Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is an element necessary for optimal health and proper thyroid function.

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What Is Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine is an element necessary for optimal health and proper thyroid function.

The body is unable to produce iodine, so dietary intake is the only source. Iodine can be found in iodized table salt or multivitamins, as well as in the following foods:

  • dairy products, such as cheese, cow’s milk, ice cream, yogurt, and frozen yogurt
  • soy milk and soy sauce
  • saltwater products, including seafood and seaweed

A lack of iodine leads to iodine deficiency. This condition causes a drop in the production of necessary thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency hasn’t been an issue in the U.S. in recent decades. It is a serious concern in other parts of the world, specifically in parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Iodine deficiency is the most preventable cause of brain damage and developmental impairment in children worldwide (WHO).

What Are the Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency?

The most common symptoms of iodine deficiency are hypothyroidism and goiter.

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid does not produce sufficient quantities of necessary hormones.

A goiter develops when a lack of iodine causes the thyroid to enlarge.

It is especially important for pregnant women to get adequate amounts of iodine. Deficiency in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, early labor, mental retardation, and other developmental issues.

What Causes Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine deficiency occurs when you don’t get enough iodine in your diet.

How is Iodine Deficiency Diagnosed?

Iodine is released from the body through the urine, so testing a urine sample is the most effective way to get a reading. Iodine concentration in the urine can be labeled: optimal, mildly deficient, moderately deficient, severely deficient, or excessive.

Other tests can determine how well the thyroid is functioning.

An enlarged thyroid (or goiter) is a strong indication of iodine deficiency.

How is Iodine Deficiency Treated?

The first treatment for iodine deficiency is an increase in the amount of iodine in the diet. This usually involves an increased intake of iodized table salt. This option is easy and inexpensive, making it a viable treatment solution for people across the world.

For pregnant women with iodine deficiency, a multivitamin that contains iodine is usually recommended. These are often recommended even when they are not at risk for iodine deficiency.

Written by: Amber Erickson Gabbey
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: George Krucik, MD, MBA
Published: Jan 7, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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