Ever wondered what are the effects of iodine deficiency on the body?

Iodine is a trace mineral that is found naturally in the body. Your body needs it to convert food into energy (metabolism), obtain normal thyroid function and aid in the body’s production of thyroid hormones.

Iodine is an essential mineral to maintain metabolic functions

Trace minerals are minerals that your body requires in small quantities. But even if these requirements are small, they cannot be neglected because they are essential for the normal functioning of your systems. 

Iodine, for example, is necessary for the normal brain development and physical growth of infants and children.

Understanding Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency is a common health problem that can be caused by a lack of iodine in the body.

Essentially, it manifests among people who don’t get enough iodine in their diet, which can lead to an insufficient amount of iodine hormones being produced. 

This means that they are not getting the necessary amount of iodine needed for their bodies to function properly.

Iodine deficiency can cause a wide array of symptoms and health problems, such as fatigue, weakness, cold intolerance, anemia, poor appetite and weight loss.

To prevent Iodine deficiency and its associated health issues it is important to make sure you get enough iodine in your diet.

Foods such as dairy products, eggs and seafood are all good sources of iodine. Supplements may also be taken if you find that you are not getting enough iodine from your diet alone.

By ensuring that you are getting the required amount of iodine in your diet you will be able to reduce the risk of developing iron deficiency and its associated problems.

Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency is a condition caused by not enough iodine in the diet. By knowing its symptoms, you can take the appropriate steps to prevent it from progressing.

Iodine is found in many foods and is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency include the following:

  • an underactive thyroid
  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • dry skin
  • goiter (enlargement of the thyroid)
  • hair loss
  • mental impairment

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • muscle weakness
  • decreased fertility
  • cold intolerance
  • depression
  • slow heart rate
  • high cholesterol levels
  • constipation
  • joint pain

People who are deficient in iodine may experience symptoms related to their body’s inability to produce enough hormones. This includes a decrease in energy levels and difficulty concentrating.

Iodine deficiency can cause us to feel tiredness

It is important to make sure that your diet contains iodine-rich foods such as seafood, dairy products, eggs, iodized salt, and fortified bread products to prevent an iodine deficiency.

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of iodine deficiency it is important to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Now that you know the symptoms of this condition, let’s now dive deeper into its effects on the body. Here are some of the adverse effects of iodine deficiency:

1. It can cause goiter.

Goiter happens when an insufficient supply of iodine causes the thyroid glands to expand in their attempt to produce thyroid hormones.

It is manifested by a swelling in the neck, but it can sometimes go unnoticed especially when the swelling is not big enough to be detected. 

2. It can cause hyperthyroidism.

If iodine deficiency is not addressed after many months, the thyroid stops producing normal levels of thyroid hormones and a condition known as hypothyroidism occurs.

Hypothyroidism can be signified by the following:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • low tolerance to cold
  • constipation
  • drying of the skin and hair
  • muscle cramps
  • difficulty concentrating
  • body aches
  • excessive sleepiness
  • weight gain
  • swelling of the legs

Severe hypothyroidism can also lead to an enlarged heart, a drop in body temperature, a slow heart rate, heart failure and the accumulation of fluid around the lungs. 

If you have any of these symptoms, you may consult your doctor for a proper checkup and diagnosis.

2. It increases the risks of birth defects and miscarriages in unborn children.

A deficiency in iodine during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, birth defects and stillbirth.  Some of the consequences of inadequate iodine supply during pregnancy include mental retardation, deafness and growth problems.

Babies who are deficient in iodine may also suffer impaired brain development or death.  Iodine is necessary for the normal development of the brains of little children.

3. It increases the risk of brain damage.

Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of brain damage, poor IQ and learning disabilities in children.  According to the World Health Organization, almost 72% percent of the world’s total population is deficient in iodine. 

Lack of iodine can affect our brain health

Adults who are deficient in this trace mineral can also suffer from neurological defects and poor mental function.

These are some of the adverse effects of iodine deficiency.  You can actually prevent this by using iodized salt as a regular part of your diet.  Other food sources of iodine include cod, sea foods and cow’s milk.

4. It can lead to weight gain

Iodine deficiency may lead to weight gain. This is because a deficiency occurs when your body does not get enough of the mineral iodine, which is necessary for the production of hormones in the thyroid.

If there is an underactive thyroid due to an iodine deficiency, it can lead to increased appetite and therefore weight gain. It is important to ensure that you are getting enough daily iodine in order for your body to function at its best and prevent unwanted weight gain caused by an iodine deficiency.

Thus, it is important to make sure you are eating foods with high levels of iodine to help prevent this from happening.

Eating foods like sea vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and seafood can all provide your body with the necessary amount of iodine needed on a daily basis.

5. It can manifest in thinning of hair

Iodine deficiency is a condition in which the body does not have sufficient levels of iodine. This can lead to thinning of hair as a result of the body not being able to produce enough hormones for healthy hair growth.

Iodine plays an important role in metabolism, and without adequate amounts of iodine, it becomes difficult for the body to properly synthesize proteins and hormones necessary for proper hair growth.

Iodine-deficient patients may notice their hair becoming dryer and more brittle, as well as experiencing increased shedding or balding patches.

If you suspect that you are suffering from iodine deficiency, it is important to consult your doctor immediately in order to determine if your iodine levels are low and discuss appropriate treatment options.

How is Iodine Deficiency Treated?

Iodine deficiency is treated by increasing the amount of iodine intake in the body. This can be done by consuming foods that contain iodine such as dairy products, eggs, fish and seaweed.

In addition, adding iodine to table salt is a great way to increase iodine intake. Iodine is a mineral that helps make enough thyroid hormones for the body, and adding it to table salt can help ensure people consume adequate amounts of this important nutrient.

Oats is superfood that can treat iodine deficiency

Other foods containing iodine include mushrooms, oats, cranberries and potatoes. Supplements are also available for those who may not get enough iodine from dietary sources.

For severe cases of iodine deficiency, doctors may prescribe medication that contains iodine or recommend other treatments depending on the individual’s health status and needs.

These are the various effects of iodine deficiency on the body. Always remember that you should never wait for the symptoms to manifest.

The best way to prevent it is by having a balanced and healthy diet. To learn how to do this, please visit our food blog posts for more. 


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