Iodine is an extremely essential mineral in the body that is needed to make a chemical in the body known as thyroid hormone. A normal level of thyroid in the body controls metabolism and takes care of other body functions. With low levels of iodine, the thyroid gland will not function properly. But a lack of iodine in the blood leads to enlargement of the thyroid gland causing goiter and other thyroid problems.
Who are at a risk of iodine deficiency?
As per reports, about one-third of the world’s total population is deficient in iodine. This is one mineral that your body cannot naturally produce; hence you need to eat enough seafood that will give you iodine. Are you deficient in iodine? We have listed below those who are at the highest risk of iodine deficiency:
- Pregnant women
- Individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
- People who don’t eat iodized salt.
What happens when you have an iodine deficiency?
Iodine deficiency leads to a number of serious health conditions like:
- Impaired cognitive development in children
- Low levels of IQ in school-going children
- Brain damage and mental retardation in the fetus
- Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism which leads to cardiovascular disorder, depression, peripheral neuropathy and infertility in women.
6 signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency
Here are some signs and symptoms that will prompt you to take an iodine deficiency test and visit the doctor:
1. Weight gain
Are you putting on weight without a reason? It might be a sign of iodine deficiency. An iodine deficiency slows down a person’s metabolism. Calories then get stored as fat leading to weight gain.
2. Loss of energy
Are you feeling tired even with the simplest of household work? As iodine slows down metabolism it produces less energy that might make you feel weak and tired. Low energy also means that you will feel cold.
3. Learning problems
Iodine produces thyroid hormones for brain development, but if you have an iodine deficiency, you might find it difficult to learn and memorize new things.
4. Irregular periods
Have been observing your periods have changed a course? If you have irregular periods with very less or abnormally heavy flow, consider seeing a doctor and getting your iodine tested.
5. Swelling in the neck
Is there a swelling in the front of your neck? This might be due to goiter because the thyroid gland has swollen due to lack of iodine.
6. Hair loss
Thyroid hormones support the growth of hair follicles. But when a person has an iron deficiency, the hair follicles stop getting renewed and a person suffers from thinning hair.
Food Sources of iodine
The National Institute of Health lists down a number of food items that are rich in iodine content:
- Tuna fish
- Dairy products
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
If you notice any of the above symptoms, then you must visit a healthcare professional at the earliest and get your blood tested to check for iodine levels.