To protect the thyroid from harmful radiation poisoning following a nuclear attack, potassium iodide tablets should be taken by people who have been exposed to, or might be exposed to radioactivity. Abbreviated by the initials KI, potassium iodide is a “stable” iodine required by the thyroid to manufacture important hormones regulating metabolism and growth.
Because the thyroid is vulnerable to radioactive contamination, whether someone drinks, eats, or breathes something that is radioactive, the safe level of iodine found in KI tablets is able to absorb and neutralize radioactive particles that will damage the thyroid gland and cause serious illness potentially leading to death.
However, consuming potassium iodide tablets following a nuclear event will not block radioactivity from entering the body. Instead, it protects the thyroid gland from the detrimental effects of radioactive iodine and reduce the risk of suffering severe metabolic disorders. Also, be aware that if radioactive iodine is not present, using KI will not prevent radiation sickness.
Because the thyroid gland is unable to differentiate between radioactive and stable iodine, it simply absorbs both substances, an action that allows KI tablets to satiate the gland with stable iodine while inhibiting the ability of radioactive iodine to stop the secretion of hormones essential to health.
How well potassium iodide tablets work to prevent radioactive iodide poisoning from affecting thyroid gland functioning depends on several factors:
Infants, unborn fetuses and individuals who have below average iodine amounts in their thyroid glands are most susceptible to the health effects of radioactive iodine. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration suggests that people over 18 with healthy thyroids should ingest one 130 milligram KI tablet daily or two milliliters of potassium iodide in liquid form. Children over age three and under 18 need to take one milliliter liquid dose of KI or one 65 milligram tablet each day until the threat of radioactive iodide exposure has passed.
One dose of KI will prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodide for 24 hours. Taking larger doses is not recommended because this may cause adverse reactions, sickness and even death.
The Ready Store and Be Prepared (emergency essentials) are two websites where you can buy KI tablets before a nuclear event occurs. IOSAT radiation protection tablets are the most popular brand of KI tablets and liquids purchased by those who want to remain prepared and protected in case of a nuclear attack. IOSAT is available in packets of 14 tablets each containing 130 milligrams of potassium iodide.
These packets can be stored in a bug-out bag or emergency survival kits and have a shelf-life of seven years. In 1982, the FDA approved the IOSAT KI tablets; the only company manufacturing KI tablets to have that distinction.
Users reviewing IOSAT potassium iodide express satisfaction with the tablets, as well as a feeling of being safer knowing they can rely on something to protect them from possible radiation poisoning.
Another brand of KI tablets is Thyrosafe, which offers packets of 20 tablets each containing 65 milligrams of stable potassium iodide. These would be convenient to have if children or infants might be exposed to radiation following a nuclear disaster event.
One vital thing to remember about potassium iodide tablets is that they will not “cure” a case of radiation sickness caused by radioactive iodide. If someone is already suffering from ill health due to radiation exposure, taking these tablets will not reduce or eliminate the disease.