Iodine is an essential mineral that is commonly found in seafood. The thyroid gland uses it to produce thyroid hormones, which are responsible for controlling growth, repair damaged cells and maintain a healthy metabolism.
Currently, one third of people around the world are at risk of developing iodine deficiency. Those that are most at risk include:
- Pregnant women.
- People living in countries where there is very little iodine such as South Asia, New Zealand and European countries.
- People who do not use iodized salt, and who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A lack of iodine can cause uncomfortable and even severe symptoms; and these consequences are similar to those of hypothyroidism. Know 6 signs that you may be suffering from iodine deficiency.
6 Signs of lack of iodine
1.Inflammation of the neck
The swelling of the front of the neck is the most common symptom of an iodine deficiency. This is called a goiter and occurs when the thyroid gland grows too large.
The thyroid gland is small with a butterfly shape and is located in the front of the neck. It produces thyroid hormones upon receiving a signal from the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
When TSH levels rise in the blood, the thyroid gland uses iodine to produce these hormones. However, having little iodine makes it difficult to produce it in the optimal amounts. To compensate, the gland works harder to try to make more hormones. This causes the cells to grow and multiply, which eventually leads to a goiter.
Fortunately, most cases can be treated by increasing iodine intake, but if the goiter has not been treated for years, it could cause permanent damage to the thyroid.
The unexpected weight gain is another sign of the lack of iodine. It can occur if the body does not have enough to produce thyroid hormones. This is because thyroid hormones support the speed of metabolism, which is the process by which the body converts food into energy and heat.
When the hormone level is low, the body burns fewer calories at rest. This means that many calories from food will be stored as fat. For this, it is suggested to add more iodine to the diet to reverse the effects of a slow metabolism.
3.Fatigue and weakness
Fatigue and weakness are also common signs of lack of iodine. In fact, some studies have found that 80% of people with low levels of thyroid hormone feel tired, slow and weak.
That this happens is normal because the body can not generate as much energy as it usually does. This can cause the energy level to fall drastically. In fact, one study in 2,456 people found that fatigue and weakness were the most common signs in people with low levels of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones control the growth of hair follicles. When the level is low, the hair follicles can stop regenerating. And over time it can cause hair loss.
A study of 700 people found that 30% of people with little thyroid hormone experienced hair loss. However, other studies have found that having iodine deficiency alone seems to cause hair loss in those with a family history of this condition.
Therefore, if you experience this symptom due to an iodine deficiency, take enough of this mineral to correct the amount of thyroid hormone and stop the fall.
5.Dry and scaly skin
This symptom can affect many people with iodine deficiency. Some studies have indicated that up to 77% of people with little thyroid hormone experience dry, scaly skin. This is because the regeneration of the skin occurs infrequently. In addition, thyroid hormones help the body regulate sweating, so people with iodine deficiency tend to sweat less than those with a normal level of thyroid hormone.
Since sweat helps keep skin moist and hydrated, lack of sweat is another reason for dry, scaly skin.
6.Problems in pregnancy
Pregnant women are at great risk of lack of iodine. This is because they need to consume enough to meet their daily needs, as well as those of the growing baby. Also, the increased demand for iodine continues during breastfeeding, as babies receive iodine through breast milk. Not consuming enough iodine at this stage can cause side effects for both the mother and the baby.
Mothers may experience an underactive thyroid, weakness, fatigue and cold sensation, while in babies it may hamper physical growth and brain development. In addition, a severe deficiency can increase the risk of fetal death.