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Iodine Deficiency - 11 Signs You are Suffering from it!

Written and reviewed by
Dr.Tamanna Narang 92% (5406ratings)
M.Sc - Dietitics / Nutrition (Delhi University)
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Panipat  •  9years experience
Iodine Deficiency - 11 Signs You are Suffering from it!

Iodine deficiency is a very common problem worldwide and is a major cause of thyroid disorders. The entire mechanism of how deficiency of iodine causes hypothyroidism is a complex explanation. So we will stick to layman terms and keep it simple. Deficiency of iodine causes a range of diseases which, altogether are termed as iodine deficiency diseases. When an individual does not receive enough iodine, the thyroid gland increases in size because the thyroid is unable to make enough hormones that are necessary for the body. This causes the development of a condition called goitre. Iodine deficiency in pregnant and lactating women is a serious concern because it is the most popular cause of preventable mental retardation.

There can be situations where a person might not be getting adequate iodine, but may not show any symptoms of iodine deficiency. The easiest way to know if a person has iodine deficiency is to get a urine test done or a blood test done to check the level of iodine in the body. Thyroid is a very important gland and is responsible for:

  1. Controlling the metabolic rate
  2. Boosting synthesis of proteins
  3. Regulating blood flow and heart rate
  4. Promoting brain development and linear growth in children
  5. Helping in normal reproductive functioning in adults

Here are the most common signs that can tell you that your thyroid is not functioning properly due to deficiency of iodine.

  1. You feel lethargic and tired most of the times and suffer from weakness constantly (due to reduced metabolic rates).
  2. You may start feeling cold, even when it is visibly warm for the others around you.
  3. You may have difficulty in concentrating and might have a poor memory (due to slowed down mental processes)
  4. You may experience unusual weight gain.
  5. You may become more prone to depressive periods.
  6. You may notice your skin becoming thick and puffy or your face becoming puffier than usual.
  7. You may suffer from hair loss.
  8. You may start having frequent problems of constipation.
  9. Your skin might feel really dry.
  10. You might feel your heart beating slower.
  11. Visible signs would include enlargement of the chin and neck area (caused due to enlargement of your thyroid gland).

Treatment For Iodine Deficiency

The best way to correct Iodine deficiency is by a healthy diet. But if diet alone cannot supply enough iodine, adding an iodine supplement may help. People who don't get enough iodine through food often include:

  • Vegetarians
  • Vegans
  • Pregnant Women

Iodine supplements contain potassium that readily absorbs in the body. Having supplements that contain potassium iodide and potassium iodate could be of help. But don’t take supplements in excess. This could cause an iodine overload, which is also harmful to the thyroid.

Changing diet and adding supplements can treat people with health concerns related to iodine deficiency.  

People with hypothyroidism due to insufficient iodine requires hospitalization. At the hospital, patients are provided with liquids to replace water, sugar and salt and other stabilizing treatments. Doctors will also administer thyroid hormones to correct the condition. After a person with hypothyroidism is stable, their thyroid function will be monitored and changes in diet are determined to ensure they are consuming enough iodine to keep their hormone levels stable.

With proper treatment and change in diet, iodine deficiency disorders can be prevented with ease. For a better diagnosis, you must consult an experienced medical practitioner and follow his suggestions for improving the iodine levels in your body.

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