Iodine is a mineral that can be easily found in seawater, and therefore is a main element of salt. Unfortunately, a third of the world's population is at risk of iodine deficiency. Those who are most at risk are:
- Expectant mothers.
- People who live in countries with low iodine levels in the soil. This comprises countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Europe.
- Individuals who do not consume iodized salt.
- Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
What is iodine deficiency & its causes?
Your body requires a particular quantity of iodine to produce a substance known as thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating your metabolism and other vital body functions.
Low thyroid function can be caused by more than just a lack of iodine. However, a shortage of iodine can result in ailments such as goiter, or abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, as well as other thyroid issues. It can also cause mental health issues among youngsters.
Iodine insufficiency is widespread in locations where there is minimal iodine in the diet, such as far inland areas where no marine foods are consumed. Iodine shortage occurs when iodine levels in the soil are low, resulting in low iodine concentrations in food and insufficient iodine consumption in the population. The thyroid may no longer be able to manufacture enough thyroid hormone if iodine requirements are not met.
Here are some common symptoms of iodine deficiency:
- Swelling in the Neck : In winters, at some stage in the endemic of cough and cold, swelling inside the neck may also regularly be jumbled with the season of flu. However, this may not be the case always. At times, the principal cause of the swelling could be due to iodine deficiency. A goitre, or swelling in the front of the neck, is a common indication of iodine deficiency. When there is a lack of iodine in the body, your thyroid gland is compelled to produce thyroid hormones.
- Unexpected Weight Gain : Weight gain can be caused by manifolds of reasons, the most primary being: the consumption of processed food and a sedentary lifestyle. However, one of the underlying reasons for unexpected weight gain could be iodine deficiency. Low iodine levels might cause your metabolism to slow down and promote meals to be stored as fat rather than be burned for energy, which could result in weight gain.
- Weakness and Fatigue : The root cause to experience the dull lane of weakness or fatigue is a lack of energy in the body. The body cannot produce as much energy as it normally does when thyroid hormone levels are low. This may cause your energy levels to drop, leaving you exhausted, sluggish and weak. Thyroid hormones aid in the production of energy; a deficiency in iodine, thus causes these symptoms.
- Hair Loss : Thyroid hormones aid in the regulation of hair follicle growth. Hair follicles may stop renewing if your thyroid hormone levels are low. This can lead to hair loss over time. If you have a shortage in iodine, fortunately, it can be corrected by eating enough of this mineral which will help you balance your thyroid hormone levels and reduce hair loss.
- Feeling bitterly cold : Thyroid hormones increase the activity of brown fat- a form of fat that generates heat. Low thyroid hormone levels, generally caused by iodine deficiency, could hinder brown fat from performing its function. Iodine aids in the production of body heat, therefore low amounts may make you feel colder than usual.
- Problems During Pregnancy Iodine insufficiency is common among pregnant women. This is due to the fact that they must consume enough to meet both their own daily demands and the needs of their growing kid. As neonates absorb iodine through breast milk, the increased requirement for iodine remains during breastfeeding. In addition to that, a severe iodine deficiency may also raise the chance of stillbirth.
Which are the best food sources of iodine?
As your body does not produce iodine on its own, you must obtain it through your food. Adults require 150 micrograms (mcg) per day on average. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding require 200 mcg per day. Iodine can be present in a variety of foods.
Here are some iodine-rich food items that can help you surmount this deficiency:
a) Seaweed: Iodine can be found in abundance in seaweed. The amount it contains, however, varies by species. Kombu kelp contains the most iodine, with some types holding approximately 2,000% of the recommended dose in just one gramme.
b) Dairy: Milk and its various consumption practices are key sources of iodine in the Indian diet.
c) Iodized Salt: Iodine insufficiency can be avoided by eating 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt every day.
d) Eggs: The yolk is rich in iodine content. One big egg offers around 16% of the daily required intake.
Other iodine-rich foods include fruits like bananas and strawberries, vegetables like green leafy vegetables, onions, and sweet potatoes, cereals, nuts, and legumes like peanuts and barley, and grains, nuts, and legumes like peanuts and barley.
The bottom line
Lack of iodine can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body produces insufficient thyroid hormones. Fortunately, inadequacy is easily avoided. You can achieve your requirements by adding a dash of iodized salt to your main meals. It is also recommended to consult your doctor if you suspect you have an iodine shortage. They'll look for indicators of iodine shortage, such as a goitre, or take a urine sample. With the proper treatment and diet, iodine deficiency can be treated.