Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency symptoms are common among the elderly population. They include: fatigue, weakness, malaise, constipation, dry mouth, hair loss and other skin problems.

If you have any of these symptoms then it means your body is not getting enough iodine from food or water. Your doctor may prescribe treatment for this condition. You can take a supplement containing iodine to get rid of these symptoms if they occur frequently.

The signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency are usually seen in older adults. They include: tiredness, weakness, muscle aches, mental confusion, depression and memory loss.

These symptoms can be caused by many things including poor diet, smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. The cause of these symptoms is not known but there are some theories that suggest that iodine deficiency causes them due to low thyroid hormone levels which leads to the accumulation of lysosomal enzymes in the cells causing damage to DNA.

What Causes Iodine Deficiency?

There are several factors that can lead to iodine deficiency. Some of these factors include:

Genetic defects in the thyroid gland. A genetic defect in the thyroid gland can result in hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is when your body does not produce enough hormones needed to maintain normal metabolism and functioning of all bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure, heart rate and so on. A simple blood test is all it takes to diagnose this condition.

A high consumption of goitrogenic foods. Goitrogenic foods include cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, broccoli and brussels sprouts and other vegetables such as sea weed, sweet potatoes and soy beans.

These foods contain compounds that block the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. Excessive consumption can lead to hypothyroidism.

Goitrogens are compounds found in certain foods that can block the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. These compounds actually damage the thyroid cells and cause an enlarged thyroid gland also known as a goitre.

Some people have a genetic defect that makes them unable to get rid of these compounds leading to hypothyroidism.

An excessive consumption of coffee, cocoa and tea. Large consumption of these beverages can prevent the body from taking up iodine.

Excessive consumption of soy products. These contain goitrogens that damage the thyroid and prevent it from taking up iodine.

Allergies and Asthma medications. Medications such as Cromolyn Sodium and Nedocromil Sodium used to control asthma and allergies prevent your body from absorbing iodine.

Large consumption of milk and dairy products. The processing of milk removes iodine from it.

Large consumption of processed foods. These foods may not have any iodine in them.

Large consumption of alcohol. Alcohol consumption causes the body to excrete excess iodide leading to a deficiency.

Large consumption of salt. A diet that is high in salt can lead to a condition known as hyperthyroidism where the body produces too much thyroid hormone.

This condition can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland.

A diet that does not provide enough nutrients. A diet lacking in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals can lead to a number of conditions including iodine deficiency.

Kidney disease. Kidney disease prevents the body from excreting excess iodide leading to a build up of the chemical which in turn causes a build up of thyroid hormone.

Taking medications such as amiodarone and lithium. These medications impair the thyroid’s uptake of iodine.

Who is at Risk of Deficiency?

Most people get enough iodine in their diet. Iodine deficiency is more common in regions such as Europe, North America and Australia where there is added iodine in the salt used for food preservation. Iodine deficiency has been linked to mental retardation, miscarriage and goitre.

Children who grow up in regions with iodine deficient diets can suffer irreversible mental impairment. It is very important for pregnant women to include iodine rich foods in their diet to prevent this condition from occurring in their unborn child.

Infants who do not receive enough iodine in their diet can suffer from a condition known as cretinism that can result in dwarfism, impaired growth and mental retardation.

Both children and adults may suffer from hyperthyroidism which is caused by an over production of thyroid hormones.

Children who do not receive proper nutrition suffer from a reduced IQ and have more psychological problems. Iodine deficiency can also impair the foetus in the womb leading to permanent damage.

Iodine is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibrocystic disease.

There are also links to iodine and the prevention of certain cancers such as ovarian cancer. There may also be a link between iodine and fibrocystic disease which is a condition that affects the female reproductive system causing pain, cysts and swelling in the uterus and other organs.

Iodine is a critical component of the hormone thyroxine that the body uses to control the speed of chemical reactions that produce energy. Many of the body’s cells need these reactions to produce energy and so without enough iodine, the whole body slows down.

Foods high in Iodine include:



Iodized Salt

Povidone-iodine (Betadine) is a topical antiseptic used in the treatment of wounds. It is an effective disinfectant and works by killing sensitive bacteria and viruses.

Povidone-iodine should not be confused with other iodine preparations such as tincture of iodine and Lugol’s solution which are used for diagnostic purposes only.

Iodine works by penetrating the microscopic cells (or mitochondria) in bacteria and viruses and inactivating a vital enzyme needed for them to survive. It is usually applied to cuts, grazes, burns, abrasions, itchy spots, spots and acne.

It is commonly used in the cleaning of wounds.

This medicine is usually applied to the affected area and works locally on the skin.

Back Pain and Iodine

Recent research has indicated that taking 2% iodine orally in a solution of water may increase spinal flexibility in people with minor back problems. A series of daily treatments was found to give long-term benefits for people suffering from acute or chronic back pain.

Sources & references used in this article:

Increased incidence of congenital hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency by H SAG˘ LAM, L BÜYÜKUYSAL, N KÖKSAL… – Pediatrics …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library

Iodine deficiency as a cause of brain damage by F Delange – 2001 –

The story of iodine deficiency: an international challenge in nutritioncontinued. by BS Hetzel – 1989 –

Risks of iodine-induced hyperthyroidism after correction of iodine deficiency by iodized salt by F Delange, B De Benoist, D Alnwick – Thyroid, 1999 –

Micronutrient deficiency disorders amongst pregnant women in three urban slum communities of Delhi by U Kapil, P Pathak, M Tandon, C Singh… – Indian …, 1999 –

Health consequences of iodine deficiency by U Kapil – Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 2007 –

Specific deficiencies versus growth failure: type I and type II nutrients. by MH Golden – SCN news, 1995 –

Silent iodine prophylaxis in Western Europe only partly corrects iodine deficiency; the case of Belgium by F Delange, A Van Onderbergen… – European Journal …, 2000 –

T3 toxicosis in an iodine-deficient area by CS Hollander, T Mitsuma, L Shenkman, C Stevenson… – The Lancet, 1972 – Elsevier