Iodine deficiencies are very common, especially in Europe and Third World countries. Iodine is a mineral essential to the body because the body cannot make it. Many people with iodine deficiency struggle to lose weight and put on weight easily. Other symptoms of iodine deficiency can include hair loss, fatigue, swollen thyroid gland (goitre), thyroid nodules, lowered fertility, irregular or heavy menstruation, fluid retention, constipation, cold body temperature and cognitive impairment. Iodine deficiency is common in children who are picky eaters and can impair their intellectual development.
Iodine is critical to health and has several functions:
- Iodine’s main function is to make thyroid hormones which control the metabolic rate of every cell in your body. Iodine deficiency can cause a low thyroid condition known as hypothyroidism because your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
- Iodine helps the immune system to reduce inflammation and infections.
- Iodine keeps your breast tissue healthy reducing breast cysts and may reduce risk of breast cancer.
- Iodine keeps your thyroid tissue healthy reducing thyroid nodules and goitre (thyroid enlargement)
Who is at risk?
People at risk of iodine deficiency include:
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding women.
- People who live in countries where there is very little iodine in the soil and in areas far away from the ocean
- People with a poor diet who don’t use iodized salt or eat seafood or seaweeds.
- People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Sources of iodine
Good sources of iodine include:
- Seaweed is the best source
- Eggs are a source of iodine
- Some dairy products
- Iodized salt
- Thyroid Health capsules contain iodine, selenium, zinc and vitamin D and are formulated to keep your thyroid tissue healthy and optimize the production of thyroid hormone
It is not advisable to take more than 1,100 mcg per day of iodine on a long-term basis unless you talk to a doctor first.
Tests for iodine deficiency
This is tested with a urine sample to measure the concentration of iodine in your urine. Iodine deficiency is defined as a urinary iodine concentration (UIC) below 100 μg/L
There are different levels of deficiency:
- Mild deficiency is defined as a UIC of 50–99 μg/L
- Moderate deficiency is defined as a UIC of 20-49 μg/L
- Severe deficiency is defined as a UIC of less than 20 μg/L