A functioning thyroid is essential for producing the vital hormones our bodies need. If we aren’t consuming enough vegan iodine to support the thyroid gland, we’ll start to notice iodine deficiency symptoms. If left untreated, these symptoms can permanently damage our health.
But don’t worry - you can avoid this by staying aware of the signs of an unhealthy thyroid and being proactive about your health. We’ve compiled a list of 10 iodine deficiency symptoms that you should be looking out for.
1. Swelling in your neck
You may be wondering: what is the main symptom of iodine deficiency?
The most common symptom is swelling in the front of the neck. This is called a goiter, and it occurs when our thyroid gland grows too large from trying to keep up with the demand for hormone production.
A goiter will develop if we aren’t consuming the amount of iodine our thyroid needs to make hormones. When left untreated for a long time, a goiter can cause permanent damage to the thyroid and all the systems the thyroid supports. So if you notice some unsightly swelling in your neck, you should talk to your doctor about the state of your thyroid as soon as possible.
Fatigue is a prevalent symptom of iodine deficiency. One study found that 88% of patients with thyroid issues experienced fatigue, while 68% experienced an increase in sleepiness.
But why exactly does an iodine deficiency make us feel tired? The hormones generated by our thyroid give us the energy we need to stay active. When our thyroid lacks the iodine to produce these hormones, we may notice it feels more challenging to function in daily life due to lower energy.
3. Unexpected weight gain
Gaining weight unexpectedly could indicate an iodine shortage within your body. But why?
One study explains that thyroid hormones regulate our body’s metabolism. Our metabolism slows down when our thyroid can’t make these hormones because of low iodine levels, and we experience weight gain.
The International Journal of General Medicine study concluded that the normalization of thyroid levels significantly changed patients' weight with thyroid issues. This indicates the importance of consuming enough iodine so that our bodies can stay lean and healthy.
4. Hair loss
An iodine deficiency has been linked with causing hair loss in some patients. This is because, according to research, our thyroid hormones control hair follicle stem cell function.
One study found that not only can an iodine deficiency cause hair loss, but an excessive intake of iodine could also lead to abnormalities in the way our hair follicles function.
That’s why it’s crucial we make sure our iodine levels are at the right level for proper hormone function.
5. Feeling colder than usual
An iodine shortage can affect our body’s ability to produce heat. One study found that when our thyroid isn’t releasing enough hormones, we experience increased sensitivity to cold.
So if you’re noticing a drastic change in your body temperature, it could be time to increase your iodine intake and support your body’s ability to produce and retain warmth.
6. Trouble with learning and memory
Thyroid hormones are necessary for the growth and development of our brains. This explains why an iodine deficiency can impair our ability to learn and remember information.
One study found that those with low thyroid levels had a smaller hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for controlling long-term memory. Because an iodine deficiency can negatively and permanently alter the structure of our brains, it’s essential to make sure we’re consuming enough.
7. Dry, flaky skin
The hormones produced by our thyroid gland also play a role in the health of our skin.
Research shows that patients with thyroid issues experience dry, scaly, and rough skin. One study tested a group of patients with hypothyroidism and found that a whopping 63% experienced dry skin as a symptom of their low hormone levels.
So if you’re having skin problems, don’t blame your skincare routine just yet - it could be a result of an iodine deficiency.
8. Slower heart rate
Adults' average resting heart rate is between 60-and 100 beats per minute. If you notice a decrease in your usual heart rate, it could signify iodine deficiency.
Research shows that the state of our thyroid can have profound effects on the cardiac function that can impact cardiac contractility, vascular resistance, blood pressure, and heart rhythm. When our thyroid lacks the iodine necessary to support hormone production, our hearts struggle to function, and our heart rate decreases.
But how can we measure our heart rate to determine if it’s slowing down?
You can check your heart rate by placing two fingers over your wrist and counting the number of pulses in 15 seconds. Multiply the number of pulses by four, and then you’ll be able to determine your heart rate.
9. Heavy or irregular periods
It’s essential for anyone who experiences monthly periods to keep track of their cycle. Heavy or irregular periods can signify an iodine deficiency, so we must notice any differences that occur.
One study found that menstrual irregularities may even come before the development of a goiter. That’s why being aware of any abnormalities in your menstrual cycle can help you get ahead of the game regarding thyroid health.
10. Issues with pregnancy
Pregnant women must consume enough iodine to support them and their developing fetuses. Studies indicate that severe iodine deficiency in pregnant women can result in the fetus experiencing cognitive impairment and developing learning disabilities.
Because an iodine deficiency causes permanent damage to fetuses, pregnant women need to be aware of any symptoms they have that could indicate poor thyroid health.
How to get tested for an iodine deficiency
Anyone experiencing symptoms of an iodine deficiency should get tested to see if their thyroid is responsible.
You can get tested for an iodine deficiency by requesting a blood test from your doctor. A blood test will measure your thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, levels. The average person's TSH levels should be 0.5 to 5.0 mIU/L.
If your iodine levels are low, don’t worry - there are plenty of ways to increase your iodine intake and improve thyroid health.
Check out our article10 Signs You Have A Weak Immune System for ideas.
Why an iodine supplement may help
We now know that an iodine deficiency can cause many health problems that range in severity. But what are some steps we can take in correcting iodine deficiency?
Taking an iodine supplement can be a great way to control the amount of iodine you consume every day. Luckily, FuelOrganics offers a high-quality Vegan Iodine Supplement containing kelp powder, a leading source of iodine necessary to prevent thyroid disease.
Our thyroid health plays a vital role in many of our body’s functions. That’s why we must stay aware of how an iodine deficiency can manifest itself.
Now that you know the warning signs of an iodine deficiency, we feel confident you’ll be able to stay proactive when it comes to your thyroid health.
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