10 Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Medically Reviewed on 7/8/2022
10 Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
Iodine insufficiency has numerous symptoms, all of which are connected to the thyroid's impact.

Iodine is a mineral necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Although required in small amounts, iodine must be obtained through your diet because the body cannot produce it. Iodine is an essential micronutrient.

  • When you do not consume enough iodine, you cannot produce enough thyroid hormone in your body.
  • Consequently, iodine shortage can lead to enlargement of the thyroid (goiter), hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), and intellectual impairments in infants and kids whose mothers did not get enough iodine throughout pregnancy.
  • Iodine is a necessary component of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
  • Thyroid hormones are crucial regulators of metabolic activity and control several vital biochemical processes, such as protein synthesis and enzyme activity. They are necessary for the healthy growth of the skeletal, reproductive, and neurological systems in fetuses and infants.

Recommendations for daily intake of iodine

According to the Institute of Medicine, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine in adult men and women is 150 µg per day.

  • Iodized salt should be used by people who frequently season their meals with salt when cooking or at the table.
  • One teaspoon of iodized salt in the United States and Canada has about 250 µg of iodine in it.
  • Most iodine-containing multivitamins sold in the United States to adults who are not pregnant have at least 150 µg of iodine.
  • The RDA for iodine is 220 µg for pregnant and 290 µg for breastfeeding women.
  • The American Thyroid Association has advised that all American women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding to take a prenatal multivitamin containing 150 µg of iodine per day because the effects of iodine deficiency are most severe in pregnant women and their unborn children.


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10 iodine deficiency symptoms

Iodine deficiency is the most prevalent and preventable cause of intellectual disability in the world and has numerous detrimental impacts on growth and development. Iodine deficiency disorders are caused by insufficient thyroid hormone production as a result of an iodine deficit. Iodine deficiency can have serious effects throughout pregnancy and the first few months of infancy.

Iodine insufficiency has numerous symptoms, all of which are connected to the thyroid's impact.

  1. Gaining weight: Unexpected weight gain is one of the most observable symptoms of an iodine shortage.
    • A person who has a good metabolism burns calories to produce energy. The lack of thyroid hormones in hypothyroidism decreases metabolism.
    • Calories are more likely to be stored as fat when your metabolism slows down, which might result in weight gain.
    • However, weight gain is not necessarily an indication of iodine insufficiency.
    • If there is no other explanation for the weight gain, it might merely be a symptom. Eating more calories than necessary and not exercising enough are the two more frequently cited causes of weight gain.
  2. Swollen neck: The most typical sign of iodine deficiency is swelling in the front of the neck (goiter). The thyroid will attempt to absorb more iodine from the blood when it is deficient in iodine. As a result, the thyroid enlarges, giving the neck the appearance of being swollen.
  3. Hair loss: The growth of hair follicles is regulated by thyroid hormones. Hair follicles may stop rebuilding if your thyroid hormone levels are low. This could eventually lead to hair loss. As a result, a lack of iodine may cause hair loss in some individuals. If you have thyroid hormone imbalances and have hair loss as a result, consuming enough iodine may help you stop hair loss.
  4. Fatigue: Common signs of an iodine deficit include weakness and fatigue. Thyroid hormones assist the body to produce energy. The body's capacity to produce energy is reduced when thyroid hormone levels are low. You can feel exhausted and lose energy as a result of this.
  5. Being unable to tolerate cold temperatures: Your metabolism is influenced by thyroid hormones, and it can slow down if your thyroid hormone levels are low.
    • Slower metabolism produces less heat, and you could feel colder than usual.
    • Additionally, thyroid hormones boost brown fat, a form of fat that excels at producing heat, by enhancing its activity.
    • This indicates that brown fat may not function properly if thyroid hormone levels are low, which could be brought on by iodine deficiency.
  6. Having dry, coarse skin: Iodine-containing thyroid hormones promote skin cell renewal. This regeneration does not happen as frequently when thyroid hormone levels are insufficient, which could result in dry, flaky skin.
    • Thyroid hormones help the body control sweating.
    • Sweating is typically reduced in those with low thyroid hormone levels, such as those with iodine deficiency.
    • Because perspiration helps keep your skin hydrated and moist, a lack of sweat may contribute to dry, flaky skin associated with iodine deficiency.
  7. Having frequent and heavy menstrual periods: Compared to healthy women, women with low thyroid hormone levels had irregular menstrual cycles.
    • Additionally, studies have reported that women with low thyroid hormone levels had heavier and more frequent menstrual periods.
    • This occurs because the hormones involved in the menstrual cycle get affected due to low thyroid hormone levels.
  8. Slow heartbeat: If you consume too little or too much iodine, your heart may beat more slowly or quickly than usual. An unusually slow heartbeat may result from a severe iodine deficit. You can feel tired, worn out, dizzy, and even faint.
  9. Cognitive decline: Your capacity to learn and recall things could be impacted by iodine deficiency.
    • Comparatively, those with normal thyroid hormone levels demonstrated superior performance on learning and memory tests.
    • A lack of iodine, which is needed to produce thyroid hormones, can inhibit brain growth.
    • Studies have reported that those with low thyroid hormone levels had smaller hippocampus, the area of the brain that regulates long-term memory.
  10. Pregnancy complications: Iodine deficiency is a serious risk for pregnant women. Therefore, they must eat enough to cover both their and the baby’s daily demands.
    • Because babies consume iodine through breast milk, the increased demand for iodine lasts the duration of lactation.
    • Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and lactation can have negative effects on the mother and fetus.
    • Goiter, weakness, fatigue, and a cold feeling are some of the underactive thyroid symptoms that mothers may encounter.
    • Infants who are iodine deficient may experience impaired physical and mental development. A severe iodine deficiency may make stillbirths more likely.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/8/2022
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National Institutes of Health. Iodine. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/

American Thyroid Association. Iodine Deficiency. https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/IodineDeficiency_brochure.pdf

Cleveland Clinic. Hypothyroidism. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12120-hypothyroidism

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American Thyroid Association. Hypothyroidism. https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hypothyroidism_web_booklet.pdf

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