Is someone against iodized salt

The 8 most common symptoms of iodine deficiency

Table of Contents

  1. Weight gain
  2. Fatigue and weakness
  3. Swelling of the neck
  4. Flaky and dry skin
  5. Learning and memory difficulties
  6. Hair loss
  7. Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding
  8. Problems During Pregnancy
  9. Foods containing iodine
  10. Knowledge to take away

From the mineral, which is often found in seafood, the thyroid produces hormones that control growth, support metabolism and repair damaged cells.

Often, iodine deficiency particularly affects pregnant women or people who are vegetarian or vegan. People from parts of Asia, New Zealand or even European countries can also be affected, as there is very little iodine in the soil in these countries.

The symptoms of iodine deficiency are varied. A deficiency can interfere with learning, cause weight gain or be responsible for problems during pregnancy.

1. Weight gain

Unexpected weight gain can be a sign of iodine deficiency because the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough thyroid hormones due to the lack of mineral.

The thyroid hormones help control the rate of metabolism. When the thyroid hormone levels are low, the body burns fewer calories while resting and more calories from food are stored as fat.

Including more iodine in your diet can help boost your metabolism as the body can produce more thyroid hormones.

An iodine deficiency can lead to a slow metabolism, which means that less energy is burned and more fat is stored in the body from food, which can lead to weight gain.

2. Fatigue and weakness

The symptoms of weakness and fatigue are associated with low thyroid hormone levels in around 80 percent of people due to iodine deficiency (1).

The hormones support the body in generating energy. Conversely, when hormone levels are low, energy levels are also lower, which makes people feel weak.

An iodine deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness as the body needs the mineral to generate energy.

3. Swelling on the neck

Neck swelling is one of the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency. The so-called goiter occurs when the thyroid gland becomes too large. The thyroid, which sits in the area of ​​the larynx, starts producing thyroid hormones as soon as it receives a signal from thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

As soon as the level of TSH in the blood rises, the thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. However, if there is not enough iodine in the body, not enough of the thyroid hormone can be produced.

To make up for the iodine deficiency, the thyroid tries to produce more of the hormone, causing the cells to grow and multiply, which ultimately leads to the goiter.

This symptom can usually be treated with iodine intake. Only if a goiter is left untreated over a long period of time can this lead to long-term damage to the thyroid gland.

When the body is low on iodine, the thyroid gland produces an excess of thyroid hormones. This can lead to the development of a goiter.

4. Flaky and dry skin

If the body is insufficiently supplied with iodine, this in turn can cause low thyroid hormone levels. This can cause the skin to become dry and flaky, as the skin cells can no longer regenerate at regular intervals.

The thyroid hormones also ensure that the sweat produced by the body is regulated. If there is an iodine deficiency and the associated low thyroid hormone level, those affected sweat less, which means that the skin can no longer be kept as moist as with normal thyroid hormone levels.

Those affected can suffer from flaky, dry skin, as the skin cells cannot regenerate regularly due to the lack of mineral and the body excretes less sweat, which means that the skin cells lack the necessary moisture.

5. Difficulties in learning and remembering

Another symptom of iodine deficiency is the impairment of the ability to learn and remember.

Here, too, the thyroid hormones play a central role as they help the brain to grow and develop. An iodine deficiency means that thyroid hormones can no longer be produced in sufficient quantities, which can inhibit the development of the brain.

Studies have found that the part of the brain that controls long-term memory, the hippocampus, appears to be smaller in people with low thyroid hormone levels (2).

An iodine deficiency can lead to difficulties in learning and remembering.

6. Hair loss

The growth of hair follicles is influenced by thyroid hormones. Low levels of hormones can cause hair follicles to stop regenerating. This can lead to hair loss, which can also affect people with an iodine deficiency.

When hair loss occurs due to iodine deficiency, providing the body with the essential mineral can help normalize thyroid hormone levels and stop hair from falling out.

If there is an iodine deficiency, hair loss can also be a symptom as the hair follicles no longer regenerate. A sufficient supply of iodine to the body helps stop hair loss in most cases.

7. Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding

An irregular or heavy period can also be the result of an iodine deficiency. This iodine deficiency symptom is also associated with a low thyroid hormone level.

One study found that around 68 percent of women who have irregular periods also have low levels of thyroid hormones, while only 12 percent of healthy women reported irregularities (3).

Research also found that women who had low thyroid hormone levels were more likely to have heavy menstrual bleeding because the low hormone levels negatively affect the signals of the hormones involved in the menstrual cycle (4,5).

Low thyroid hormone levels due to iodine deficiency can affect the hormones involved in regulating the menstrual cycle. This can result in heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding.

8. Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnant women in particular can often have an iodine deficiency. During pregnancy it is particularly important not only to meet your own needs for the mineral, but also for your baby. This is also the case when breastfeeding, as the baby absorbs iodine through breast milk.

An inadequate iodine supply during pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to side effects for mother and child. The symptoms of iodine deficiency or hypothyroidism mentioned above can occur in mothers. In babies, however, an iodine deficiency leads to reduced physical growth and the development of the brain can also be impaired.

A sufficient supply of the mineral is particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as the need is higher. An iodine deficiency can have serious side effects, especially for the baby.

Foods containing iodine

According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), adults between 15 and 51 years of age need 200 micrograms of iodine and from the age of 51 180 micrograms per day. The iodine requirement in pregnant women is 230 micrograms and breastfeeding women 260 micrograms per day (6).

Since there are very few good sources of iodine in the diet, this is one of the reasons why iodine deficiency is widespread worldwide.

Iodine occurs in different concentrations in the following foods:

  • Seaweed
  • cod
  • yogurt
  • Iodized salt
  • Eggs
  • tuna
  • dried plums
  • fish
  • Shellfish
  • beef
  • Beans
  • Dairy products

The best way to get enough iodine is to season meals with iodized salt. Half a teaspoon is enough during the day to prevent iodine deficiency. If you suspect an iodine deficiency, consult your doctor to have your iodine level checked.

Because of the few foods that contain iodine, deficiency is relatively common. Adults, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and the elderly have different iodine requirements.

Knowledge to take away

The iodine requirement in adults is between 180 and 260 micrograms per day, depending on age and circumstances. To prevent a deficiency, iodine should therefore be an integral part of the diet. The easiest way to do this is to add iodized salt to meals.

A sufficient supply of the mineral is therefore so important, because otherwise it can lead to impairments and, under certain circumstances, long-term consequences. These can not only appear externally, but also impair the ability to remember and learn.

A sufficient supply of iodine is particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as an iodine deficiency can negatively affect not only the woman but also the baby.