Iodine Deficiency

Table of Contents

What is Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine deficiency may occur when the body does not have enough iodine to make thyroid hormones. Iodine is an element needed to produce thyroid hormones. Since the body does not produce iodine, so it is essential for you to include iodine into your diet. 

Iodine deficiency may lead to enlargement of the thyroid, such as goiter and hypothyroidism. Children of mothers with iodine deficiency can also have intellectual disabilities. 

In the past, people would prevent themselves from becoming iodine deficient iodine by consuming salt. However, people from many different countries still had to deal with iodine deficiency, which made it a global public health issue. Reported from the American Thyroid Association, about 30% of the world’s population is still at risk of iodine deficiency. 

Causes of Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency presents numerous risks of diseases, such as goiter. Therefore, it is important to recognize the cause early. Iodine deficiency may be caused by: 

  • Diet. Diet means you stay away from certain types of food. You should consult a nutritionist to make sure that your diet plan includes enough iodine. 
  • Hypertension. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease, your doctor may recommend that you reduce your salt intake — which may put you at risk for malnutrition.
  • Wrong choice of salt products. Not all salt contains iodine, not even Himalayan salt. Make sure you choose the right salt product before you put it into your cooking. 

When to See a Doctor for Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency is diagnosed across populations and not specifically in individuals. This remains a major problem in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia.

Iodine is excreted from your body through the urine. The best way to diagnose iodine deficiency in a large population is by measuring the amounts of iodine in urine samples. Iodine deficiency is considered as a median urinary iodine concentration less than 100 µg / L in a nonpregnant population or <150 µg / L in a population of pregnant women. 

It is recommended that you consult with an endocrine specialist doctor to identify any endocrine disorders involving glands and organs that produce hormones in the body.

Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency is better when diagnosed and treated early. The following are signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency: 

  • Goiters. Iodine deficiency may lead to enlargement of the thyroid, which forms a goiter. In global-scale cases, iodine deficiency is the most common cause of enlargement of the thyroid and goiter. In goiter, nodules may develop. People with goiter may experience symptoms such as choking sensation when lying down, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing.
  • Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism may develop when iodine levels in the body reduce. Iodine plays an important role in producing thyroid hormones. Although it is rare, iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. 
  • Pregnancy problems. Iodine deficiency must be treated immediately, especially in pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. Severe conditions of iodine deficiency in pregnant women may include miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and congenital disorders —  such as intellectual disabilities, growth, hearing and speech problems.
  • Cretinism. This is a syndrome characterized by permanent brain damage, deafness, spasticity, and short stature. Although rare, cretinism occurs due to underactive thyroid.
  • Children’s intellectual disabilities. Due to iodine deficiency — even mild symptoms — iodine deficiency may be associated with mental developmental problems in children. You can prevent this condition by eating foods that contain enough levels of iodine. 

Treatment for Iodine Deficiency

There is no specific test to confirm if you have enough iodine in your body. When a population is diagnosed with iodine deficiency, it is best managed by ensuring that people consume sufficient levels of iodine. 

Since mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy leads to effects on pregnancy and the development of the unborn baby — it is strongly advised for all women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding to take a multivitamin that contains 150 μg of iodine per day.

Treatment Cost for Iodine Deficiency

The treatment costs required to treat iodine deficiency may vary — depending on the diagnostic tests and treatment plans recommended by your doctor. 

For more details regarding the treatment cost for iodine deficiency, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Iodine Deficiency

Over the last 80 years, global efforts have been made to prevent cases of iodine deficiency. This has been the main goal of UNICEF, WHO, and the Iodine Global Network.

  • Choose salt products containing iodine. Iodine in salt can help prevent iodine deficiency. 
  • Consume daily supplements containing iodine. This is recommended for pregnant women and breastfeeding women — especially women living in regions where iodized salt is not widely available, or where pregnant women are known to have inadequate iodine intakes. 
  • Injections of iodized oil are occasionally used in severely iodine-deficient regions of the world where widespread iodized salt use is not possible
  • The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine in adult men and women at 150 μg per day. In certain countries such as the United States and Canada, one teaspoon of iodized salt contains about 250 μg of iodine.
  • Choose iodine-containing multivitamins. Most iodine-containing multivitamins in the United States are marketed for nonpregnant adults, at least 150 μg of iodine. However, only 60% of prenatal multivitamins in the United States contain iodine.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women need higher iodine intake than other adults. The RDA recommends 220 μg of iodine per day for pregnant women and 290 μg iodine per day for breastfeeding women.
  • Women who are planning pregnancy and breastfeeding are recommended to take a prenatal multivitamin containing 150 μg iodine per day.

Home Remedies for Iodine Deficiency

Apart from treatments, you are recommended to consume more foods containing iodine to prevent yourself from becoming iodine deficient. The recommended daily intake is 150 μg iodine per day. Below are some iodine-rich foods recommended for you: 

  • Yogurt.
  • Shrimp.
  • Potato.
  • Fish sticks.
  • Seaweed.
  • Chocolate ice cream.
  • Iodized salt.
  • Grilled cod.
  • Low fat milk.
  • White bread

Have questions about iodine deficiency? Write in the comment section below or consult an endocrine specialist doctor through Smarter Health’s teleconsultation services.

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