Contributed by – Rachana Arya
Iodine is an overlooked nutrient when it comes to your health, and yet it plays a significant role in almost each of your day-to-day bodily functions. Iodine is an essential element which is needed by your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones. If you do not have an adequate intake of dietary iodine, your body cannot make enough thyroid hormone. This affects many parts of the body, particularly the heart, developing brain, liver, kidneys, and muscles. The World Health Organization calls iodine deficiency “the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.
But don’t worry! Iodine deficiency is relatively easy to correct in most people. The hard part is identifying the symptoms and recognizing the issue.
Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
One condition that can be induced by iodine deficiency is hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid doesn’t produce the hormones it typically creates. Other signs could include but are not limited to unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance, anxiety, constipation, and fatigue.
Health Consequences of Iodine Deficiency May Include:
- Mental retardation
- Ovarian Cysts
- Brain fog
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Oestrogen imbalance
- Decreased fertility
- Breast cancers
[Also read – A guidebook on untreated thyroid disorders]
How Much Iodine Do I Need?
Everyone needs iodine, but the amount of iodine you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg).
TABLE 1: RECOMMENDED INTAKE OF IODINE
|Life Stage||Recommended daily allowance (RDA)|
|Birth to 6 months||110 mcg|
|Infants 7–12 months||130 mcg|
|Children 1–8 years||90 mcg|
|Children 9–13 years||120 mcg|
|Teens 14–18 years||150 mcg|
|Pregnant teens and women||220 mcg|
|Breastfeeding teens and women||290 mcg|
*Source: National Institutes of Health
TABLE 2: COMMON SOURCES OF DIETARY IODINE
Unlike nutrients such as iron, calcium, or vitamins, the body does not make iodine, so the only way to get this important nutrient is through your diet. About 90% of iodine intake is obtained from food consumed and the remaining from water. Here are the best foods with iodine:
Iodized table salt
Prunes and raisins
[Also read – Diet for hypothyroidism – What to eat and what to avoid]
Reducing Your Risk of Iodine Deficiency
You may be able to reduce the burden of disorders related to iodine deficiency by:
- Cooking with iodized salt
- Eating foods grown in iodine-rich soils
- Eating dairy products, seafood, or seaweed
- Taking iodine-containing supplements
The Iodine Deficiency Test
Since iodine is released from the body through the urine, the best way to determine its deficiency is by checking the urinary iodine concentration. This is a simple and accurate test to identify if you are deficient in iodine. Another common iodine test is a blood test, which is another quick and easy way to check levels of iodine.
Remember, complications of untreated or poorly controlled iodine deficiency can be serious. The need of the hour is a greater awareness on this oft-forgotten micronutrient.
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