The small iodized salt container you have on your dining table is actually an unsung hero of your life. For starters, iodine is an essential mineral, which your thyroid gland uses to make thyroid hormones. It helps in keeping your body warm, generating energy, and also promotes a healthy metabolism. You must be surprised to know that in babies too, iodine is fundamentally important for the development of brain and bone, before and after birth. However, our body doesn’t make iodine by itself. So, we have to get it from sources like food and supplements.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency
Normally, the chances of iodine deficiency are higher in people who:
- Are pregnant
- Follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet
- Don’t use iodized salt
- Don’t consume enough dairy products and seafood
Some of the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency include:
- Swelling in the neck (due to an enlarged thyroid gland; a condition known as goiter)
- Persistent fatigue and weakness
- Unexplained weight gain due to slow metabolism
- Sudden hair loss due to low thyroid hormone levels that hinders the regeneration of hair follicles
- Flaky and dry skin
- Being more sensitive to cold than usual
- Lowering of heart rate
What iodine deficiency can lead to?
Primarily, a lower intake of iodine can meddle with your thyroid hormone levels, and then lead to a list of health issues, often termed as Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD).
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder commonly witnessed in people with iodine deficiency. In fact, iodine deficiency during pregnancy is also one of the most common causes of developmental issues in children.
Are you getting enough iodine?
If your doctor notices any signs in your body suggesting an iodine deficiency, they will recommend an iodine deficiency test, which can be in the form of urine analysis, blood test, iodine patch test, or iodine loading test.
The urine analysis is the fastest of the lot but the results aren’t as accurate as that of a blood test and an iodine loading test.
The recommended daily intake of iodine for a healthy adult is 150 mcg per day, which can easily be fulfilled by using upsized salt in cooking and including a few iodine-rich foods like nuts and dairy. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women need more than this for the healthy development of their babies.
The reason iodine deficiency is so common all across the globe is because there are only a few good sources of iodine and we can get our hands on the mineral only through food and supplements.
Some of the best sources of iodine include:
- Iodized salt
- Dried prunes
- Lima beans
So, make sure you include some of these foods in your regular diet as much as possible. In case you’re experiencing any of the common symptoms of iodine deficiency, it’s advised that you check with a doctor right away.