Iodine is a trace mineral that is found naturally in the body. Your body needs it to convert food into energy (metabolism), to obtain normal thyroid function and to aid in the body's production of thyroid hormones.
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.
Here are some of the adverse effects of iodine deficiency:
1. It can cause goiter.
Goiter happens when insufficient supply of iodine causes the thyroid glands to expand in its 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 fatigue, depression, low tolerance to cold, constipation, drying of the skin and hair, muscle cramps, difficulty to concentrate, body aches, excessive sleepiness, weight gain, and swelling of the legs.
Severe hypothyroidism can also lead to an enlarged heart, a drop in body temperature, 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 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 35 percent of the world's children are deficient in iodine.
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.