The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently announced that iodine deficiency is the most common yet easy to prevent the cause of impaired cognition development all over the world. All in all, there are around thirty million people worldwide suffering from this condition.
Iodine is a mineral and component of hormones in the thyroid. These hormones, thyroxine, and triiodothyronine regulate the cells’ metabolic function and are imperative to the growth and development of organs. The brain especially is affected by these hormones. When a person doesn’t consume enough iodine then there will not be enough of these hormones produced, thereby leading to problems with the brain, muscles, heart, kidneys, and liver.
Some amazing iodine statistics include:
- Iodine levels have decreased by 50 percent in the past three decades.
- The WHO states that 72% of the population worldwide has an iodine deficiency.
- Out of more that 5,000 patients tested, more than 96% off them have an iodine deficiency.
- Iodized salt was available to 70% of households worldwide in 2011.
There are a number of different symptoms that can arise when you are suffering from an iodine deficiency. IDD (Iodine deficiency disorders) are what happens when a person suffers from an iodine deficiency for a long time. Some of the more common IDD is increased cholesterol, hypothyroidism, breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, endemic goiter, a decrease in fertility, cretinism, an increase in infant mortality, and atherosclerosis.
Iodine Deficiency Symptoms
There are a number of symptoms that you can watch for that may indicate an iodine deficiency. These can include dry skin, memory problems, cold sensitivity, thinning of the hair, breathing problems, kidney problems, muscle weakness, depression, hard time losing weight, headaches and memory problems, fatigue, constipation, and cold extremities.
Goiters occur when a person is suffering from an iodine deficiency and the body causes the thyroid gland to swell in hopes of being able to absorb more iodine. According to the FDA, consuming 150 micrograms of iodine daily will eliminate goiters.
There are six main risk factors that may cause an iodine deficiency
Read on for more information and to see how you can combat these risks.
- Not getting enough iodine through your diet. Some areas of the world that experience frequent flooding may not have enough iodine in the soil. When food is grown in this soil it too becomes deficient in iodine. While iodine is primarily obtained in your diet, it can be added by supplementation. Adding seaweed to your diet as well as onions, garlic, turnips, nuts, and seeds is a great way to increase your iodine levels naturally.
- A deficiency of selenium. When you suffer from iodine deficiency as well as a deficiency of selenium, you can have an imbalanced thyroid. This is when you may develop a goiter. Making sure that your body has enough selenium in it is crucial to keeping the thyroid healthy and able to produce hormones without working too hard.
- Being pregnant. Women who are pregnant are at a risk of having low iodine levels. About 1/3 of all pregnant women suffer from this, but not all of them take supplements to help their babies. When a major iodine deficiency occurs, there can be stunted growth, both physical and mental.
- Smoke from cigarettes and cigars. Tobacco smoke contains thiocyanate, which has a negative effect on the uptake of iodine. It actually inhibits your body being able to use it. Along with thiocyanate, there are other substances contained in smoke that can also affect your thyroid and its function.
- Water that has been chlorinated and fluoridated. When fluoride and chlorine are present in drinking water, drinking that water can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb iodine. This can have a negative effect on the IQ of children who drink this tap water.
- Foods that contain goitrogens. Raw vegetables from the Brassica family contain goitrogens that will impair peroxidase when consumed raw. These vegetables include kale, soy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. It is best to steam or cook these vegetables before consuming them, especially if you already have an iodine deficiency.
Preventing an Iodine Deficiency
Remember that it’s recommended that you get some iodine each day in your diet. The recommendations are as follows:
- 90 micrograms/day for ages 1-8
- 120 micrograms/day for ages 9-13
- 150 micrograms/day for ages 14+
- 290 micrograms/day for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
Eating foods that contain high levels of iodine can be easy if you vary your diet. Some of the best foods to eat are baked potato, baked cod, seaweed, cranberries, plain low-fat yogurt, raw milk, navy beans, shrimp, eggs, and dried prunes. More than 70 countries throughout the world add iodine to their salt to try to prevent deficiencies.
There are many benefits of iodine, including:
- Controlling your metabolic rate. Iodine has a great influence on the thyroid, which produces hormones that control your metabolic rate.
- Keep your energy up. Iodine helps your body use calories and prevents them from being stored as fat.
- Prevent cancer. Some kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer, can be slowed or stopped with iodine consumption. Iodine won’t harm healthy cells but will destroy mutated ones.
- Cleanse your body of toxic chemicals. Chemicals such as mercury and lead can accumulate in your body, but iodine has antioxidant properties that will rid you of them.
- Raise Immunity. The thyroid keeps your immune system active and healthy, and a diet with plenty of Iodine supports thyroid health.
- Keeps skin shiny and healthy. When you suffer from an iodine deficiency you will have dry, rough skin and flat and brittle hair.
- Promote thyroid health. Iodine will prevent you from forming goiters and keep your thyroid working correctly.
- Help children develop normally. Pregnant women who have low iodine levels put their babies at risk for brain development problems and growth issues.
Make sure that you don’t overdose on iodine, especially if you have a thyroid problem. Otherwise, you can naturally increase your iodine levels through delicious recipes such as egg salad, seaweed miso soup, and a yogurt berry smoothie to start your day!