Iodine is a trace mineral found naturally in foods, added to various foods, and can be obtained in supplement form. It contributes to the manufacture of our thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which play a role in the manufacture of proteins, the general functioning of our metabolism and the conversion into usable body substances.

Benefits of iodine

In utero and during infancy, iodine plays an important role in the development of your central nervous system and your skeleton. The amount of iodine received by breastfed babies depends on the amount absorbed by their mother.

Recommended intakes of iodine

Iodine deficiency is the most catastrophic for the developing brain. Therefore, the requirements during pregnancy and lactation are much higher. The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for iodine are as follows:

From birth to 6 months: 110 micrograms (mcg).
From 7 to 12 months: 130 micrograms.
1 to 3 years: 90 mcg
4 to 8 years: 90 mcg
9 to 13 years: 120 mcg
14 to 18 years: 150 mcg
19 years and older: 150 mcg
Pregnancy: 220 mcg
Breastfeeding: 290 mcg

RDAs are set to indicate the amount needed to meet the needs of 97-98% of healthy people.

Signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency

You develop goiter

Your thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. In case of iodine deficiency, the thyroid can become enlarged, which is called goiter. This can make swallowing and breathing difficult.

Thyroid function is slowed down.

This is called hypothyroidism. The causes of an underactive thyroid are far more common than iodine deficiency, including pituitary problems and autoimmune diseases.
Hypothyroidism can make you feel cold, slow cognitive functions and cause low morale.

You have pregnancy complications

Because iodine is essential for fetal development, severe deficiency can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and birth defects.

Causes and risk factors of iodine deficiency

An iodine deficiency occurs when your body does not have enough of this element. Iodine deficiency has always been low. But some groups may be at higher risk.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher iodine needs due to iodine’s role in fetal, brain and growing baby development. Pregnant women should consume at least 220 mcg per day. Nursing women need 290 mcg.

People on strict diets

You can try a fad diet to lose weight, but sometimes these dietary approaches can have unintended consequences. Whether you’re eliminating a few foods or food groups in an effort to improve your health, control a food allergy, or manage a health condition, diets that eliminate large-scale food groups need to be looked at more closely. .
Foods rich in iodine are dairy products, cereals, seafood and iodized salt. A small study looking at iodine levels in people following a vegetarian diet concluded that these groups may be at higher risk of deficiency. A 2017 study found that following a paleo diet can also increase the chances of missing out on this nutrient.

Patients with hypertension

If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, your doctor may have advised you to reduce your salt intake. For this reason, you may be concerned that eating less salt puts you at risk of deficiency. Here’s what you need to know: If you’re already iodine deficient and on a low-sodium diet, your iodine levels are likely to worsen. But if your initial level is sufficient, reducing your salt intake is safe and not likely to lead to a deficiency. If you have high blood pressure and are concerned about dietary changes, talk to your doctor.

Use of “fancy” salts

Another important point to note: not all salts, including pink Himalayan salt, are iodized. If you think you may be at risk of a deficiency, consult a dietitian to ensure you are getting enough of this element in your diet.

People with other nutrient deficiencies

Other uncommon nutritional deficiencies, such as iron, selenium, vitamin A, and possibly zinc, may impact iodine nutrition and thyroid function, although further studies are needed. There may be a cumulative effect on the risk of deficiency when you fall into one or more high-risk categories.

People at risk who eat foods high in goitrogens

Goitrogens are substances found in certain foods that prevent iodine from reaching the thyroid. Goitrogenic foods may not cause true iodine deficiency if your diet contains enough of it. But if your iodine intake is already low, goitrogens can have an aggravating effect. Foods high in goitrogens include:

Brussels sprouts
Just know that you should only limit these foods if you have an active or borderline iodine deficiency.

How to diagnose iodine deficiency?

Generally, iodine deficiency is not diagnosed in individuals, but urine iodine levels are examined at the population level to determine if a community as a whole is deficient or at increased risk of deficiency. However, if your doctor suspects that you have iodine deficiency, this condition can be diagnosed on an individual basis using blood tests that measure thyroid hormones.

Prognosis of iodine deficiency

Consuming foods or supplements recommended by your doctor will help increase the level of iodine in your body. You may also need to undergo treatment if iodine deficiency leads to health problems. For example, if you have goiter (enlarged thyroid) caused by a lack of iodine in your diet (there are other reasons for goiter), the use of iodized salt, or the consumption of seafood two times a week is a remedy that can give you the amount your body needs.

Duration of iodine deficiency

Some research indicates that iodine supplements are effective in bringing levels back to normal. A small study in young women found that supplementing iodine with 150 mcg per day increased urinary concentrations of the mineral 1.8 times after 45 days. After 90 days of supplementation, the number of study participants who had sufficient iodine levels increased by 42%. The authors concluded that a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin containing iodine, taken before conception or early in pregnancy, can sufficiently replenish iodine stores in people who are deficient.

If you don’t show signs of iodine deficiency, do you need a supplement?

Most people living in Europe do not need to take an iodine supplement, but if you fall into one or more of the high-risk categories, you may want to consider it. Remember that the tolerable upper limit is 1100 mcg for adults. Ask your doctor or nutritionist for advice before starting supplementation, as there may be interactions with over-the-counter or prescription medications you are taking. That said, topical and oral iodine supplementation has shown some effectiveness for:

Venus leg ulcers (topical)
Iodine deficiency and insufficiency
Hypothyroidism (only in case of iodine deficiency; excess iodine can also cause hypothyroidism)
Fibrocystic breast disease
Reduced risk of infection from catheters and surgical incisions (topical)

Most supplements come in the form of potassium iodide and sodium iodide, but there are other options, including kelp (a type of seaweed). Most multivitamins contain iodine (check the label carefully). Many supplements on the market contain amounts of iodine well above the tolerable upper limit of 1,100 mcg per day, so be careful not to exceed this amount without consulting your doctor or pharmacist first.

Curiously, excessive iodine intake can have the same effects as insufficient intake, for example, both effects can lead to goiter, elevated thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and hypothyroidism. Therefore, do not treat your symptoms on your own. Get a proper diagnosis first, then work with your doctor to stabilize your iodine levels.

What are the best dietary sources of iodine?

The best way to prevent deficiencies is to get more iodine in your diet. At the population level, this is done primarily through the salt iodization program, which individuals then add to their food when cooking. If you’re worried about not getting enough iodine, you can eat foods that contain this mineral. The recommended daily value (DV) of iodine for adults is 150 mcg. Any food that provides 10% or more iodine is considered a good source of this element.

Here are some foods rich in iodine:

Seaweed, whole or in sheets (1 g): 16 to 2,984 mcg (between 11 and 1,989 percent DV, depending on water source)
Baked cod: 99 mcg (66% DV)
Low-fat plain yogurt (1 cup): 75 mcg (50% DV)
Medium white potatoes with skin: 60 mcg (40% DV)
Reduced fat milk (1 cup): 56 mcg (37% Daily Value)
Fish fingers (3 oz): 54 mcg (36% DV)
Shrimp: 35 mcg (23 percent DV)
Iodized salt (¼ teaspoon): 71 mcg (47 percent DV)

Prevention of iodine deficiency

Although iodine deficiency is not common in Western countries, you can prevent it by eating a varied diet, including good food sources of iodine, such as seafood and yogurt. Cooking with iodized salt is one of the main ways to maintain adequate levels, but that doesn’t mean you have to add salt to your foods in order to meet your iodine quota.
If you are in a high-risk group, such as if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, take a multivitamin or prenatal supplement that contains iodine. Other people who are concerned about the amount of iodine in their diet or who have thyroid disease (caused by iodine deficiency) should consult their doctor to see if a supplement is needed.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.