Last Updated: February 7th, 2003

Comparison of Anti-Radiation Pills & Potassium Iodide (KI) and Potassium Iodate (KIO3)...

Since 1999 with offering here the Potassium Iodide (KI) & KIO3 formulations currently available on the market, and showing the 'do it yourself' alternatives, too, we are often asked for our 'short answer' or personal opinion of what's really the best and how much should be acquired. (BTW, we are the Largest Direct-To-Public Source Since 1999 & Supplier to both Federal Agencies, Embassies & U.S.M.C.! )

Bottom Line: Be assured that they all work, as all the formulations listed below here have the required 100mg Iodine for an adult dose and with similiar bioavailability, and while the in-depth Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ is lengthy in its exploration of the various potential scenarios requiring different strategies, and quantities of pre-stocked supplies, here's our most concise recommendations:

Acquiring some bulk Potassium Iodide (KI), to create a Potassium Iodide (KI) solution, is the cheapest per dose, but not everyone wants to fool with the mixing up of a Potassium Iodide (KI) solution. (Especially now with the introduction of our relatively cheap KI and KIO3 tablets.) However, even for those who will mix and use a Potassium Iodide (KI) solution, and we show how on the FAQ, we still strongly recommend they also acquire some tablets, too, both for their inherent portability and ease of immediate dosing upon the first alert of a nuclear emergency.

Among the KI tablet offerings, our KI4U™ brand of KI is clearly the 'best buy', price-wise, at well less than a quarter per adult dose, including shipping. More importantly, though, because this KI formulation requires the taking of two tablets for a complete adult daily dose, we can then more easily dose our children, too, as they will always require less than a full adult dose. (Ease of quickly and accurately dosing children is essential as it's always our children who are at the greatest risk from radioiodine and its effects.)

For instance, children above the age of 3, who require exactly half of an adult dose (see chart below), can simply take one single/whole tablet of KI or KIO3 for their required full daily dose. In comparison, most other Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets offer only single full adult strength tablet doses, and thus dosing children with them requires effectively splitting and, for younger children, even quartering or 'eighthing' those already tiny tablets. And, they are also quite bitter, especially with powder fragments. (Our brand of KI would also require splitting of their coated tablets for children under the age of three down to one month olds.)

The 3X's more expensive one-tablet-per-adult dose formulations make it much harder to quickly and properly dose the majority of children, all those above the age of 3. Both, because of the difficulty of quickly and accurately splitting tablets and attaining the proper dose amount and then the need to successfully dilute or mask the inherent bitterness of Potassium Iodide (KI) before it will ever be swallowed by a child.

This is especially important because that initial first dose is so time sensitive to get it into the bloodstream quickly upon that first alert. Consider, too, that most everyone concerned would also likely be under much stress in a very tense and urgent developing nuclear emergency. Perhaps, too, not even at home, but in your car, or elsewhere, at the time you first hear 'the news'.

Finally, to clear up any confusion between KI and KIO3, understand that...

  • Both deliver the required 100mg of elemental iodine for an adult thyroid-blocking dose. (The tablet mg size of the KIO3 is always larger simply because it takes more KIO3 to deliver the same amount of iodine as is in less KI.)
  • The 1999 World Health Organization 'Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents' shows both Potassium Iodide (KI) and Potassium Iodate (KIO3) as equals in regards to their bio-availability and efficient uptake of stable iodine for thyroid-blocking. That report also states: "There is no decisive difference in shelf life between KIO3 and KI."
  • Both our KI and KIO3 contain 200 tablets sufficient for 100 adult daily doses, or 200 child (age 3+) doses, etc.
  • KIO3 is non-bitter and would require less masking and/or diluting to administer partial tablets to children under the age of three.

Of course, either will work, and the choice is simply selecting whichever formulation you personally find most convenient, economical and currently available.

Dosing chart from the recently updated 1999 World Health Organization:
Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents

Age Group Mass of iodine
Mass of KI
Mass of KIO3
Fraction of
100 mg Iodine
Adults and adolescents
(over 12 years)
100 130 170 1
(3-12 years)
50 65 85 1/2
(1 month to 3 years)
25 32 42 1/4
(birth to 1 month)
12.5 16 21 1/8

The new suggested FDA guidelines below are voluntary and show similar dosing recommendations and the FDA has no problem with the WHO guidelines shown above. In fact, in regards to the difference between the two for designating the top ages for children dosages, the FDA states: "For the sake of logistical simplicity in the dispensing and administration of KI to children, FDA recommends a 65-mg dose as standard for all school-age children while allowing for the adult dose (130 mg, 2 X 65 mg tablets) in adolescents approaching adult size."

Threshold Thyroid Radioactive Exposures and
Recommended Doses of KI for Different Risk Groups


Predicted Thyroid exposure(cGy)

KI dose (mg)

# of 130 mg

# of 65 mg

Adults over 40 yrs





Adults over 18 through 40 yrs


Pregnant or lactating women

> 5

Adoles. over 12 through 18 yrs*




Children over 3 through 12 yrs

Over 1 month through 3 years




Birth through 1 month




*Adolescents approaching adult size (> 70 kg) should receive the full adult dose (130 mg).

KI and KIO3 are both equivalent in their effectiveness, number of doses per bottle and cost. If you have small children under three that will require splitting of tablets, then the KIO3 would be easier to quickly dose them, but KI can be made to work, too, with masking and/or dilution. Otherwise, I'd suggest getting the KI as there is more available published information about using it here in the USA from the FDA, etc.

Regarding 'how much to stock':
We recommend a minimum of at least 100 daily doses for every person you'll be ultimately responsible for protecting. That's one bottle of 100 doses per adult and one bottle for every two children. While you would only need to take it for as long as you are at risk of inhaling or ingesting radioactive iodine, which would likely be well less than 100 days, nobody can say in advance exactly how long it could be or if/when evacuation to a safer area could be guaranteed. Also, there are no guarantees if it was ever needed that it would be needed only once. (Also, only you can decide if it would be prudent to be prepared for extended family, friends, and neighbors, too. It's unlikely you'll ever have too much --- when it's needed! Nor will you likely be able to easily get any more!) -Shane Connor
If any of the above still leaves questions (or you were looking for KI to treat toenail fungus instead), write Shane Connor or call me at (830) 672-8734.

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