The human body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. The body needs iodine but cannot make it. The needed iodine must come from the diet or as a supplement. As a rule, there is very little iodine in food, unless it has been added during processing, which is now the case with salt. Most of the world’s iodine is found in the ocean, where it is concentrated by sea life, especially seaweed. So, are you getting enough iodine in your food?
Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Getting enough iodine is important for everyone, especially infants and women who are pregnant, Iodine in food is a mineral.
Issues iodine deficiency can cause
Swelling in the Neck – Swelling in the front of the neck is the most common symptom of an iodine deficiency. It occurs when your thyroid gland is forced to make thyroid hormones when there is a low supply of iodine in the body.
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes thyroid hormones upon receiving a signal from the thyroid-stimulating hormone. When blood levels of TSH rise, the thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. However, when your body is low in iodine, it can’t make enough of them.
To compensate, the thyroid gland works harder to try to make more. This causes the cells to grow and multiply. Fortunately, most cases can be treated by increasing your iodine intake. However, if a goiter hasn’t been treated for many years, it might cause permanent thyroid damage.
Other conditions to watch out for
Unexpected Weight Gain – Low iodine levels may slow your metabolism and encourage food to be stored as fat, rather than be burned as energy. This may lead to weight gain. This is because thyroid hormones help control the speed of your metabolism, which is the process by which your body converts food into energy and heat.
When your thyroid hormone levels are low, your body burns fewer calories at rest. Unfortunately, this means more calories from the foods you eat are stored as fat. Adding more iodine to your diet may help reverse the effects of a slow metabolism, as it can help your body make more thyroid hormones.
Fatigue and Weakness – Fatigue and weakness are also common symptoms of an iodine deficiency. Low iodine levels may leave you feeling tired, sluggish and weak. This is because your body needs the mineral to make energy.
In fact, some studies have found that nearly 80% of people with low thyroid hormone levels, which occur in cases of iodine deficiency, feel tired, sluggish and weak. These symptoms occur because thyroid hormones help the body make energy.
When thyroid hormone levels are low, the body can’t make as much energy as it usually does. This may cause your energy levels to plummet and leave you feeling weak.
Hair loss – Thyroid hormones help control the growth of hair follicles. When your thyroid hormone levels are low, your hair follicles may stop regenerating. For this reason, people with an iodine deficiency may also suffer from hair loss.
Studies have found that low thyroid hormone levels only seem to cause hair loss in those with a family history of hair loss. If you experience hair loss because of an iodine deficiency, getting enough of this mineral may help correct your thyroid hormone levels and stop hair loss.
Basically, an iodine deficiency may prevent hair follicles from regenerating. Fortunately, getting enough iodine can help correct hair loss that occurs due to having a lack of iodine.
Dry, Flaky Skin – Dry, flaky skin may affect many people with an iodine deficiency. Thyroid hormones, which contain iodine, help your skin cells regenerate. When thyroid hormone levels are low, this regeneration doesn’t occur as often, possibly leading to dry, flaky skin. So, an iodine deficiency can cause you to sweat.
Additionally, thyroid hormones help the body regulate sweat. People with lower thyroid hormone levels, such as those with an iodine deficiency, tend to sweat less than people with normal thyroid hormone levels.
Given that sweat helps keep your skin moist and hydrated, a lack of sweat may be another reason why dry, flaky skin is a common symptom of iodine deficiency.
Feeling Colder Than Usual – Feeling cold is a common symptom of an iodine deficiency.Studies have found that over 80% of people with low thyroid hormone levels may feel more sensitive to cold temperatures than usual.
Since iodine is used to make thyroid hormones, an iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid hormone levels to plummet.
Given that thyroid hormones help control the speed of your metabolism, low thyroid hormone levels may cause it to slow down. A slower metabolism generates less heat, which may cause you to feel colder than.
Also, thyroid hormones help boost the activity of your brown fat, a type of fat that specializes in generating heat. This means that low thyroid hormone levels, which may be caused by an iodine deficiency, could prevent brown fat from doing its job.
Changes in Heart Rate – Your heart rate is a measure of how many times your heart beats per minute. It may be affected by your iodine levels. Too little of this mineral could cause your heart to beat slower than usual, while too much of it could cause your heart to beat faster than usual.
A severe iodine deficiency may cause an abnormally slow heart rate. This could make you feel weak, fatigued, dizzy and possibly cause you to faint.
Trouble Learning and Remembering – An iodine deficiency may affect your ability to learn and remember things. A study including over 1,000 adults found that those with higher thyroid hormone levels performed better on learning and memory tests, compared to those with lower thyroid hormone levels.
Thyroid hormones help your brain grow and develop. That’s why an iodine deficiency, which is required to make thyroid hormones, can reduce brain development.
In fact, studies have found that the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls long-term memory, appears to be smaller in people with low thyroid hormone levels.
Problems During Pregnancy – Pregnant women are at a high risk of iodine deficiency. This is because they need to consume enough to meet their own daily needs, as well as the needs of their growing baby. The increased demand for iodine continues throughout lactation, as babies receive iodine through breast milk.
Not consuming enough iodine throughout pregnancy and lactation may cause side effects for both the mother and baby. Mothers may experience symptoms of an underactive thyroid, such as a goiter, weakness, fatigue and feeling cold. Meanwhile, an iodine deficiency in infants may stunt physical growth and brain development. Furthermore, a severe iodine deficiency may increase the risk of stillbirth.
Heavy or Irregular Periods – Heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding may occur as a result of an iodine deficiency.Like most symptoms of iodine deficiency, this is also related to low levels of thyroid hormones, given that iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones.
Studies show women with low thyroid hormone levels experienced irregular menstrual cycles, compared to that of healthy women. Research also shows that women with low thyroid hormone levels experience more frequent menstrual cycles with heavy bleeding. This is because low thyroid hormone levels disrupt the signals of hormones that are involved in the menstrual cycle.
Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the most common cause of thyroid enlargement and goiter. Within a goiter, nodules can develop. Patients with a large goiter may experience symptoms of choking, especially when lying down, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. After reading this the question is, are you getting enough iodine in your food?