In the course of the Ukraine crisis, the fear of nuclear accidents or a nuclear emergency, be it nuclear power plants, missiles or dirty bombs, is also growing in Germany and its neighboring countries. There are increasing press reports about battles in the immediate vicinity of nuclear power plants. For this reason, many EU citizens have been stocking up on iodine tablets again since 2022.
So that concerned people can prepare for the super GAU, we summarize the most important information here. The following are tablets that occur with increased radiation after a nuclear accident. Iodine ointments or tinctures of iodine are another topic: they help with acute injuries against inflammation, gangrene and blood poisoning. Iodine tablets do not help against this!
Why iodine tablets for radioactivity?
In the event of a nuclear accident at the nuclear power plant, radioactive isotopes are released into the environment. This includes radioactive iodine. Humans need iodine to produce certain hormones in the thyroid gland. The human body absorbs iodine through breathing air and food. He does not distinguish between healthy and radioactive iodine. So that no radioactive iodine is stored in the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland is saturated with medical iodine in nuclear power plant accidents. This is called “iodine blockade”.
Does iodine protect against radiation and radioactivity?
No, iodine does not generally protect against radiation. In an emergency, iodine tablets only serve the purpose of protecting the thyroid gland, while irradiated iodine occurs in our environment. Radiation that acts on our body can continue to damage our cells. People with radiation are already damaged. In this case, iodine blockade by iodine tablets will help very little. Iodine also does not help repair radiation damage.
What happens when radioactive iodine is ingested?
Iodine is accumulated in the thyroid gland. If radioactive iodine is absorbed into the thyroid gland, it irradiates the thyroid gland over a long period of time. The cells of the thyroid gland mutate, degenerate or are destroyed. Deadly cancer develops. If the same person has previously absorbed a lot of medical iodine in time, then the thyroid gland is filled and no longer stores radioactivity.
Does iodine protect against cancer?
Iodine does not generally protect against cancer. It is therefore not good to ingest iodine as a precaution if there has been no meltdown at the nuclear power plant or another radioactive accident. As a rule, there is no longer an iodine deficiency in Germany, since iodine is administered via iodized salt and other foods of the entire population through the diet. An additional intake of iodine is therefore not recommended for healthy people. The only exception are people with certain diseases, for example hypothyroidism.
Is it possible to overdose on iodine?
Yes, iodine can be overdosed. An iodine blockade is also a (short-term) overdose, which is only recommended in an extreme emergency. Iodine poisoning is manifested by a variety of specific symptoms. If the poisoning happens through the skin, this is manifested by irritation, inflammation and iodine knee. If iodine is overdosed orally (swallowed), the patient immediately feels a burning sensation of the mucous membranes in the throat and esophagus. In the course of iodine overdose, cardiovascular symptoms follow, blood pressure drops, cardiac arrhythmias, uncontrolled salivation and lacrimation, inflammation, sore throat and fever set in. Therefore, when taking iodine, pay attention to the instructions of your doctor and civil protection.
Dosage of iodine tablets
Dosage for iodine deficiency
Conventional iodine tablets are prescribed by the doctor if an iodine deficiency is proven. They are low doses and are taken over a long period of time. The dosage of iodine here is 100 micrograms per tablet.
Radiation protection: iodine blockade
In the case of increased radiation in the form of radioactive iodine isotopes, high-dose iodine tablets are taken shortly before the high level of exposure is expected. They fill the thyroid gland with uncontaminated iodine. For this purpose, for example, iodine tablets with 65 milligrams of iodine are taken. This corresponds to 650 conventional iodine tablets! This extreme dosage is only beneficial to health in an extreme emergency. Read more about iodine blockade at the Federal Office for Radiation Protection .
In the immediate vicinity of nuclear power plants, the authorities, town halls and fire brigades distribute suitable iodine tablets with instructions for use to the citizens. Follow the information provided by the authorities in the media.
Are Ukrainian nuclear power plants dangerous for Germany?
The German Federal Government assumes that, due to the distance to Ukraine, no high radiation exposure to radioactive iodine is to be expected in Germany, even in the event of war in the vicinity of nuclear power plants.
Conclusion: Buy iodine tablets and take them as a precaution?
If you have an iodine deficiency, you should talk to your doctor about taking iodine. For everyone else, don’t worry about iodine tablets and a nuclear accident. It is not in our power and the probability of a meltdown in a nuclear power plant near us is low.
If the worst case scenario, the biggest accident of a meltdown, threatens in your area, in Germany or one of our neighboring countries, then listen to a lot of radio! Inform yourself at the town hall and fire department. They will provide you with tools and information. There you will also receive iodine tablets that are suitable for iodine blockade of the thyroid gland. Iodine tablets from the pharmacy are not suitable for creating iodine blockade. They usually do more harm than good in healthy people.
Instead of buying iodine tablets, we recommend replenishing the pantry and emergency supplies so that you don’t have to go looking for food in the event of a radioactive cloud. Also, pay attention to messages regularly and close the windows in time to wait for the worst phase in your safe apartment. Please also note our article with a list for the medicine cabinet and many additional tips on how to face emergencies such as blackouts, lockdowns and public unrest.
This information has been researched with great care and formulated for laymen in order to reach as many people as possible. Please share the link and write your questions in the comments below.