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Thyroid and Water Filters

What is Really in your Drinking Water?

Dr. Kasia Kines, Nutritionist, CEO and founder of EBV Educational Institute
Virtual clinic serving the US and globally
[email protected]

If you have concerns about your tap water, you are not alone (Barrett, 2014). What you can find in your drinking water is not just the pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals, but you should also expect prescription medications, VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which are found e.g. in paint), chlorine, and fluoride, to name the few. All pose health risks, and so not having water filters is no longer an option.

What Type of Water Filters to Choose?

There are many water filtrations systems out there. You just have to look around, do your research and pick what is most appropriate for your household, but do pick something. Pick a filtration system above a purification system. Purified water is not as healthy as filtered water. Purified water undergoes reverse osmosis or distillation, which strip everything out of your water – not only the contaminants, but also the healthy minerals. For that reason, I do not recommend either of these. Some of good filters are PF2 Berkey and Nutrametrix Pure H20 filter. Both filter out a substantial percentage of fluoride as well, which is very important for your thyroid, as you will find out later in this story. There are some other good brands on the market, and at the bottom of this blog, I will share with you the filter I have been very happy with for a few years now.

Let’s Talk about Your Thyroid

There are 4 halogens that are involved in thyroid function, and two of them are involved in your drinking water.

1. Iodine is paramount for your thyroid. Iodine deficiency can cause goiter and in severe cases, even cretinism.

2. Bromine is another halogen, but this halogen can impair your thyroid function as it competes with iodine, and we seldom hear about it, and we should. You see, iodine traditionally added to the bread making process has now been replaced by bromine, and it does not even have to be listed on the food ingredient list, so you probably have some bromine exposure regularly, even daily and do not even know it. You will see a higher-end bakery listing “unbromated” unbleached flour to let you know they took an extra effort to avoid this halogen.

3. Chlorine is of particular interest to me because of its detrimental effect on thyroid similarly to bromine and fluoride. Even most basic water filters like Brita will remove chlorine, so that is good news. However, what you may not appreciate is the fact that you get a substantial level of exposure to chlorine just from taking a daily shower. In one study the level of vapors inhaled from taking a shower was almost identical to the straight chlorine inhalation (Jo, Weisel, & Lioy, 1990). It is now well established that exposure to chlorine from shower is toxic. There are claims that a 10- minute shower is equivalent of drinking 8 glasses or even a gallon of chlorinated water, but while I can find scientists quoting this, I am unable to find research to back it up at this time, so this claim remains anecdotal. Inhaled chlorine, as in a shower exposure, forms chloroform (Weisel, 1990), a dangerous chemical linked to cancer (EPA).

Microbiome, Thyroid Function and Chlorine?

There is one more aspect that no one seems to be looking at: our microbiome. Chlorine is added to water to kill pathogens. I suspect that chloroform will also target the bacteria living in your gut, including the good ones. Could it then work as a mild antibiotic? Keep in mind that a percentage of a healthy thyroid function depends on a healthy microbiome. According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, “the intestines (…) convert about 20% of T4 (inactive form of thyroid hormone) into T3 (the active one), but only in the presence of enough healthy gut bacteria.” Chlorine helps by killing pathogens that would otherwise land in our drinking water. However, you just do not want to either inhale it during your shower or drink it in your morning coffee or tea. Perhaps research will catch up in a few years and we will understand the chlorine-microbiome interactions better.

4. Fluoride 

is another halogen that competes with iodine and can affect your thyroid. Nationalized fluoridation in the US started in 1951 as a campaign to reduce dental carries in children and now fluoride is in 75% of our municipal water. 97% of European countries are NOT fluoridating their drinking water, and we are exposed to more fluoride than all other countries on this planet combined. Fluoride is not a popular water addition anywhere except in the USA. I talk more about fluoride in my two podcasts: one on Thyroid and Fluoride and the other on Brain Development and Fluoridation, so feel free to learn more there. Not only has the EPA added fluoride to the list of developmental neurotoxins (it interferes with a normal brain development), but the National Research Council has determined that it is as also an endocrine disruptor – causing harm specifically to our thyroid gland. Check your municipal water companies. I did – Baltimore has fluoridated water. Bad news: unlike chlorine, only some filters will remove fluoride and only percentage of it. And to date, I have not found a shower filter that removes it either.

What is the bottom line? You need a water filter, or you will be the filter. Support your liver AND your thyroid!


Water FiltersHere is my favorite water filter at this time: Pure H20:

We used the kitchen countertop PureH20 water filter in our Baltimore house and loved it. When we renovated the kitchen, we used the soap dispenser hole to install the spout there and installed the filter under the sink. That was even better! In our new home in Kenmore, we have a pull out faucet, and there is no hole for the soap dispenser, so we could not use this filter at all, unfortunately. At this time, we use Berkey – it is perfect when you rent and do not want any installations and if you want to travel with your filter water.

What is good about this water filter:

  • Helps maintain healthy pH levels of water
  • Has a two-stage filtration system: a combination of carbon filtration, ion exchange and sub-micron filtration
  • The first cartridge reduces sediment, tiny microscopic particles, and chlorine taste and odor
  • The second cartridge features a complex ion exchange process that enhances the mineral balance of water while reducing the lead
  • It reduces over 60 commonly occurring contaminants including chlorine, lead, mercury, cysts, chlorination byproducts, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and gasoline additives (see the complete list of contaminants on the website above)
  • It removes 40% up to 60% fluoride, 2 out of 5 existing isotopes: calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride (using the activated coconut shell carbon) – this may reduce fluoride level to below .5 ppm
  • The initial cost is below $100
  • Installation is simple but I did need my plumber to put it on the faucet
  • The filter is replaced every 6 months and NOT longer (you do not want the filter to start growing bacteria)
  • If your faucet is incompatible (see some photos on the website linked above), there is an option of a separate spout that you can purchase and install in place of a soap dispenser
  • The shower filter is so easy to install and replace that even I can do it

If you need a good portable filter, look into PF2 Berkey models- you can literally put it on your counter top and move around with you.

 

Barrett, J. R. (2014). Chemical contaminants in drinking water: where do we go from here? Environ Health Perspect, 122(3), A80. doi: 10.1289/ehp.122-A80

Jo, W. K., Weisel, C. P., & Lioy, P. J. (1990). Routes of chloroform exposure and body burden from showering with chlorinated tap water. Risk Anal, 10(4), 575-580.

Kharrazian, D. Why do I still have thyroid symptoms? When my lab results are normal. 2010.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Chloroform. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/chlorofo.html  

Dr. Kasia Kines, Nutritionist, CEO and founder of EBV Educational Institute
Virtual clinic serving the US and globally
[email protected]

2 Comments

  1. Posted on December 16, 2015 at 11:38 PM by Sam Jones

    I agree with your point, Kasia. Having a water filter is definitely not an option today! Reading a lot about the contaminants in tap water makes me ask myself, how much have I been taking them? That’s so gross and alarming to think about.

    Thanks for a great article here. Cheers!

  2. Posted on January 30, 2016 at 4:30 PM by Kasia Kines

    Thank you Sam. A good water filter make a difference!

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