Iodine is an essential mineral that your body can’t make by itself, so we must depend on food or supplements to get what we need. It plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones, which are important for vital bodily processes such as metabolism. This is why low thyroid hormone levels often lead to problems such as low energy, constipation, and weight gain, to name a few.
Many countries, such as the US and Canada, add iodine to their table salt to reduce problems associated with iodine deficiency. However, we don’t do this in the UK and the World Health Organisation now classifies the UK as seventh out of the ten most iodine-deficient nations in the world.
Dr. Naomi Newman-Beinart is here to tell you all about the signs of iodine deficiency and what you can do about it.
Dry, flaky skin
Did you know that thyroid hormones can actually help your skin cells to regenerate? When people have an iodine deficiency, they often find that their skin is dry and flaky, and researchers believe that this may be due to low thyroid hormone levels. Taking a natural seaweed supplement is a great way to improve iodine deficiency and as an added bonus, seaweed also contains antioxidants which are well-known to help protect the skin from damage and fight signs of ageing.
Feeling cold all the time
Feeling cold is a common symptom of iodine deficiency. Iodine is required for the production of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone that helps to regulate your body temperature. If you don’t have enough thyroxine, you are more likely to feel cold even when you are doing all the right things to try and stay warm.
Swelling at the front of your neck
When you are deficient in iodine then your body can’t make enough thyroid hormones. When this happens, your thyroid starts to work overtime to make these vital hormones and this can result in overgrowth of the thyroid gland, which is at the front of your neck. This is called goiter. Luckily, if caught soon enough this can be reversed by supplementation.
Over the years, I have come across many women who struggle with unexpected weight gain and weight that is really hard to shift, even when they are doing all of the right things. The reason iodine may be the culprit here is that thyroid hormones help to control your metabolism, helping convert what you eat into energy and heat. When you have low thyroid hormone levels, you burn less calories from your food, so more of those calories are stored as fat.
Did you know that being iodine deficient can affect your IQ? Scientists collated over 20 studies looking at the relationship between iodine status and IQ, and all of the studies found that a deficiency was associated with lower IQ. Research has also found that people with lower thyroid hormone levels performed less well on memory tasks than people with higher levels – fascinating stuff and an excellent reason to start thinking about adding seaweed to your daily diet.
If you think you might be deficient, you can get this check by a doctor, or an online Q&A can tell you more about your iodine status. However, unless you include white fish and dairy as a normal part of your daily diet, you may wish to consider supplementing with some seaweed. Seaweed is something that more and more of us are starting to gradually add to our diets. It’s no longer surprising to see someone snacking on seaweed, adding it to a salad or choosing sushi for lunch. But many people aren’t aware that a key reason seaweed is beneficial for our health is due to its natural iodine content. I love Doctor Seaweed’s organic ‘Weed and Wonderful’ Hebridean Ascophyllum seaweed capsules. They contain only natural ingredients from food sources, providing natural nutrition in a much easier and more convenient way. Each capsule contains a similar amount of natural and safe iodine as you would expect to find in a portion of white fish.