But My Blood Test Is Normal
To track down iodine deficiency, there is a commonly used but inaccurate test: measuring TSH levels in the blood.
Measuring TSH levels is not a good way to track down iodine deficiency. TSH levels can be normal while one still can be iodine deficient . Also, for iodine screening in the population, TSH levels are preferably not used .
A better test is giving people a very high dose of iodine and then measuring iodine secretion during 24 hours in the urine, but very few medical doctors have experience with this test. However, even this test is not perfect.
Also, TSH levels can fluctuate considerably over the day. So in the morning your TSH can be normal, while in the evening it can be 30% lower and abnormal.
So the question is: how do you find out if you have enough iodine?
Well, as we just mentioned, if you dont take high-dose iodine supplements or dont eat seaweed regularly, its very likely you dont take in enough iodine.
An Early Sign Youre Low
One of the first things you might notice is swelling in the neck. Sometimes called a goiter, itâs really an inflamed thyroid gland. In some cases, it can have growths, called nodules, that can make it hard to breathe and swallow, and may get worse when you lie down. But a number of things can cause a goiter, so donât assume right away itâs because of low iodine. Itâs best to talk to your doctor to find out more.
Some Iodine Supplements Are Far Too Strong
Recently we are seeing a large number of patients at our clinics who have been buying iodine supplements from health food stores or the internet which are far too potent and potentially harmful. Some people have read about iodine on the internet and decide to take mega dose supplements in an effort to fix their thyroid condition, or as an alternative to prescription thyroid hormones. This does not work and is potentially dangerous.
Taking too much iodine can worsen an under active thyroid, or may cause an over active thyroid or may cause acne. We recommend you keep your iodine intake from supplements below 1000mcg per day. An ideal dose would be around 300 to 500mcg per day. Some research has shown that 47 percent of people taking more than 1000mcg of iodine developed a thyroid problem. Taking an excessively high dose of iodine if you have been iodine deficient for a long time is particularly dangerous. It is really best to take it slow and steady when it comes to iodine supplements.
Thyroid Health capsules contain 160mcg of iodine and a daily dose is one to two capsules. Thyroid Health capsules also contain vitamin D, selenium and zinc, which are all required for a healthy thyroid gland, and adequate hormone production.
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Taking Iodine Alone Will Not Fix Your Thyroid Problem
I have found that in most cases, there are several contributing factors that lead to thyroid conditions. Deficiencies of selenium, zinc and vitamin D are also very prevalent and that can impair thyroid function. Also, most thyroid problems are actually caused by autoimmune disease. That means the immune system produces antibodies and inflammatory chemicals that disrupt thyroid hormone levels. I have written about our treatment of thyroid conditions in great detail in the book Your Thyroid Problems Solved. If your thyroid gland is mildly under active, Natural Thyroid Cream provides T4 and T3 thyroid hormones.
Learning Or Memory Problems
Thyroid hormones are important for brain development. Iodine deficiency may cause a lack of these hormones, resulting in problems with memory and learning new things.
A found that the hippocampus was smaller in people with low levels of thyroid hormones. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that affects memory.
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Research On The Effects Of A Low Iodine Diet
The potential benefits of a low iodine diet were demonstrated by one study after researchers observed an interesting phenomenon. When using radioactive iodine as a tool for determining thyroid health in a Radioiodine Uptake Test , doctors have found that the procedure works best when the thyroid is hungry for that iodine. As such, they have their patients go on low-iodine diets for several weeks so that their thyroid will take in as much of the radioactive iodine as possible before the procedure.
Researchers have discovered that many people see their thyroid function improve during this period, and wondered if it were just a coincidence or if there was a correlation. They launched clinical trials in which people with significant thyroid disease were put on low-iodine diets and were compared against others with the same degree of thyroid disease who were not on a low-iodine diet. Neither group was given thyroid medication, or any other treatment.
The studies all showed that nearly everyone who was not on the diet saw no improvement to their thyroid function or got worse, while up to 80 percent of those who were on the low-iodine diet experienced normal thyroid function within three to six months.
Assessment Of Iodine Nutrition And Measurement Of Iodine Content
Most methods of measuring iodine sufficiency have focused on field studies of iodine deficiency18,19), because elimination of iodine deficiency disorders has been an integral component of many national nutrition strategies since 1990.
Assessment of the size of the thyroid is the historical method to evaluate iodine nutrition because iodine deficiency is associated with an increased goiter rate19). In areas of moderate to severe iodine deficiency, iodine status had been assessed by goiter palpation. In contrast, in areas of mild iodine deficiency, where goiters are smaller, palpation of goiters has poor sensitivity and specificity, so measurement of thyroid volume by ultrasound is preferable. In 1992, the World Health Organization , together with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders , simplified the previous goiter classification grade 0 was defined as a thyroid that is not palpable or visible grade 1 was defined as an enlarged gland that is palpable but not visible when the neck is in the normal position and the previous stages 2 and 3 were combined into a single new grade 2, defined as a thyroid that is clearly visible when the neck is in the normal position20).
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Preventive Supplementation When You Have Thyroid Disease
Some healthcare providers are almost knee-jerk in their insistence that anyone with a thyroid problem requires iodine supplementation alternative healthcare providers may recommend iodine-containing herbs, like kelp or seaweed.
This can be particularly risky, in part because iodine supplements can interact with several types of drugs, including anti-thyroid drugs used to treat hyperthyroidism. Taking high doses of iodine with anti-thyroid medications can have an additive effect and could cause hypothyroidism.
If iodine deficiency isn’t the cause of hypothyroidism, then iodine supplements won’t be helpful.
You’ll want to be very careful about upping your iodine intake unless you and your healthcare provider have some very strong evidence that you’re deficient. This is especially true if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Importance Of Iodine During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Women require higher levels of thyroid hormone during pregnancy, which means — you guessed it — they require more iodine during pregnancy too. They also require more iodine while breastfeeding.
Most prenatal vitamins contain enough iodine to meet the daily requirements for pregnancy. If you are concerned that you may not be getting enough iodine during pregnancy or lactation, try incorporating high-iodine foods into your diet regularly.
There are risks associated with being deficient in iodine while pregnant or lactating. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements:
âIn pregnant women, severe iodine deficiency can permanently harm the fetus by causing stunted growth, intellectual disability, and delayed sexual development. Less severe iodine deficiency can cause lower-than-average IQ in infants and children and decrease adultsâ ability to work and think clearly.â
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Feeling Colder Than Usual
Feeling cold is a common symptom of an iodine deficiency.
In fact, some studies have found that over 80% of people with low thyroid hormone levels may feel more sensitive to cold temperatures than usual .
Since iodine is used to make thyroid hormones, an iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid hormone levels to plummet.
Given that thyroid hormones help control the speed of your metabolism, low thyroid hormone levels may cause it to slow down. A slower metabolism generates less heat, which may cause you to feel colder than usual .
Also, thyroid hormones help boost the activity of your brown fat, a type of fat that specializes in generating heat. This means that low thyroid hormone levels, which may be caused by an iodine deficiency, could prevent brown fat from doing its job (
A study including over 1,000 adults found that those with higher thyroid hormone levels performed better on learning and memory tests, compared to those with lower thyroid hormone levels .
Thyroid hormones help your brain grow and develop. Thats why an iodine deficiency, which is required to make thyroid hormones, can reduce brain development .
In fact, studies have found that the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls long-term memory, appears to be smaller in people with low thyroid hormone levels .
An iodine deficiency at any age may cause you to struggle to learn and remember things. One possible reason for this might be an underdeveloped brain.
Signs And Symptoms Of Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is an essential mineral commonly found in seafood.
Your thyroid gland uses it to make thyroid hormones, which help control growth, repair damaged cells and support a healthy metabolism (
- Pregnant women.
- People who live in countries where there is very little iodine in the soil. This includes South Asia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and European countries.
- People who dont use iodized salt.
- People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
On the other hand, iodine deficiencies are rare in the US, where there are sufficient levels of the mineral in the food supply .
An iodine deficiency can cause uncomfortable and even severe symptoms. They include swelling in the neck, pregnancy-related issues, weight gain and learning difficulties.
Its symptoms are very similar to those of hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormones. Since iodine is used to make thyroid hormones, an iodine deficiency means your body cant make enough of them, leading to hypothyroidism.
Here are 10 signs and symptoms of an iodine deficiency.
Swelling in the front of the neck is the most common symptom of an iodine deficiency.
This is called a goiter and occurs when the thyroid gland grows too big.
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes thyroid hormones upon receiving a signal from the thyroid-stimulating hormone .
Unexpected weight gain is another sign of an iodine deficiency.
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What Happens If I Dont Get Enough Iodine
Everyone needs iodine in their diet for healthy thyroid function and a healthy metabolism. Hypothyroidism can be caused by a lack of iodine in the diet, which prevents the thyroid from making enough of the necessary hormones.Iodine deficiency is the single most common cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage in the world. The most alarming consequences of iodine deficiency occur during foetal and infant development. Maternal iodine deficiency may cause miscarriage, other pregnancy complications, such as premature delivery and infertility.
Thyroid hormones and therefore iodine are essential for normal development of the brain. If the foetus or newborn is not exposed to enough thyroid hormone, it may not survive or may have permanent mental retardation. Low birth weights may also result from iodine deficiency.
Iodine deficiency is a major cause of lowered IQ in children, according to leading international health authorities, including the World Health Organisation , UNICEF and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders . When the deficiency is very severe, the effect can be up to 15 IQ points lower than normal (or a reduction of 15 per cent of the average IQ.
Whats The Difference Between Iodine And Iodide
Some people get confused about iodine and iodide. Iodide is the state of iodine when it bonds with another element, such as potassium. In this form, iodine can be ingested Ingested “food, drink or another substance taken into the body by swallowing or absorbing it” or applied topically Topically “applied to body surfaces such as the skin” .
Iodine and iodide are actually different expressions Expressions “something that manifests, represents, reflects, embodies, or symbolises something else the first clinical expression of a disease” of the same element. Iodides represent a safe form of iodine for ingestion.5 When you purchase iodine from the local drug store, its usually an iodide solution. This combination allows the body to absorb and use it safely.Dietary iodine also occurs naturally as an iodide, such as potassium iodide or sodium iodide .
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How Does Iodine Cause Goiter
This is one where it goes both ways. Thats because severe deficiencies can cause goiter, as can severe iodine excess.
As of 2014, the severe levels of deficiency are longer present on planet Earth . At the same time, though, we now have 52 countries that are in varying regions of excess14.
One study revealed that areas that had high amounts of iodine in the water, these areas had a rate of goiter that was present in 65% of individuals15.
In the same area that didnt have it, goiter was virtually nonexistent. So, in this way, it is so important to remember that high iodine, too, can cause goiter.
How Iodine Initiates Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
These free radicals from the unpaired iodine, have been shown to injure the cells in both human and animal models5.
Studies have also shown that, if you give animals a mega-dose of iodine, but you pre-treat them with a drug that prevents iodine from forming free radicals, it doesnt trigger thyroid disease in the same way.
That is all to say that we know iodine in excess can be a culprit, because what its doing is heightening the production of cytokines and chemokines. These cause the cells to go after the thyroid.
In the next stage, these cells have more and more damage and become unable to make hormones. Finally, in the last step, the immune system has been alerted to this damage and become sensitized against those very thyroid cells6.
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How Is Iodine Deficiency Treated
Iodine levels can be measured in the blood or the urine. However, these tests are not good at accurately determining how much iodine is in your body and so cannot be used to diagnose iodine deficiency. When iodine deficiency is seen in an entire population, it is best managed by ensuring that common foods that people eat contain sufficient levels of iodine. Since even mild deficiency during pregnancy can have effects on a pregnancy and the developing baby, all U.S. women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding should take a multivitamin containing 150 g iodine per day.
Iodine Deficiency In Babies And Children
Iodine deficiency can cause serious problems for developing foetuses, babies and young children. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and you are iodine deficient, your baby is particularly at risk.
Iodine deficiency can permanently affect your babys growth and mental and sexual development, and put them at increased risk of intellectual disability.
Lack of iodine is a major problem in developing countries and the worlds number one cause of preventable intellectual disability in children.
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How Iodine Deficiency Can Cause Both Hypothyroidism And Hyperthyroidism
When the thyroid doesnt get enough iodine, it starts to malfunction and get damaged.
The damaged thyroid tissue attracts the immune system, which will attack this tissue and the whole thyroid, which leads to hypothyroidism . This is also sometimes called Hashimotos thyroiditis.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are tiredness, lethargy, sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, having cold hands or feet, often feeling cold or being sensitive to cold, dry skin, hair loss, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, constipation, a puffy face, brittle nails, slow heart rate, and muscle weakness.
Not all these symptoms need to be present. However, typical symptoms are brain fog, fatigue, and feeling cold.
Sometimes the body attacks the malfunctioning, damaged thyroid in such a way that it actually stimulates the thyroid. This is because the immune system forms antibodies against a specific component of the thyroid gland: the thyroid receptor.
When these antibodies latch onto the thyroid receptor, they inadvertently activate this receptor, which switches on the thyroid.
This leads to hyperthyroidism: an overactive thyroid. This overactive thyroid will produce too much thyroid hormone, which revs up our metabolism.
Most people suffer from hypothyroidism , not hyperthyroidism.
So its interesting to see that a shortage of iodine can cause both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. This article mainly focuses on hypothyroidism.
How Can I Prevent Iodine Deficiency
The best way to prevent iodine deficiency is to eat a diet that includes foods that contain iodine. Iodine can be found in:
- Certain fish, such as cod and tuna.
- Shrimp, seaweed and other seafood.
- Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Using iodized salt is also an important way to prevent iodine deficiency. When you add salt to your food during cooking or eating, you should use iodized salt.
Most Americans get their salt intake from processed foods such as canned goods, but processed foods rarely contain iodized salt. These foods are usually made with non-iodized salt, so they dont help with your iodine intake.
Other salts, including sea salt, kosher salt, Himalayan salt and fleur de sel, dont contain iodine either.
The amount of iodine you need every day depends on your age. Most adults should get 150 micrograms of iodine daily. If youre pregnant or breastfeeding, you should take a prenatal vitamin that contains 250 micrograms of iodine daily. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, so double-check the nutrients on the bottle. Ask your healthcare provider if you should take a separate iodine supplement.
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