The dangers of iodine deficiency

The dangers of iodine deficiency

by Pamela Ng 09 Jan 2020

Although not as highly profiled as its other mineral counterparts, iodine is just as important of a mineral as others. In fact, it is considered to be an essential mineral, given that the human body isn’t able to produce iodine on its own. It is important to ensure that one gets sufficient amounts of iodine via proper nutrition, as a lack of which can lead to a number of adverse health conditions:


1.           Hypothyroidism


Iodine is essential in maintaining the health of the thyroid gland. Too little of the mineral in the body can cause hypothyroidism, which is the condition of low thyroid function. This results in a set of symptoms that include constipation, unexplained weight gain, weakness, muscle aches and fatigue. The immune system can also be compromised and weakened due to hypothyroidism.


2.           Breast cancer


The lack of iodine in breast tissues can cause changes to the DNA and increase oestrogen levels. Furthermore, insufficient iodine can also lead to unstable cortisol levels and a weaker immune system. All these effects can culminate in a significant increase of the risk of breast cancer.


3.           Heart disease and stroke


Hypothyroidism can increase the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and cholesterol in the body. This can lead to plaque forming within the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. As a result, the heart will need to pump harder to allow the blood to flow, making the heart weaker and leaving it prone to heart disease, which can also potentially cause a stroke.


4.           Sub-optimal brain function


There has been research showing correlation between the lack of iodine and brain function. This is especially apparent in foetuses who are still in the gestation period. Thus, expectant ladies should take care consume sufficient iodine during pregnancy for the benefit of the baby’s mental health and reduce the risk of impairment.


5.           Mood imbalances


Iodine deficiency can lead to abrupt changes in moods due to a disruption of the hormone receptors. This can lead to depression and anxiety. A decrease in libido is also another symptom caused by deficiency, though not exclusive to it.


Food rich in iodine include white fish, milk and dairy products, and iodised salt. However, iodine should be taken in moderate and appropriate amounts, as excessive amounts of iodine can cause hyperthyroidism and present its own set of health problems. While it may be hard to overdose on iodine via whole food, processed food and certain types of seasonings may contain too much of the mineral, tipping the scales against your favour. You know what they say about having too much of a good thing!