Diet & Nutrition 5 MIN READ 564 VIEWS January 24, 2022

7 Important Symptoms Of Iodine Deficiency You Need To Know

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Symptoms of iodine deficiency

Iodine is a powerful mineral that several food items contain. It is important for the optimum production of thyroid hormones. These hormones have a major role in controlling our metabolic rate along with bone development and several other functions. Iodine deficiency results in significant health problems. Therefore, it is very important to know the symptoms of iodine deficiency, what causes it, and how we can treat it.

What is Iodine Deficiency? 

Iodine helps human cells to convert food into energy and is required for normal thyroid functions. Without iodine, your body starts having several problems including gland issues. Goitre and swelling are some of the signs of iodine deficiency. The deficiency makes it difficult for your body to produce enough thyroid hormones which is a health problem – hypothyroidism.

There are several signs of iodine deficiencies. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency are visible in women. The deficiency can cause severe health issues such as:

  1. Issues with fertility
  2. Thyroid issues 
  3. Cancer
  4. High blood pressure in pregnant women 
  5. Learning issues in children. It often happens in children who have iodine-deficient mothers.

Thyroid hormones are necessary for brain development so Iodine deficiency may have a negative impact on brain growth and  can also cause several mental growth issues.

7 Noticeable Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

According to a study, about a third of people are deficient in iodine. Here are some symptoms of iodine deficiency you should look for:

1. Sudden Weight Gain

One of the most common and noticeable low iodine symptoms is a sudden rise in your weight. If your metabolic rates have slowed down, you are more likely to gain fat easily. If you have a healthy metabolic rate, you will easily burn calories and produce energy. Iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism that slows down your metabolic rates, making you gain excessive weight. 

2. Feeling Weak and Tired 

If you unnecessarily feel tired without doing any heavy work, it may be because of the lack of iodine symptoms. Picking up moderately heavy objects can also be hard in these cases. If you have hypothyroidism, you will naturally burn fewer calories than usual and less energy will be produced in your system. This is what causes the feeling of tiredness in people.

3. Losing Hair 

Thyroid hormones also have a huge role in promoting hair follicle renewal. As mentioned before, if you have iodine deficiency, there will be low production of thyroid hormones and producing enough new hair follicles won’t be possible. In this case, hair fall can also be a problem for most people. 

4. Drying Skin 

Having excessive dry skin can also be a major sign of iodine deficiency that you must be aware of. A lack of thyroid hormones affects cell renewal process and causes you to sweat less leaving skin dehydrated, dry, flaky, and patchy.

5. Heavy or Irregular Periods 

One of the major symptoms of iodine deficiency is irregular periods that many women face at some point. Some women also have heavier and/or unusual periods. This is a state that hypothyroidism causes.

6. Swelling in Front of the Neck

If you start showing low iodine symptoms, chances are you will have swelling in the neck as a result. This is because iodine deficiency has caused your cells in thyroid glands to multiply to make more thyroid hormone in order to compensate for low Iodine supply. When you do not consume enough iodine-rich food, it will try to consume more iodine from your blood and make your neck swollen.

7. Learning or Memory Problems 

Thyroid hormones are extremely essential for the brain to develop properly. Those who lack iodine in their systems may face certain learning and memory issues. Learning new things may be difficult for them. Remembering things properly can also be a task. 

Several studies showed how the hippocampus is smaller in people who have an iodine deficiency. This is a very dangerous situation. It can be one of the most concerning symptoms of iodine deficiency in people of all age groups.

Disorders and Complications Due to Iodine Deficiency

If you’re not treating iodine deficiency at an early stage, it can eventually lead to severe diseases. The major complications of hypothyroidism include:

  1. Facing heart issues (slow heart rate) and disorders is very common.
  2. Hypothyroidism can also cause several mental and cognitive issues such as depression and cognitive impairment.
  3. Peripheral nerves can be damaged due to this issue. Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition caused by long term untreated hypothyroidism.
  4. Hypothyroidism can also cause impaired ovulation in women that leads to infertility.
  5. In many cases, the lack of iodine in one’s body can also lead to cretinism.
  6. Several pregnancy issues can also be noticed in women due to iodine deficiency. These may include sudden miscarriages, premature delivery, stillbirth, and cognitive disabilities in newborns. 

Diagnosis of Iodine Deficiency

Make sure you observe the signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency so that you can diagnose your issues as soon as possible. Iodine deficiency issues in children and adults mostly depend on their thyroid levels and gland sizes. Thyroid abnormalities have a huge role in determining whether or not you have an iodine deficiency. A simple urine test can also let you know if you have these issues. All newborns are therefore tested for hypothyroidism these days. 

What Causes Iodine Deficiency?

Those who do not generally consume enough foods that are rich in iodine are most likely to show signs of iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency mostly affects pregnant women who naturally need more iodine in their systems to work properly.

You can consume iodine naturally from food items. Seafood and food produced in areas where the soil is filled with iodine are beneficial for your health. Mountain areas as well the lowlands are less likely to have iodine-rich soil and can cause low iodine symptoms in people. 

Treating the Deficiency 

You can fix hypothyroidism with a healthy diet and this will help you keep signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency at bay. 

Infants showing signs of iodine deficiency are given levothyroxine 3 mcg/kg orally once a day for a week. Toddlers who show signs of iodine deficiency are often given 3-5 mcg/kg of levothyroxine once a day per week. Children are mostly given around 90mcg-120mcg per day if they lack iodine. Adults are given around 150mcg and pregnant women are often treated with 250 mcg/day. 

Note: It is advisable to consult a doctor if signs of deficiency appear. The dose schedule must be verified by the medical doctor.


If symptoms of iodine deficiency are caught at an early stage, it can be reversed safely without any side effects as such. If it is not caught early, it can lead to many severe issues in the future. As far as kids are concerned, some diseases can even be permanent. Even if you catch iodine deficiency at an advanced stage, make sure you get enough iodine from foods or supplements so that the situation does not get worse in the future.

Read these next