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Hypothyroidism And Iodine

Iodine and the thyroid gland are greatly associated with each other because iodine is essential in the production of hormones by the thyroid. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland are important in keeping the body's metabolism running at a steady rate, as well as the breakdown of unwanted fats.

There are some areas in the world where iodine is lacking in their diet. In some developed countries, they have made it mandatory to use iodized salt, which is also present in additives, beverages, medications and food supplements. Others have also practiced iodination of flour and cooking oil.

Average Iodine Intake In Countries

Country Iodine Intake
North America 200-700 micrograms/day
Germany 20-150 micrograms/day
Hong Kong 110-142 micrograms/day
Chile 50-150 micrograms/day
Switzerland 130-180 micrograms/day

Recommended Daily Iodine Intake By The Food And Nutrition Board (FNB)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 110 mcg* 110 mcg*
7-12 months 130 mcg* 130 mcg*
1-3 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
4-8 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
9-13 years 120 mcg 120 mcg
14-18 years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg 290 mcg
19+ years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg

Iodine And Thyroid Hormone Production

The thyroid gland uses iodine to create the hormones Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). These are needed for the breakdown of proteins that are important in giving our body energy. Both hormones are essential in regulating metabolism, which is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or stability in the body. This means the two hormones regulate a person's internal system, preventing heart failure and a host of other internal problems.

How Iodine Deficiency Causes Hypothyroidism

Since iodine aids in the production of thyroid hormones, a low intake of iodine would mean decreased hormonal production. This will result to a medical condition called hypothyroidism. And because these hormones are essential in controlling a person's metabolism, an inadequate production of thyroid hormone can result to many health problems. Typical symptoms include abnormal weight gain, tiredness, baldness, decrease in heart rate, and cold intolerance.

In pregnant women, lack of iodine intake may cause miscarriages, pregnancy complications and infertility. In vitro (inside the womb), the growing fetus needs these hormones for brain development. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy may result to cretinism (mental retardation in children), deafness or autism, and delayed brain development.

Excessive Iodine Intake And Goiter

On the other hand, an excess of iodine content in the body can result to a condition called hyperthyroidism, which happens if the body produces too much thyroid hormone. As a consequence, the thyroid gland can become enlarged and swollen, eventually progressing to a condition commonly called Goiter.

The daily recommended iodine intake for adults is between of 110 to 150 mcg. Excessive intake will result to abdominal pain, metallic taste in the mouth, increased thirst, difficulty urinating and seizures.

However, Goiter is also correlated with inadequate iodine in the body. Such conditions often occur to people who live very far from any water forms. These people do not get enough iodine in their diet because the main diets in these places are not rich in seafood. As a result, their thyroid gland makes up for it by growing in size.

Other symptoms of goiter include:

Medically, there are synthetic hormones to treat both conditions. However, these ailments can easily be prevented by eating a balanced diet with iodine. Good sources of iodine include fish, mollusks and seaweeds. Eggs, dairy and grain products are also good sources of iodine. Iodine is also rich in breast milk and milk formulas.

Household Sources Of Iodine

Food Approximate Micrograms (mcg) per serving Percent Daily Values*
Seaweed, whole or sheet, 1 g 16 to 2,984 11% to 1,989%
Cod, baked, 3 ounces 99 66%
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup 75 50%
Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon) 71 47%
Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup 56 37%
Fish sticks, 3 ounces 54 36%
Bread, white, enriched, 2 slices 45 30%
Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, canned, 1/2 cup 42 28%
Shrimp, 3 ounces 35 23%
Ice cream, chocolate, 1/2 cup 30 20%
Macaroni, enriched, boiled, 1 cup 27 18%
Egg, 1 large 24 16%
Tuna, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces 17 11%
Corn, cream style, canned, 1/2 cup 14 9%
Prunes, dried, 5 prunes 13 9%
Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce 12 8%
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 11 7%
Lima beans, mature, boiled, 1/2 cup 8 5%
Apple juice, 1 cup 7 5%
Green peas, frozen, boiled, 1/2 cup 3 2%
Banana, 1 medium 3 2%

Avoid Goitrogenic Foods

There are certain food items that can interfere with the function of the thyroid gland. These are called goitrogenic foods. These substances also cause goiter by preventing the thyroid gland from doing its function.

Foods To Eat In Moderation:

Ways To Check Your Iodine Levels

There are two ways to check the iodine level of your body. This can be done either by having urine or blood tests. If urine is used as a sample for testing, it may be done in two ways:
  1. 24 hour urine collection, which means the patient's urine is collected in a 24 hour period. collection of urine sample for the entire 24 hour period.

  2. By use of a filter strip collection kit, this will only require you to collect urine on a filter strip twice a day.
If a more intensive test is necessary, the radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) test provides comprehensive information. This requires preparations such as fasting for two hours, low-iodine diet and a non-intake of anti-thyroid medicine for 5 to 7 days before the test. You will be asked to take a dose of radioactive iodine, which could be in a form of a capsule or fluid 4 to 24 hours before the test. After which, a blood sample will be taken to measure your body's iodine levels.

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