iodine deficiency

7 symptoms of iodine deficiency you shouldn’t ignore

What is iodine?

Iodine is a vital nutrient found naturally in some foods. The human body requires this nutrient to produce thyroid hormones which in turn control crucial functions of our body.

This article is going to discuss 7 signs of iodine deficiency. Moreover, we will also tell you about some good sources of iodine. In addition, you can also learn interesting facts and health benefits of iodine. So, make sure you read this article till the end.


Facts about iodine

On a fine day in 1811, a chemist was doing experiments with seaweed ash when he discovered that when he added sulfuric acid to it, seaweed turned into a purple vapor. So, just like the majority of scientific discoveries, iodine was also discovered due to dumb luck.

French chemist Bernard Courtois was a genius for isolating iodine from other chemicals. He also caused the advent of morphine with the help of another French chemist Armand Seguin. But his story didn’t have a happy ending because Mr. Courtois passed away before he could patent his discovery with the French government and therefore his family didn’t get any monetary benefit after him.

There are some other fascinating facts about iodine such as:

  1. About 50 percent of the global supply of iodine is utilized in making medicine.
  2. Iodine can be extracted from oil wells, and it comes out in the form of brine water.
  3. Naturally, iodine occurs in sea mainly in the form of seawater or seaweed.


Health uses of iodine

As we mentioned above, almost half of the iodine is used to make medicine, but other than medicine, iodine also has plenty of other health benefits.

Conjunctivitis (pinkeye):

Iodine and povidone solution help reduce the chances of developing pink eye in newborn babies. Iodine-povidone can also help in reducing the risk of infection in the bloodstream from catheter use.


According to research, venous leg ulcers can be cured faster with the help of cadexomer iodine and compression. But that isn’t it; iodine is also useful in treating diabetic ulcers.

Iodine deficiency:

An iodine deficiency can cause a number of problems, but luckily an iodine supplementation is a good way to prevent iodine deficiency.

Radiation exposure:

Oral use of iodine has been found to be effective against radiation exposure to iodides in a state of emergency.

Thyroid problems:

Iodine supplementation can be useful in improving thyroid function of patients with thyroid disorders.

Water purification:

Drinking contaminated and unclean water is a major cause of death in developing and underdeveloped countries. Iodine has a powerful property to kill bacteria, viruses, and other parasites present in the water by altering the chemistry of their cells.


Iodine Deficiencies and the Thyroid

“…many parts of the world do not have enough iodine available through their diet, and iodine deficiency continues to be an important public health problem globally. Approximately 40% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency.” – American Thyroid Association

In most developed countries, the use of iodized salt has gotten rid of iodine deficiency. But in developing and underdeveloped countries, iodine deficiency is a significant cause of disability and even death.

Iodine plays a key role in thyroid functioning. The thyroid is a gland present just below Adam’s apple that looks like a butterfly and wraps around our windpipe. Thyroid contains two lobes that are connected together with the help of isthmus. Unless your thyroid glands are swollen, you cannot see or feel them from the outside.

Some key functions of thyroid hormones are:

  1. Brain function: Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the development of the brain especially during pregnancy. Iodine deficiency can lead to slow or improper brain development.
  2. Metabolism: Thyroid hormones are responsible for controlling our metabolism rate. They also control our body temperature, heart speed, bone mass, muscle and brain development, and brain functioning.


7 signs of iodine deficiency

1. Swelling in the neck

Swelling in the neck, also known as goiter, is a telltale sign of iodine deficiency. Goiters occur due to reduced levels of thyroid hormone in our blood and iodine is directly involved in making these hormones. So, when a body is low on iodine, it also lacks thyroid hormones. This causes the thyroid gland to work hard and results in an increase in its size.

2. Weight gain

Thyroid hormones help in maintaining a healthy metabolism rate. So, a slow metabolism will burn fewer calories, and you end up getting fat.

3. Fatigue

Every 8 in 10 people who have low levels of thyroid hormones experience being tired and fatigued. Thyroid hormones help regulate the proper supply of energy to the cells. So, with low thyroid hormones level, our body will not be getting proper energy, and this leads to you feeling tired and sluggish.

4. Hair loss

Thyroid hormones control the duty of stimulating hair growth. So, it is obvious that low thyroid hormone levels can lead to hair loss. However, there is still room for further research to establish a stable relationship between iodine deficiency and hair loss.

5. Dry skin

Thyroid hormones are also involved in the regeneration of skin cells. So, when our thyroid hormones are low, skin becomes dry due to the accumulation of dead skin cells and gives a flaky appearance. Thyroid hormones also regulate sweat production that keeps the skin hydrated. So, no sweat means drier skin.

6. Fluctuation in heart rate

Iodine deficiency causes noticeable changes in heart rate. In case of iodine deficiency, your heart rate might become slow or rapid. Low iodine can lead to a slower heart rate while high levels of iodine can cause your heart rate to increase.

7. Cognitive problems

Iodine deficiency is not only responsible for mental disability in newborn babies, but it can also cause learning and memory issues. Studies have found that individuals with low thyroid hormones are more prone to developing cognitive problems that affect the proper functioning of the brain.


Sources of Iodine

Below are ten foods that are rich in pure iodine:

  1. Seaweed with (Kombu Kelp, Wakame, and Nori): 2000 plus mcg per sheet is (>2000 percent daily intake)
  2. Cod: 60-99 mcg every three ounces (40-66% daily intake)
  3. Dairy: 80-170 mcg per 8 ounces (60-110% recommended intake); Plain yogurt one cup: ~75 mcg (50% daily recommended intake); Pure Cottage cheese one cup: 65 mcg that is (43 percent daily intake)
  4. An iodized form of salt: 71 mcg in every ¼ teaspoon (that is 47percent daily intake; ½ teaspoon of iodized salt every day is ideal daily intake. So, it is enough to get rid of deficiency.)
  5. Shrimp: around 35 mcg per three-ounce (that makes up for 23% daily intake)
  6. Fresh or canned Tuna: 17 mcg per three-ounce (that is 11% ideal daily intake)
  7. Chicken eggs: 24 mcg in every egg ( it will give you 16% daily recommended dose)
  8. Dried Prunes: 13 mcg for 5 dried up prunes (that is enough to fulfill 9% of daily iodine intake)
  9. Fresh lima bean: 16 mcg every cup (it will provide you with 10% daily requirement of iodine)
  10. Bread: 15 mcg slices (they give you almost 10 percent of daily intake)