believed to be a result of drinking dirty water.
The ancient Chinese were probably the first people to successfully treat goiters when they realized that large doses of seaweed and burnt sponge managed the swellings very well.  They also treated their patients using dried thyroid glands of animals such as sheep and pigs although they didn’t understand how these things were able to cure their patients. A Swiss-German physician by the name Paracelsus was the first person to point out that there was a correlation between goiters and lack of minerals, although he thought that this missing mineral was iron sulphide. It wasn’t until 1821 when the Swiss doctor Jean Coindet reasoned that the newly discovered iodine could be the ingredient behind the seaweed and animal thyroid gland’s cure of goiter.

Uses of Iodine
Iodine is used in iodized salts as a means of preventing goiter.
It can be used to treat and enlarged thyroid if the goiter is due to lack of iodine
It is used as an ingredient in disinfectants that may be added to swimming pools and drinking water.
It is also an ingredient in antiseptics and germicides.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iodine is 150 micrograms. Exposure to high amounts could have terrible effects on an individual. Short-term exposure to high amounts of iodine may cause burning of mouth and throat, vomiting and abdominal pain whereas long-term exposure may result in progression of symptoms to fever, shock and even death.


Baker (2004)D.H. BakerIodine toxicity and its amelioration, Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 229 (2004), pp. 473–478
Iodine. (2015). In The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Retrieved from
Martinez, A. H., Perez, E. J., & Ebrary Academic Complete (Canada) Subscription Collection. (2012). Iodine: Characteristics, sources, and health implications. New York: Nova Biomedical Books.
Rosenhek, J. (2008, May 7). Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move. Retrieved April 16, 2015, from
United States. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, & Corporation, S. R. (2004). Toxicological profile for iodine

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Dangers of Sodium Nitrites

NaNO2 - The Dangers of Sodium Nitrites
By: Danielle Pennycook

     Does high processed meat consumption have health risks? Almost all meat in the stores these days contain preservatives and there are many articles stating that it has adverse health effects. The main preservative used in meat is sodium nitrite, NaNO2. Most people consume processed meat sometimes and the question is if it is safe for us.

     Sodium nitrite is on oxidative agent and reacts with the meats myoglobin to keep it in a stable oxidative state2. The stable oxidative state makes the meat more pink and last longer. Sodium nitrite also prevents the growth of botulism causing bacteria from growing and spreading. The prevention of botulism is important to the publics safety but since sodium nitrite can be toxic the FDA limits meat to have only 120 ppm3. In rats the LD50 of sodium nitrite if digested is 180mg/kg, less than a gram would kill a rat and if the LD50 is similar to humans it'd take about 7 grams for someone 130 pounds4. So the sodium nitrite wont kill us but there are researched articles that state it causes gastrointestinal cancer, brain tumours and type 1 diabetes. One research experiment found that high levels of consumed cured meat will increase a pregnant mothers risk of having a child with a brain tumour5

     Sodium nitrites when in presences of amines can react and form nitrosamines, which is a known carcinogenic. Nitrosamines can cause cancer which is the main concern about processed meat, not the sodium nitrite itself. If sodium nitrites in presence of amines when in high temperatures or an acid environment like your stomach it can react and form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are very reactive and can react with the myoglobin in people to produce NO-MetMb which causes methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia inability for red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body6. Research says that vitamin C(ascorbic acid) and vitamin E(alpha-tocopherol) inhibit endogenous formation of nitrosamines and decreased the risk of brain tumours. 

     I think sodium nitrite is safe if it is consumed in moderate amounts and you have a healthy diet with vitamins. There are preservative free meat that use natural alternatives like vegetable oils that are a healthier choice. 


1. Processed Meat Declared to Dangerous for Human Consumption (2013).

2. Parthasarathy, D. Bryan, N. (2012). Sodium Nitrite: The “cure” for nitric oxide insufficiency. 

3. Sodium Nitrite Q&A. March 28, 2015)

4. Sodium Nitrite (2013). The Merck Index. Firteenth Edition. RSC Publishing.

5. Preston-Martin, Susan (1996). Maternal Consumption of Cured meat in relation to paediatric brain tumours. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers.

6. Ipatenco, S (2014). The Harmful Effect of Sodium Nitrite in Food. March 28, 2015)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Is Fluorine Good or Bad ?

Do you ever wonder, the one ingredient in your toothpaste that prevent tooth cavity and gives it that shine, well fluorine is that one ingredient and it can be found on water, soil and in our food 7, 8. Fluorine in ionic state, fluoride, in water is called fluoridation and it is a major controversies in Calgary 1. The reasons for that is because, fluoride is very toxic to human health and it has it benefits as well. The toxic health risk are dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, deformation of red blood cell, effect of the reproductive system, effect of immune system and carcinogenic 4,5. Debate concerning fluoridation took place in the year 2013; Dr. Dickson is against fluoridation and he mentioned that fluoride is a toxic chemical which should not be put in water 1. On the other hand, Dr. Tomkins is for fluoridation and she mentioned that it is safe and prevent tooth decay 1. Dr. Tomkins is also concern about dental expenses for the poor, children and elderly if there be a removal of fluoride in water 1. With the daily intake of fluorine in our food, water, tooth paste, mouth wash and rinse, the body is susceptible to toxic effect because fluorine has 70- 90% absorption in gastrointestinal tracts in the form of an ion 4. Fluoride absorption concentration can be reduced by the increase stomach PH and the increase concentration of calcium, magnesium and aluminum; this is because it forms an insoluble complex of fluoride 4. There are alternative for fluoridated toothpaste such as hydrogen peroxide, herbal tooth power, baking soda, sea salt, tooth soap and even dry brushing 9. Alternatives for fluoridated drinking water is to just remove the fluoride from the water 3.
So now you know the toxic health effect and benefit of fluorine in our tooth paste and water, what is your opinion and would you still use the fluoridated toothpaste?

1). CBCnews.(2011 January). The fluoride debate – The pros and cons of putting it in community drinking water. Retrieved from
2). Lenntech. Water Treatment Solution. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from
3) Meenakshi, Maheshwari.(2006).Fluoride in Drinking Water and its removal: Journal of Hazardous Materials,137(1), 456-463,
4). National Research Council Staff. (1993). Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride. National Academics Press. Retrieved from
5). Tylenda Carolyn A.(2011).Toxicolofical Profile for Fluorides, Hydrogen Fluoride, and
 Fluorine (update). DIANA Publishing. Retrieved from          id=geXFDm1yZ8QC&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=ld50+of+fluoride&source=bl&ots=HN-te8uBCB&sig=yiXqxfr-uVSd7EF9wDeO6EvdLB4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=3CwgVeLJJ4uuogSt9oLgAw&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAzgK#v=onepage&q=ld50%20of%20fluoride&f=false
6). Wikipedia. (March 2015).Fluoride. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from
7). Wikipedia. (March 2015). Fluorine. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from
8). Wikipedia. (March 2015). Water Fluoridation. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from
9). Willing E. 12 Natural Toothpaste Alternatives. The Nourished Life. Retrieved April 4, 2015, from