Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

Causes of Iodine deficiency

Welcome to our page on iodine deficiency symptoms. Here we will discuss this rare but serious condition in detail, as well as provide information on the mineral itself. If you suffer from this deficiency or know somebody who does, you will want to know the best sources of iodine so you can consume these on a regular basis. We will look at these sources, including iodine supplements, because they may be better than eating iodine rich foods for some individuals.

What is iodine?

Iodine is a chemical element. It is also one of the essential minerals that your body needs in order to work properly and for us to stay healthy, strong and mentally alert. It is known as a ‘trace mineral’ because, although it is vital for good health, the actual amount we need is very small in comparison to many other minerals that the body requires.

Our bodies need iodine in order for the thyroid gland to function properly. Specifically, iodine allows the two thyroid hormones ‘triiodothyronine’ and ‘thyroxine’ can be made. Thyroxine controls metabolism; which we can define as how efficiently the body breaks down food and converts it into energy. Generally, higher metabolism means the body uses energy more quickly, and this faster metabolic rate is one of the keys to weight control. Understandably therefore, these hormones are important for metabolism and in turn to help avoid weight gain.

RDI Iodine

  • 150µg Adults
  • 220µg Pregnant women
  • 270-90µg breastfeeding women
  • 150µg Children 14-18 years
  • 120µg Children 9-13 years
  • 90µg Children 1-8 years
  • 130µg Infants 7-12 months
  • 110µg Infants 0-6 months

Lack of iodine leads to a deficiency, and this can lead to an array of problems. These are covered briefly on our iodine rich foods page, and in more detail below in our iodine deficiency symptoms section.

What is an iodine deficiency?

Put simply, an iodine deficiency is a lack of iodine in the body. This can cause serious health problems, both mentally and physically. Whether or not you are suffering from iodine deficiency symptoms, one of the most important things to know is how much iodine you need per day. You can find the recommended daily amount (RDA) of this mineral at the top right of the page.

The normal iodine content of the adult human body is between 20 to 30 mg, and most of this is stored in the thyroid gland. If you are not consuming enough iodine for your body to absorb and use then it will begin to suffer and show symptoms of iodine deficiency.

The main risk factor for deficiency is living in an area where iodized salt and ocean foods are not available, and the soil is iodine deficient. This mean that foods in these areas will be naturally low in iodine. If you live in an areas in the middle of a continent, for example, mountainous areas of central America and Mexico, Eastern Europe, and the Alps, you will therefore be more at risk . Other risk factors for iodine deficiency include pregnancy, smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, exposure to radiation and selenium deficiency.


Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

If you do not consume and absorb a sufficient amount of iodine then over time your body will begin to display iodine deficiency symptoms. Maybe you think that because the amount of iodine that is required each day is so small that there is no chance that you will ever develop iodine deficiency symptoms. The condition is rarer than in the past because in many developed countries iodized salt is widespread. However, in the UK there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to add iodine to salt.  Therefore it is important that you can recognise the symptoms of iodine deficiency and thoerefore seek medical attention if you feel you may be affected.

Hypothyroidism is a term describing a condition in which there is a reduced level of the hormone thyroxine in the body, which is due to an underactive thyroid gland. Worldwide, this is most commonly caused by iodine deficiency. In children it can lead to stunted growth and retardation. Conversely, hyperthyroidism is unusually high activity of the thyroid gland, and this leads to increased heart rate and increased metabolic rate.

Below we have listed what the symptoms of iodine deficiency are:

  • Goiter – Swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck . A goiter looks like a large lump or inflammation in the neck.
  • Dry ordamaged skin
  • Reduction in the function of the immune system
  • Excessive production of the hormone oestrogen
  • Dull, lifeless hair – A symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Chronic fatigue (tiredness) – A symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Forgetfulness – A common symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Depression – A symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Weight gain – A common symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Constipation – A common symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Muscle pain and cramps – A common symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Problems concentrating – A symptom of hypothyroidism
  • Swelling of the legs – A common symptom of hypothyroidism

Now you know the symptoms to look out for if you do not consume a sufficient amount of iodine. But what are the best iodine sources? We explain this in our next section.

Sources of iodine

Iodine Supplements

There are two main ways of getting the right amount of iodine into your body each day. Firstly, you can eat iodine rich foods, alternatively you can take iodine supplements. In most cases, the most useful method is consuming  foods with iodine in them. By eating a varied diet you can also gain a variety of other beneficial vitamins and minerals along with iodine.

However, iodine supplements are particularly useful if you are unable to eat high iodine foods. As one of the main edible sources of iodine is iodized salt, if you are on a low salt or low sodium diet, obviously this will be something you need to avoid. In this case supplements may well be the right choice for you.

In conclusion, we hope that you have found our page on iodine deficiency symptoms of some use. If you are interested in this subject, you can also look at our iodine rich foods page.