Low Iodine Symptoms | Iodine Deficiency Symptoms
Iodine deficiency is a global health problem. In fact, around two billion people are at risk of developing an iodine deficiency disorder. This condition can lead to physical and mental health consequences.
Here are 10 low iodine symptoms you have to watch out for so you can catch this disorder early and prevent its detrimental effects.
What You Need to Know About Iodine Deficiency | 10 Low Iodine Symptoms
What Is Iodine?
Iodine is a key mineral that your thyroid gland uses to produce thyroid hormones. Your thyroid hormones boost your metabolism, regulate your heartbeat, and control your digestive and muscular functions.
However, your body doesn’t naturally produce iodine. You can find this element in supplements and foods, such as:
- Seafood, particularly shrimp, cod, and seaweed
- Dairy products, like yogurt and milk
- Iodized salt
If you don’t have an adequate amount of iodine in your body, your thyroid gland won’t be able to make sufficient hormones. This condition is called hypothyroidism.
What Are the Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency?
If your iodine’s low, you may experience uncomfortable or even severe symptoms. And since iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism are associated with each other, these symptoms may be similar to those of hypothyroidism.
1. Weakness and Fatigue
Frailty and tiredness are low iodine symptoms.
As a matter of fact, almost 80% of individuals with hypothyroidism feel worn out, inactive, and powerless.
For instance, if lifting heavy objects used to be an easy task, you may now find it difficult and stressful to do.
This occurs because your thyroid hormones help in energy production. They increase your metabolic rate. Therefore, when these hormone levels are low, you burn fewer calories.
Fewer calories may result in low energy. And limited energy levels mean less efficient muscles. This leaves you feeling weak and exhausted.
2. Feeling Cold
Being more sensitive to low temperatures is a common low iodine symptom.
Studies show that more than 80% of individuals with low levels of thyroid hormones may feel colder than usual.
Your thyroid hormones speed up your metabolism. So when your hormone levels are low, your metabolic rate may slow down. And as your metabolism declines, your body produces less warmth. This may cause you to always feel cold.
Additionally, thyroid hormones regulate a special type of fat, called brown adipose tissue or brown fat. Brown fat makes heat so your body can sustain cold conditions. Low thyroid hormones can prevent this fat from producing heat in your body.
3. Abnormal Menstruation
Is your menstrual flow heavier than usual? Is your menstrual cycle more than 38 days?
If so, these are low iodine symptoms.
This occurs because the hormones that regulate your period are disrupted if you have hypothyroidism and low iodine levels.
If you’re deficient in iodine, your thyroid gland will expand, as it tries to compensate for this deficiency. It’ll work harder to raise its production of hormones.
When this happens, your cells grow and multiply. Then, once your thyroid becomes swollen, it develops a visible lump in front of your neck, known as a goiter.
A goiter can make it hard for you to breathe and swallow. There’s even a possibility of choking.
Thankfully, increasing your iodine consumption can treat this condition. But if it’s left untreated for several years, it can result in permanent thyroid damage.
5. Hair Loss
It’s natural to shed around 50 to 100 hair strands per day. Your hair follicles replace these lost strands.
However, if you have low levels of iodine and thyroid hormones, your hair may stop growing.
This is because thyroid hormones help in the renewal of your hair. They stimulate your follicles. Therefore, iodine deficiency may cause poor hair growth, which can eventually lead to hair loss.
6. Slow Heart Rate
Your heart rate, also called as pulse, refers to how fast your heart contracts or beats per minute. And your iodine levels can affect the speed of your heartbeat.
If you have iodine deficiency, your heart tends to contract slower than usual. This can leave you feeling lightheaded, tired, and sick. It can even possibly cause you to pass out.
7. Unintentional Weight Gain
Putting on weight unexpectedly is a symptom of low iodine.
As we mentioned earlier, thyroid hormones increase metabolic processes.
Normal levels of iodine and thyroid hormones mean healthy metabolism. On the other hand, low levels of these minerals and hormones entail slow metabolism.
When your metabolism slows down, you burn fewer calories. Additionally, your body stores the calories you consume as fat. This results in more pounds on the weighing scale.
However, keep in mind that there are still other causes of weight gain, such as eating more calories and a sedentary lifestyle.
8. Dry Skin
If you have low iodine, you may experience scaling or peeling skin.
This is because thyroid and iodine-containing hormones help heal and regenerate skin cells. So when these hormones are low, skin repair and rejuvenation don’t occur as often. Dead skin cells may build up. This causes your skin to become dry and flaky.
Furthermore, thyroid hormones help regulate your sweat glands. When these hormones are low, your sweating reduces. And since sweat hydrates and moisturizes your skin, a lack of it may also lead to dry skin.
9. Pregnancy Complications
Iodine is vital for a baby’s brain and bone development. However, those who are pregnant are at a high risk of developing iodine deficiency.
This is because you have to support the iodine requirement for both your own body plus for the growing baby inside you.
If you’re having problems with your pregnancy, it may mean that you’re low in iodine. And extreme iodine deficiency may lead to:
- Preterm birth
It’s also important to note that having iodine deficiency while pregnant may cause problems for your baby as well, such as:
- Walking abnormality
- Mental retardation
- Growth disorders
10. Cognitive Impairment
Are you having a hard time learning and remembering? This can be a symptom of low iodine.
In fact, based on a study, individuals with low thyroid hormone levels have a smaller hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s involved in learning and memory.
Iodine is a crucial element that helps keep your thyroid gland working properly. And your thyroid plays a vital role in several bodily functions. This is why it’s important to be mindful of your iodine levels.
Apart from keeping an eye on these low iodine symptoms, ensure to get enough iodine through your diet. And visit your healthcare provider so they can check for other iodine deficiency symptoms in your body.
Do you know of any other good sources of iodine? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!
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