Potassium Iodide: A Nuclear Survival Kit Must Have

by Tommy Grant

As tensions between nuclear-armed countries continue to rise, it’s becoming increasingly important for preppers to include nuclear war survival supplies in their emergency kits. One such supply that is essential to have on hand is Potassium Iodide (KI).

The world is edging ever closer to a nuclear attack, if not an all-out nuclear war. Tensions between Russia and the US are leading us down the path toward the use of nuclear weapons. Likewise, the potential for conflict between China and the US over the fate of Taiwan is increasing by the day. Then, there are the hostilities between the nuclear-armed countries of India and Pakistan. There is also the rise of nuclear-armed crazies like North Korea and Iran. And finally, there is an increasing likelihood for terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear device or detonate a dirty bomb in any city of their choosing. 

Because of all this, you may be, now more so than ever, considering adding nuclear war survival supplies to your survival medicine kit. The problem is that most of us don’t have any idea what to use, why it’s important, or how to use it. Fortunately, this article is about to discuss what to do during radiation emergencies! 

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Disclaimer: As with all things medical, please discuss this with your medical provider and determine what is appropriate for your individual medical needs. While I am a paramedic and not a doctor, this article is based on research done on the FDA and CDC websites. Sources are cited throughout and at the end.

Why is Potassium Iodide (KI) an Important Nuclear Survival Prep?

Potassium Iodide, also known as KI, is a type of salt that contains iodine – a critical nutrient that is required by the body to produce thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, the thyroid gland is very susceptible to damage after radioactive iodine exposure. 

The Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland, although small in size and weighing only 20-60 grams, plays a vital role in regulating the hormones that control several essential metabolic functions in the body. These include but are not limited to breathing, heart rate, body weight, temperature, muscle strength, and the central nervous system.

In the event of a nuclear emergency, radioactive iodine can be released into the air. Once released, the radioactive iodine is then free to be inhaled or ingested by individuals, where it is absorbed by the thyroid gland. Unfortunately, for our survival, the thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of radioactive iodine (I-131).

The way to combat the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine is by pre-saturating your thyroid with a stable, non-radioactive iodine—Potassium Iodide. In short, the non-radioactive Potassium Iodide fills the thyroid so that there is no room for the uptake of the radioactive iodine that may be present in the air, food, etc.

One way to saturate your thyroid with non-harmful iodine is by taking Potassium Iodide before or shortly after exposure to a nuclear event. By pre-loading yourself with Kl, you will reduce the chances of your thyroid gland absorbing the harmful radioactive iodine and eventually developing thyroid cancer—one of the most common cancers associated with radiation exposure.

Radioactive iodine can cause cancer. Here’s how the CDC explains it:

The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine. It will absorb both. KI (Potassium Iodide) blocks radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed by the thyroid. Because KI contains so much stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes “full” and cannot absorb any more iodine—either stable or radioactive—for the next 24 hours.

Important Note About Potassium Iodide

It is important to note that while taking Potassium Iodide provides protection against radioactive iodine, it does not protect the body against other types of radioactive isotopes. 

Additionally, Potassium Iodide will not reverse any damage already done by exposure to radioactive iodine. Therefore, it is crucial to start taking KI immediately after exposure for maximum protection. It is equally important to refrain from taking KI if there is no radioactive threat, as it can be harmful to the body.

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How to Take Potassium Iodide After a Nuclear Event

To maximize the effectiveness of Potassium Iodide after a nuclear emergency, it is crucial to begin taking it as soon as possible. Ideally, it should be taken within 2-3 hours of exposure (Source). 

The recommended dosages by the FDA for Potassium Iodide are as follows:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution).
  • Children of adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
  • 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.

Warning: Taking one full dose of Potassium Iodide can provide protection to the thyroid gland for up to 24 hours. Therefore, taking more than the recommended dose is unnecessary, as it will not offer additional protection and may cause adverse effects, including illness or death.

FDA Potassium Iodide Guidance

FDA Guidance Downloadable and Printable Document

The following guidance is offered by the FDA:

  • 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 the 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.
  • 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).

Here’s the FDA chart:

Potassium Iodide FDA Chart

Warning: DO NOT GIVE INFANTS, PREGNANT WOMEN, OR BREASTFEEDING WOMEN MORE THAN ONE DOSE OF Potassium Iodide

Who Should NOT take Potassium Iodide?

Some people should not take Potassium Iodide because the risks outweigh the benefits. According to the FDA, the following people should not take KI:

  • Persons with known iodine sensitivity
  • Persons with allergies to iodine, iodide, and shellfish
  • Individuals with dermatitis herpetiformis and hypocomplementemic vasculitis
  • 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. 

It is essential to exercise extreme caution if you have a seafood or shellfish allergy. While it does not mean that you are allergic or hypersensitive to iodine, there is a possibility of it. Therefore, it is recommended that you have the necessary supplies on hand to treat a life-threatening allergic reaction if you do decide to take Potassium Iodide. 

Please consult your situation with your healthcare professional if you are not 100% certain whether you should take Kl. Doing so now, before disaster strikes, will help you to decide the appropriate disaster response for you and your family. 

Lastly, individuals who have had their thyroid gland surgically removed will not derive any benefits from taking Potassium Iodide.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Potassium Iodide?

If you take the correct dosage and are not allergic to iodine, you shouldn’t have any negative side effects. The possible issues are:

  • 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)
  • In addition to common allergic reactions, severe symptoms of an allergic reaction requiring emergency medical attention may also occur. Some of these symptoms include fever, joint pains, swelling of various body parts (face, lips, tongue, throat, hands, or feet), difficulty breathing, speaking, or swallowing, as well as wheezing or shortness of breath.

Where to Buy Potassium Iodide Pills / Tablets?

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links that I may receive a small commission for at no cost to you if you choose to purchase a product through a link on this page

Only the best will do when it comes to saving your life and the lives of your loved ones. Therefore, only use approved brands and products whenever possible. With that, the use of table salt, iodine-rich foods, and low-dose supplements do not contain enough iodine to be effective. 

When it comes to where to buy Potassium Iodide, the easiest and quickest place to purchase your Potassium Iodide pills/tablets is Amazon.

With that, there are two FDA-recommended Potassium Iodide products available on Amazon:

iOSAT Potassium Iodide tablets, 130mg (Amazon Link)

iOSTAT Amazon Price Check Link

If you are looking for an FDA-approved brand of Potassium Iodide tablets for radiation protection, iOSAT is a reliable option. These 130mg tablets are the only full-strength adult tablets for radiation protection that have passed all FDA tests for purity, quality, safety, and efficacy. These tablets have a 10-year shelf-life and are Made in the USA. 

ThyroSafe Potassium Iodide tablets, 65mg (Amazon Link)

ThyroSafe Amazon Price Check Link

ThyroSafe tablets, an FDA-approved brand, are an effective option for radiation protection against radioactive iodine. These individually sealed, 65 mg doses are easy to divide and accurately dose for both children and adults. The tablets’ easy dosing allows for 1 pill for children and 2 pills for adults. Additionally, the tablets have a 10-year shelf life, ensuring long-lasting reliability. ThyroSafe tablets are manufactured in France.

The Bottom Line on Potassium Iodide

In today’s world, the potential for nuclear emergencies is a reality we can’t ignore. As preparedness-minded people, it is essential to be prepared with the right tools and knowledge to protect ourselves and our loved ones in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Potassium Iodide (KI) is an essential survival supply that can help protect the thyroid from the harmful effects of radiation. It is crucial to understand how to use KI correctly and to take it at the right time to ensure its effectiveness. 

Don’t let a nuclear emergency catch you off guard. Be prepared with the right supplies, including these maximum strength, made in the USA, Potassium Iodide iOSTAT tablets.

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