Iodine deficiency is rare in industrialized nations. However, it’s becoming more common as people adopt unique dietary habits.
Vegans and vegetarians, for example, have an increased risk of iodine deficiency, as do pregnant women and people who don’t use iodized salt.
Iodine deficiency impairs your thyroid gland, which could lead to hormone issues, growth problems, cell damage, and a slow metabolism, among other noticeable symptoms.
Keep reading to discover the top 8 most common signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism.
Fatigue, Weakness, & Tiredness
Fatigue and weakness are two of the most common symptoms of iodine deficiency. They’re also two of the easiest symptoms to notice.
In one study, researchers found 4 out of 5 people with low thyroid hormone levels (thyroid hormones contain iodine) tended to feel sluggish and weak. In another study involving 2,456 people, researchers found the most common symptom across all patients were tiredness and weakness.
There’s a specific reason why iodine deficiency and thyroid problems are linked to energy issues: your body needs thyroid hormones to produce energy. Lower levels of thyroid hormones cause your energy to fall, making you feel tired and weak.
Unexpected Weight Gain
Some people with thyroid issues develop unexpected weight gain.
You might not have changed your diet and exercise habits, yet you’re gaining weight.
The reason? Iodine deficiency and thyroid problems slow your metabolism. Your metabolism dictates the rate at which your burn calories.
If you have started to gain weight, or if your diet and exercise routines seem to have little impact on weight management, then thyroid issues may be to blame.
Swelling in the Neck
One of the first noticeable signs of a thyroid problem is swelling in the neck, or a goiter.
A goiter is an inflamed thyroid gland. Sometimes, the goiter is so large that it becomes difficult to breathe and swallow.
You can develop goiters for several reasons – including low iodine and other issues. Talk to a doctor to determine what’s causing the swelling in your neck.
Iodine deficiency is liked to hair loss. The iodine in your thyroid hormones helps to control the growth of hair follicles.
As thyroid hormone levels drop, your hair follicles stop regenerating. Over time, this leads to hair loss.
According to one study on 700 people, 30% of those with low thyroid issues developed hair loss.
There’s some debate over the connection between low iodine levels and hair loss. Although some studies have found a connection between the two conditions, others suggest the connection is linked to genetic reasons – not iodine deficiency or thyroid issues. Nevertheless, if you notice hair loss combined with other symptoms on this list, then it could be a thyroid / iodine issue.
Dry, Flaky Skin
Approximately 4 out of 5 people with hypothyroidism (caused by low iodine levels) have dry, flaky skin.
Your thyroid hormones are rich with iodine that helps your skin cells regenerate. If you have low thyroid hormone levels, your skin cells don’t regenerate as often as they should, leading to dry and flaky skin.
Iodine deficiency could also impact your ability to sweat normally. If you have low iodine and thyroid hormone levels, for example, then you tend to sweat less than people with normal thyroid hormone levels. This can lead to more dry, flaky skin issues.
Do you regularly feel cold when everyone else is a comfortable temperature? Do you frequently put on coats or extra layers? If so, you could have an iodine deficiency.
One study found 80% of people with hypothyroidism were more sensitive to colder temperatures.
Other studies have linked this issue to metabolism speed. Iodine deficiency causes your metabolism to slow down. A slower metabolism generates less heat than a faster metabolism, causing you to feel colder than usual.
Some studies have even connected thyroid hormone activity to brown fat. Brown fat is a special type of fat linked to heat generation. If you have low thyroid hormone levels, then your brown fat may be less active, leading to chronic coldness.
Slow Heart Rate or Changes in Heart Rate
Iodine impacts your heart rate. If you have low levels of iodine, then your heart could beat more slowly than normal.
Meanwhile, people with too much iodine could have a faster heartbeat than normal.
People with severe iodine deficiency tend to have very slow heart rates, which can lead to other noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism – like mental fog, weakness, fatigue, and dizziness. Some people even faint because of their slow heart rate.
Mental Fog, Memory Issues, or Learning Problems
“Mental fog” is a symptom of hundreds of conditions. However, many people with iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism develop noticeable cognitive issues.
Studies show iodine deficiency can affect your ability to learn and remember. In this study, for example, researchers asked 1,000 adults to complete learning and memory tests. Researchers found adults who performed well on those tests had higher thyroid hormone levels than people with lower thyroid hormone levels.
Final Word: Take a Science Nutrition Lab Blood Test to Spot Changes in Your Blood Before Symptoms Appear
Your blood changes before symptoms appear.
A Science Nutrition Lab blood test can spot these changes, then determine if you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Take a Science Nutrition Lab blood test today to get answers to your health questions.