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Potassium Iodide Vs Sodium Iodide  

Potassium Iodide Vs Sodium Iodide

Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment. 


While iodine is essential for many bodily functions ranging from assisting the thyroid gland for proper functioning to promoting immunity to fight against infections, it's quite tricky to differentiate the effects of potassium iodide vs sodium iodide.  Both are the most prevalent forms of iodine and each has its own significance in the human body. 

In this article, we’ll talk about potassium iodide vs sodium iodide on the basis of their health benefits and uses. But before we get into the benefits of potassium iodide and sodium iodide in detail, it’s worth knowing the basics of both iodine forms a little bit more. So, let’s get started.  

Table of contents 

  • What is potassium iodide? 
  • What is sodium iodide? 
  • Potassium iodide vs sodium iodide: benefits and uses 
  • Final words 

What is potassium iodide?

Potassium iodide, chemically known as KI ("K" refers to potassium where "I" refers to iodine), is a stable form of iodine that contains around 24% of potassium and 76% of iodine. This potent chemical compound of iodine has many health potentials and is widely used as a medication or dietary supplement. It doesn’t come under radioactive iodine; rather it can protect the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine (1-131).  

What is sodium iodide? 

Sodium iodide, chemically known as NaI (“Na” refers to sodium where “I” refers to iodine), is one of the most prevalent sources of iodine that comes as a water-soluble ionic salt, containing an equivalent amount of sodium and iodide. It is relatively less toxic in nature in comparison to iodine and can be easily handled and stored as a crystalline salt. This inorganic salt has many uses in medicine, especially as a potent dietary supplement for the treatment and prevention of iodine deficiency. 

Several industries such as solar cells also need this salt as well, which is why it is industrially produced by reacting sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with acidic iodides to meet the desired demands. 

Potassium iodide vs sodium iodide: benefits and uses 

Iodine is essential for the human body for normal growth and health. It is also required for the proper function of the thyroid gland. Both potassium iodide and sodium iodide are forms of iodine and are used as an effective dietary supplement to prevent and treat iodine deficiency in people who do not get enough iodine through their diet and might have a requirement for an extra support. 


Apart from the use as a supplementary iodine, potassium iodide has a number of other uses in medicine, including: 

As an expectorant - Potassium iodide can help manage symptoms of chronic pulmonary diseases, particularly those complicated by mucus such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. It has a significant ability to break up and loosen mucus in the airways. As a result, people with a long-term lung condition can cough up stored mucus and breathe easily.   

In the treatment of overactive thyroid - Potassium iodide is widely used in the treatment of overactive thyroid, medically known as hyperthyroidism. Along with other antithyroid medications, it is used to prepare the thyroid gland for partly or fully surgical removal which is medically called preoperative thyroidectomy. 

Thyroid protection in radiation emergencies - Potassium iodide has the potential to protect the thyroid gland in certain radiation exposure emergencies. Some radiation emergencies, such as accidents in a nuclear power plant, may cause the release of radioactive iodine in the atmosphere and might enter the body through the mouth and nose. The thyroid gland, which is situated in the neck and plays vital roles in many bodily functions, can absorb the radioactive iodine known as internal contamination. The absorption of radioactive iodine at high levels increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer in all age groups including adults, children, as well as infants. 

While radioactive iodine and potassium iodide both are forms of iodine, potassium iodide is not radioactive in nature and is well tolerated in the human body. The thyroid gland absorbs both iodine forms. When potassium iodide is given before or just after exposure to radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland absorbs the potassium iodide in optimal amounts and no room is left for the radioactive iodine. This is the way potassium iodide can help protect the thyroid gland from absorbing the harmful radioactive iodine and reduce the risk of radiation damage or thyroid cancer. 

For thyrotoxic crisis - In thyrotoxic crisis, also known as thyroid storm, excess amounts of thyroid hormones are released suddenly which is life-threatening. Potassium iodide can help shrink the thyroid gland and reduce the production of its hormones. 

In some infections - Potassium iodide is used to treat and manage some infections such as sporotrichosis, a fungal infection caused by a type of fungus called sporothrix. 

Final words

While both potassium iodide and sodium iodide are used as iodine supplements to prevent and treat iodine deficiency in populations who do not get enough iodine through their diets and may require more iodine through supplementary means, potassium iodide has many other uses in medicine. 

If we compare potassium iodide vs sodium iodide on the basis of their health benefits and uses, potassium iodide has been considered more potent than sodium iodide. Protection of the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, expectorant, preoperative thyroidectomy, thyrotoxic crisis or thyroid storm, and infections such as sporotrichosis are some of the medical areas where potassium iodide is widely used, and not sodium iodide.

Here you can see Vorst’s Potassium Iodide 800 mcg Vegan Capsules.

Important resources: 

  1. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1823/potassium-iodide-oral/details#:~:text=Potassium%20iodide%20is%20used%20to,is%20known%20as%20an%20expectorant.
  2. https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-iodized-salt
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/potassium-iodide-oral-route/precautions/drg-20065546?p=1
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/sodium-iodide-oral-route-injection-route-intravenous-route/proper-use/drg-20066037?p=1#:~:text=Sodium%20iodide%20is%20used%20to,thyroid%20gland%20can%20function%20properly.
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/emergencies/ki.htm
  6. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/potassium-iodide-an-antidote-for-radiation-exposure
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/iodine-uses#side-effects
  8. https://www.rxlist.com/iodine/supplements.htm