Common Iodine Deficiency Symptoms and Preventive Measures

Iodine deficiency is one of the most common causes of thyroid disorder and thus proper awareness about the iodine deficiency symptoms is very important. We know that taking a healthy balanced diet is the key to remain fit and free from diseases.

In addition to nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins and fats in sufficient amount, our body also requires certain minerals. One such important mineral is iodine that is responsible for regulation and synthesis of thyroid hormones. Though the iodine deficiency cases have reduced considerably in developed countries, few cases are still reported.

This is due to lack of awareness regarding iodized salt or importance of iodine in our diet especially in underdeveloped countries. In order to treat the iodine deficiency, it is quite important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency.

Significance and Requirement of Iodine

Our body requires a number of nutrients in sufficient amounts in order to function properly. In order to provide these nutrients, we need to take a balanced diet. Minerals are also required by the body and the deficiency of these minerals can result in different diseases.

For instance, iron deficiency manifests in the form of anemia. One of the most important mineral required by our body is iodine. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones in the body.

The thyroid hormones are associated with a number of functions like mental growth, body metabolism and reproduction. About 150 mcg of iodine is required to be taken every day. This amount is less in case of children. Less intake of iodine results in iodine deficiency disorder.

Common Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

Various symptoms of iodine deficiency are as follows:

1)    Goiter: Goiter is a common problem caused due to lack of iodine in the body. In case of goiter the thyroid gland gets enlarged. It can result in further complications like swallowing problems or difficult breathing.

2)    Reduced mental growth: Iodine deficiency symptoms manifest in the form of reduced mental growth in children. This condition is called cretinism and the affected children are reported to have comparatively poor IQ.

The children who do not get sufficient iodine are generally retarded mentally in comparison to normal children. They are not able to learn properly and have poor cognition skills. If a woman does not get sufficient iodine during pregnancy, the newborn also gets affected.

3)    Decreased thyroid hormone production in the body: Since iodine is involved with the synthesis and regulation of thyroid hormones in the body, lack of iodine in diet decreases the thyroid production.

This can result in a condition called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism produces a number of physical effects that can be easily recognized. Hypothyroidism results in dry skin, constipation, tiredness, inability to concentrate and unusual weight changes.

4)    Urinary Dysfunction: A lot of research is being done to establish connection between iodine deficiency and prostate cancer. Now as urinary dysfunction is caused due to prostate cancer, we can say that iodine deficiency may result in urinary dysfunction.

5)    Lowered immunity: It is a common observation that the people with iodine deficiency can easily get infected with diseases like cold and flu. This is because of the fact that thyroid gland becomes susceptible to accumulation of other free radicals.

6)    Heavy Breasts: Heavy breasts can also be a sign for iodine deficiency. In fact, researches are being done to establish relation between iodine deficiency and breast cancer.

7)    Anxiety: Lack of iodine in the body disrupts the normal hormonal balance in the body that can result in various emotional problems like stress and anxiety.

8)    Slowed Metabolism: Iodine deficiency also lowers the metabolism rate in the body which can further result in unusual weight gain and difficulty in walking.

Complications associated with Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

There are a number of complications associated with iodine deficiency symptoms. For instance, if proper remedial measures are not taken in a pregnant woman with such symptoms, it can prove to be fatal.

It can result in situations like miscarriage, unhealthy baby, preterm delivery or abnormal baby. The newborn is also at the risk of being mentally retarded. At such, if the symptoms manifest in a pregnant woman, it should be reported to the doctor instantly.

Measures to handle Iodine Deficiency Symptoms

The best way to relieve iodine deficiency symptoms is to use iodized salts. It is seen that people in rural areas are not aware about the importance of iodized salt and thus face this deficiency. Proper awareness should be spread regarding this matter and the possible complications due to iodine deficiency.

Moreover, people should also be informed about the symptoms of other mineral deficiency. This way the iodine deficiency symptoms will not get confused with iron deficiency symptoms or magnesium deficiency symptoms.

Some of the other rich sources of iodine are egg, milk, yogurt and fish. Thus by including these items in your diet, you will remain healthy and free from iodine deficiency symptoms. These days multivitamins containing proper iodine amount are also available in the market.

Since these multivitamins contain other nutrients too, it helps the diseased child to gain mental and physical strength. Another important thing regarding iodine intake is that taking excess iodine is also bad for the body.

Iodine overdose can worsen the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Thus the iodine overdose symptoms also need to be monitored in patients being provided iodine through drugs or radiology procedures.

An important precaution here is that one should also avoid the food items or drugs that are known to impair iodine absorption. Taking such items that decreases the iodine absorption in the body will make the person iodine deficient even if he takes proper amount of iodine.

For instance, iodine and spinach are capable of reducing the iodine absorption. Another possible cause of iodine deficiency is the fluoride present in drinking water supplies. This can be handled by using an effective filter that removes the fluoride from the water supply. These simple methods are capable of relieving all the iodine deficiency symptoms if followed properly.

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