Health A-Z

Understanding and Curing Iodine deficiency

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 sign and symptoms of Iodine deficiency

Iodine is basically the natural element which is responsible for the production of thyroid hormone inside our body.

The human body lacks the ability to make this essential nutrient, iodine, by itself and thus, the need of our body has to be taken care of through diet.

Foods with Iodine

Iodine is present in several foods. The sources of iodine include cow’s milk, cheese, frozen yogurt, eggs, ice cream, yogurt, soy milk, soy sauce and seafood.

Most of these food items are normally present in our homes as an important part of our monthly ration.

Iodine deficiency  

If you lack the required amount of iodine and do not eat at all the things mentioned, your body is unable to make enough of the essential thyroid hormone.

The lack of iodine causes a person to suffer from iron deficiency. This iron deficiency then leads to an enlargement of the thyroid (goiter) which is not a good sign.

It may also lead to higher chances of having mental retardation problems in infants and children whose mothers had iron deficiency during their pregnancy.

In those areas where people have very little iodine present in their diet iron or iodine deficiency is very common.

These are usually the remote and far off areas from the sea which are inland and thus, have very little seafood consumption.

In addition to this, iodine deficiency also commonly prevails in mountainous areas where all the food is being grown in non-iodine and poor quality soil.

Initially, the iodine deficiency prevailed in Great Lakes, Appalachian, North West USA, and Canada before the 1920s.

But as the use of iodized salt began to be administered in order to treat this disease these areas were deemed as being iodine sufficient.

However, across the globe there are many areas which do not get enough iodine through their diets and that is why iodine deficiency greatly prevails there. Over the years it has become one of the greatest public health issues at a global scale.

The majority of the world’s population is at risk of this disease especially the third world countries.

Governments and International Health Organizations need to take drastic steps to increase awareness among people and help to treat as well as prevent this disease from occurring.

Signs and Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms which can easily tell you whether you have iodine deficiency or not.

  • Iodine deficiency causes the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to increase. The high levels of TSH lead to the thyroid gland’s expansion. People who have a mild level of iodine deficiency may have a goiter but no high levels of TSH.
  • In addition to this, iron deficiency might also cause Cretinism which basically damages your mental health or IQ level. It causes mental deficiency, deafness, and squint eyes, disorders of stance and gait, and stunted growth.
  • Some evidence has shown that iodine deficiency also causes the increased sensitivity of breasts tissues to estrogen.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Increased weight gain or weight loss.
  • Low basal body temperatures.

Risk Factors 

There are several risk factors which may lead you to have some sort of iron deficiency. These risk factors include a Selenium deficiency, less healthy diet, exposing yourself to radiation, pregnancy, smoking tobacco, intake of oral contraceptives, Perchlorates and Thiocyanates.

Moreover, increased intake of calcium or rise in plasma levels of goitrogens may also cause you to suffer from this disease. In addition to this, such deficiency happens to occurs more in women than men.

Treatment of iodine deficiency

Diagnosis of iodine deficiency is possible through a 24-hour urine test. A general idea of iodine deficiency can be gauged through a simple and functional iodine test in the form of a skin iodine test.

In this test, iodine patch is applied to the skin. If this patch quickly vanishes away then it is a sign of iodine deficiency.

The basic treatment for Iodine deficiency involves the intake of iodine salts. These iodine salts are ingested in the human body through the consumption of food supplements.

Mild cases of iron deficiency are easily treated by the intake of iodized salt in daily food consumption by drinking more milk, eating egg yolks and seawater fish.

But at the same time, iodine must not be consumed in excess quantity. For those of you who might know, the normal intake of iodine for women is recommended to be between 50–300 µg.

Women need iodine in a greater quantity than men. Men need about less than 150 µg of iodine for normal thyroid functioning.

At the same time, too much or an over dosage of iodine can lead to severe toxic effects occur inside the body. Too much iodine can lead to hypothyroidism and high blood levels of thyroid hormones.

People with an existing background of having any sort of thyroid problem are at a greater risk of having excess-iodine prone abnormalities.

Prevention

Iodine deficiency isn’t something that should be taken lightly. That is why the medical world implores that people should focus on preventing this condition from occurring.

Every country’s government should take the initiative of devising programs to increase the awareness about iodine deficiency and tell the general public about how to prevent it.

International health organizations should also help the third world developing countries by providing them with funds and medical assistance to prevent iodine deficiency.

A country’s government and their respective health organizations, through media and marketing, should ensure that iodized salt is available to every one of its citizen at the lowest possible cost.

People should be made well aware of the consequences of iodine deficiency and what they should do they do in order to avoid it.

Programs should also be designed in accordance with different amounts of consumption of iodine salt at different ages as recommended by the health experts.

Only through correct public awareness and the easy accessibility of iodized salt can human beings begin to prevent and even treat this disease in high risk areas and allow people to live normal lives.

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