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Iodine Deficiency, Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Charles M. Carlsen

Published May 22, 2024
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Iodine is a mineral which is mostly found in different types of seafood. It causes the production of thyroid gland hormones, and this helps keep the thyroid healthy, controls your growth, and permits cell destruction repair.
When your body makes low amounts of iodine, the iodine that you have in your body will drop. It is estimated that up to 33% of the world's population are prone to iodine deficiency - a pathological condition. A decrease in an iodine amounts to a particular level you won't be able to secrete thyroid hormone and therefore will develop a deficient condition that is called hypothyroidism. This article will offer insight into the causes, signs, and possible treatments of iodine deficiency.

Iodine and Its Deficiency

Before we go down the tracks of iodine deficiency, we need to know what iodine is and why it is essential.
Iodine is an element which comes from the soil on Earth. Iodine is the key element in making thyroid hormones in the body. Iodine is not synthesized in the body itself; it is to be obtained from food consumption. Firstly, we shall look at various means of getting iodine, which will be identified during the process.
Iodine deficiency is referred to as the most common cause of mental retardation during the early stage of a person's life. The thyroid gland can be iodine-depleted due to inadequate amount of iodine required for it to operate. Thyroid Gland is located right at the level of an Adam's peak and takes the shape of a butterfly. All thyroid hormones come in the T3 and T4 forms from the thyroid gland, which is harmonized with the pituitary gland. The thyroid thus supplies an indirect trigger to release the hormones. They are what your blood receives and subsequently circulates to the tissues of your body.
Thyroid hormones play an important role in your body as they help create energy more effectively, keep normal body heat, and make all organs operate properly. From pregnant women to their babies, thyroid hormones also need to be adequately elaborated for the normal development of bone and brain. Pregnant women who are iodine deficient can be predisposed to some grave consequences.
You can get iodine in the following ways:
  • It can be found in some foods: Seawater naturally has iodine. Foods like seaweed, shrimp, and other fish are high in iodine. Iodine is added to dairy products and other foods to make them healthier.
  • You can get iodine as a food supplement: Iodine can be found in a daily pill.
  • Iodine is added to table salt: Some parts of the US and Canada used to have a lot of people who didn't get enough iodine. The process of adding iodine to table salt began in 1924. Rates of not getting enough iodine went down.

Who is at risk of iodine deficiency?

Iodine deficiency occurs in every person regardless of the preceding decisions. On the other hand, extreme lack of iodine in the diets is more harmful to pregnant women or nursing women (so that they require more iodine) and kids, both unborn and birth.
Australia's environment only provides iodine in lower areas so this type of food you buy won't have much iodine. Such would imply people who indulge in these amounts will quickly exhaust their iodine intakes.
Because of this, iodine is added to most table salts to make them "iodized." All bread in the U.S. that isn't organic has had to have iodized salt in it; this has been happening since 2009. A lot of people will get enough iodine this way.
It's possible for some people not to get enough iodine because foods like fish that are high in it cost more. People who eat gourmet salt or organic bread may also lose iodine from their food.

Symptoms and Causes

Let's look at the symptoms and causes of Iodine deficiency in an individual. Firstly, we are going to look at the symptoms:
Symptoms
You can tell if you don't have enough iodine by how your thyroid feels.
One of the first signs that you might not get enough iodine is that your thyroid is getting bigger. This is a health problem known as goiter. As it tries to meet your body's need for more thyroid hormone, your thyroid slowly gets bigger. Some of the signs that you might have a goiter are:
  • Choking
  • Having trouble eating.
  • Not able to breathe.
The main reason for hypothyroidism is inadequate ingestion of iodine by the body. Having hypothyroidism means having an iodine deficient body and an injured thyroid gland that stops making the thyroid hormone. This, again, is also known by the name of the underactive thyroid gland It slows down the metabolic system in our body, thus the period of fatigue, flows, excess weight, and cold intolerance.
Other signs of not getting enough iodine are:
  • Not being able to have children.
  • Puffy skin.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Confusion.
  • Skin that is rough and dry.
  • Thin, coarse hair.
Causes
If you will not get enough iodine from your diet you will become ill due to iodine deficiency. The USA is quite fortunate in the fact that it rarely experiences iodine deficiency while this is typical for most third-world nations. Those who do not live beside the sea and also at above such elevation do not get sufficient amounts of iodine through their diet. It is true in some regions that iodine is not put into table salt.

Treatment of Iodine Deficiency

Treating an Iodine deficiency involves consuming more iodine. Let's take a look at some of the treatment plans below;
Eating foods high in iodine
If you don't get enough iodine in your food, you should eat more things that contain iodine. The following groups of people may not be getting enough iodine from their food:
  • Vegans 
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Nurses, 
  • People who don't use iodized salt, and 
  • People who don't eat many eggs, fish (seafood), or cheese.
Taking Iodine-containing supplements
If you don't get enough, your doctor may suggest you take iodine tablets/supplements to compensate for the deficiency.
The body can best absorb the iodine supplements, which are supplemented with potassium. Choosing products containing potassium iodide and potassium iodate elements would be beneficial.
However, kindly ensure you never consume 150 mcg of iodine tablets daily. Consequently, it can cause the absorption of excess iodine needed by the thyroid gland; thus, this is bad as it is because it may initiate thyrotoxicosis.
Accordingly, most people with iodine deficiency can undo the damage if they change their diet and take supplements laced with this chemical.
Medication
Infants and children diagnosed with hypothyroidism are instructed by their physicians to take the levothyroxine (Synthroid, Tirosint, and Levoxyl) medication instead. This way, it treats and supports recovery in the case of an underperforming thyroid.
Your dosage may be modified every 6-8 weeks until your thyroid hormone level stabilizes.
You have to strictly stick to the doctor's instructions and not overdose on any supplement. Before you start taking iodine supplements, see a doctor first if you've been diagnosed with any thyroid problems.
The majority of salt that Americans inhale is sourced from processed food items such as canned goods eaten ready-made. Then again, this iodized salt is not normally available or not widely available in processed cooked goods. One effect of the foods that are not rich in iodine is that they are mostly prepared using salt that isn't iodized.
Iodine is not available in other salts, such as kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, or fleur de sel.
The amount of iodine you need depends on your age, which varies daily. Each day, approximately, most people should take 150 micrograms of iodine. If you are pregnant or looking forward to trying, you should consult your doctor and take vitamins with 250 micrograms of iodine daily for your health. Firstly, take a look at the bottle to check nutrition. Make sure the prenatal vitamin you are taking has iodine in it. Ask your doctor if you should use a different iodine supplement because you could have insufficient levels.

Conclusion

Many people do not get enough iodine in their bodies. This is also valid in some Third World countries that fail to meet sufficient iodine in their foodstuff and soil.
Iodine makes the manufacture of thyroid hormones possible. The consequence of this is that being iodine-deficient may result in hypothyroidism or a disease characterized by the body failing to produce enough hormones.
If you have doubts about whether or not you are consuming enough iodine, seek advice from a medical specialist. Ultimately, they will focus on protruding glands or the slightest basis of iodine deficiency.

Sources

1. Cleveland Clinic. “Iodine Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, 7 July 2022,

2. Australia, Healthdirect. “Iodine Deficiency.” Www.healthdirect.gov.au, 26 Aug. 2021

3. “10 Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency.” Healthline, 11 Nov. 2017

4. Cirino, Erica. “What You Should Know about Iodine Deficiency.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 June 2017

5. ‌“Iodine Deficiency | American Thyroid Association.” Web.archive.org, 15 Mar. 2022,
Article by
Charles M. Carlsen
Hello! I'm Charles, As co-founder of Drsono, I contribute to the DRSONO blog, providing valuable insights and up-to-date information on ultrasound technology and diagnostic imaging.

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