Iodine Deficiency And Hypothyroidism

iodine deficiency What is Iodine?

Iodine is a mineral that our body needs to make the thyroid hormone. Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in front part of the neck. Thyroid produces 2 hormones T3, which has 3 atoms of iodine and T4 which has 4 atoms of iodine. If our body does not have enough iodine, there will not be enough production of the thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is often the most common cause of hypothyroidism.Thyroid needs iodine to function, and produce hormones that controls metabolism, growth, bone structure, regulates body temperature, and because the thyroid hormone is secreted into the blood stream to be carried to kidneys, liver and heart; problem with the thyroid hormone can cause these organs of the body to not function properly.

What  are the causes of Iodine deficiency?

Our body does not produce iodine, so we need to have iodine in our diets. Some factors that can cause us to be iodine deficient are:

    • Use of bromides: Iodine was used in processing of flour until recently, but now it is replaced with potassium bromide which is used to improve the rise of flour to make bread and improve the appearance of the bread. This replacement has not only caused our food to be iodine deficient, but bromide in food also blocks the iodine from getting absorbed in our body.
    • Drinking water: Other chemicals that block iodine absorption are chlorine and fluoride which are both found in drinking water.
    • Less use of iodized salt:  People who are health conscious have started using sea salt or mineral salt which has only trace amounts of iodine, instead of iodized salt.
    • Iodine depleted soil
    • Iodized salt looses 100% of  iodine after exposure to air for 4 weeks.
    • Absence or low levels of iodine in our body can lead to toxins like heavy metals, environmental toxins bind to the iodine receptors which exist in every cell of our body and inhibit thyroid, and other cellular functions.

What are Iodine Deficiency Symptoms and how is it connected to hypothyroidism?

Effects of Iodine deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to swell and enlarge resulting in a condition called goiter and hypothyroidism (production of insufficient amount of T4 or thyroxine) . Here are some of the symptoms of Iodine deficiency  :

    • Brain fog
    • Constipation
    • Low immunity
    • Slow metabolism
    • Intolerance to cold
    • Fatigue
    • Sluggish metabolism
    • Excessive sleep
    • Depression
    • Enlarged Thyroid
    • Dry skin
    • Thin and brittle hair and nails
    • Goiter
    • Weight gain
    • Heavy period in women
What happens if you have untreated hypothyroidism?

If you have untreated hypothyroidism, it can lead to number of health problems like:

  • High risk of developing heart disease.
  • Enlarged thyroid gland called goiter.
  • Declining mental health.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Birth defects.
  • Myxedema coma
  • Infertility in women.
How to overcome Iodine deficiency?

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine is:

    • 150/ mcg daily for ages 14 and over.
    • 90/mcg  for ages 1-8.
    • 120/mcg for ages 9-13.
    • 290/mcg if pregnant or nursing.

If you have hypothyroidism because of Iodine deficiency, diet for hypothyroidism is eating  foods rich in iodine like:

    • Iodized salt fortified
    • Meat
    • Dairy
    • Sea food
    • Seaweed
    • Beans
    • Baked potato
Safety of Iodine Supplements:

Iodine supplements should be taken only if hypothyroidism is caused by iodine deficiency. Just like Iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, too much iodine can mimic the symptoms of iodine deficiency and can cause hyperthyroidism which is usually a result of taking iodine supplements. Children are very sensitive to effects of iodine. Never take iodine supplements without the supervision of a physician, who can tell you if iodine supplement is right for you. Iodine supplements usually have kelp, a type of seaweed can have an adverse effect on thyroid health if taken in excess. Safer way to make up for iodine deficiency is to eat above mentioned foods that have iodine. Correcting vitamin or other deficiencies by eating food that is naturally rich in that vitamin or minerals is always better that taking a supplement, unless due to some other underlying condition your body is unable to absorb it.

Alternative Remedies that help Iodine deficiency and Hypothyroidism are:

Ayurvedic remedies :

    • Ashwagandha increases body’s ability to produce thyroid hormone.
    • Guggul increases the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland.
    • Manjistha, an immune regulator.
    • Brahmi (Bacopa extract) improves thyroid function.
    • Coleus forskohlii : Activates the enzyme which signals the pituitary gland to produce more thyroid hormone.
    • Bladderwrack : Replenishes the body with easily absorb able iodine ions.

Eating selenium rich foods, foods high in Vitamin-B and sea vegetables help too.

Foods to avoid if you have hypothyroidism: 

Because some foods interfere with thyroid function, they should be avoided. Some of these foods are listed below:

  • Mustard greens
  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Soybean
  • Millet
  • Cassava

Read here on Iodine Deficiency test.


Image by  Adelle & Justin via Compfight


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