10 signs of iodine deficiency

Iodine is a trace element essential to life because it’s a key
component in thyroid hormones. If iodine levels are insufficient, the
thyroid can’t produce enough of the hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and
T4 (thyroxine), which can lead to hypothyroidism. The condition can
cause a reduction in the body’s metabolic processes.

Hypothyroidism
can cause severe complications if left untreated, such as obesity,
infertility, joint pain and heart disease. The body can’t naturally
produce iodine. Instead, it must be ingested from external sources such
as food, drinks and supplements. Since the introduction of iodized table
salt, iodine deficiencies have decreased dramatically worldwide, but 30
percent of the world’s population does not use iodized salt.
Geographical locations, diseases and gender are just a few factors that
influence iodine consumption.

 

Iodine deficiency can
have an enormous impact on health. Lack of iodine destabilizes normal
chemical, hormonal and enzymatic processes in the body. If you feel you
may have an iodine deficiency, consult your health care provider to
discuss and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Common signs of
iodine deficiency are as follows:

1. Fatigue

The
thyroid relies on iodine to synthesize hormones and facilitate
metabolism. If someone develops hypothyroidism (caused by an
insufficient level of iodine), it can decrease all of that person’s
metabolic processes. Metabolism is the burning of calories the body uses
for energy, and a decrease slows the body’s energy production,
resulting in weakness and fatigue.

2. Muscle and joint pain

Physical
activity that was once easy becomes difficult to perform with
insufficient iodine. This weakness and pain are due to the lack of
available energy. Muscles are especially vulnerable to lower energy. In
cases of untreated hypothyroidism, peripheral vascular disease can
develop. This type of disease damages the peripheral nerves, leading to
pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.

3. Weight gain

Iodine
is critical for thyroid hormone production. A lower metabolism means
fewer calories are burned for energy. When someone can’t burn calories
properly, that person’s body will store any unused calories as fat,
which can lead to an increase in weight.

4. Depression/memory problems

Hypothyroidism
can cause signs of depression and memory issues in the early stages.
When the body can’t metabolize calories for energy, that affects the
brain’s ability to process and react efficiently. Thought processes and
memory could be slowed and scattered. Iodine deficiency affects many
chemical reactions within the mind and body. Researchers have proven
that chemical imbalances can cause mental disorders, including
depression and anxiety.

5. Cold sensitivity

Feeling
cold and chilled is a common complaint from someone suffering from
iodine deficiency. Individuals with hypothyroidism have reduced energy
production. In addition, the skin may also appear pale from the lack of
proper metabolism and nutrients. Also, thyroid hormones help regulate
the body’s temperature. If those hormones are low, temperature
sensitivity is likely to occur.

6. Infertility

Hypothyroidism
disrupts the ovulation cycles of females, affecting fertility by
disrupting regular cycles. Furthermore, hormonal imbalances can cause
women to experience heavier than usual or irregular menstrual cycles.

7. Goiter

The
thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the neck. The
neck area is where a goiter can form in cases of iodine deficiency. A
goiter is one of the earliest signs of hypothyroidism because the
thyroid gland swells in response to constant stimulation to produce more
hormones. The body also tries to enlarge the thyroid gland so it will
be able to absorb more iodine. Typically, a goiter is not a problem, but
if it becomes too enlarged it can cause breathing and swallowing
difficulties.

8. Heart complications

A
typical symptom of hypothyroidism is a slow heart rate. Thyroid
hormones directly affect body temperature and heart rate regulation. If
thyroid levels are lacking, the body can’t regulate the heart rate
effectively. A slow heart rate, or bradycardia, can cause symptoms such
as dizziness, nausea and fainting. Chronic hypothyroidism can lead to
high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. High cholesterol increases one’s
risk of heart attacks, heart disease and heart failure.

9. Hair, skin and nail problems

Thyroid
hormones support the growth of hair, skin and nails. The lack of these
hormones commonly causes the skin to become dry, pale and itchy. The
nails and hair can become dry, thin and brittle. A decrease in
metabolism further hinders skin, hair and nail health as the amount of
nutrient-rich blood delivered to the body is insufficient.

10. Birth defects

Babies
born to mothers with an iodine deficiency can experience serious
complications. Iodine is essential for normal growth, healing and
metabolism. Babies who are iodine deficient face an increased risk for
intellectual and developmental delays. Mental retardation, deafness,
mutism, stunted growth, neurological problems and delayed sexual
maturity are possible complications of iodine deficiency. The mother and
infant are also at an increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage or
stillbirth.

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