What is iodine?

By | 19 February 2021

What is iodine?

Iodine is an element that occurs naturally in some food sources but cannot be produced by the body itself. Iodine mineral has many important functions in the body, especially energy metabolism. It is an important component of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which are among the thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate many biochemical reactions that take place in the body, such as protein synthesis. Also, it plays an important role in the development of the skeleton and central nervous system of the fetus and babies in the womb. The source of iodine in food is soil. There are many soil types in the world and varying amounts of iodine are found in these soils. The amount of iodine in soils affects the iodine content of foods. Since soils in some parts of the world are poor in iodine, people living in these regions are likely to be iodine deficient. In case of living in these regions or not getting enough iodine with the food, iodine deficiency occurs and this leads to the formation of many diseases.

 Which foods are used in iodine?

The main source of iodine in the world is the sea and the substance containing the most iodine is seaweed. Although seaweed is consumed in different ways in different parts of the world, there is no common consumption area in our country. The main source of iodine in our country is table salt enriched with iodine. Especially the Black Sea Region is a region in our country with iodine-poor soils. Since the iodine content of vegetables and fruits grown in these regions is low, it is very difficult to meet the iodine requirement with foods. For this reason, the use of iodized table salts is of great importance in our country, which has iodine-poor soils. Iodine salts that we use in daily life contain iodine in high amounts and are sufficient to meet daily needs. However, the use of rock salts of various qualities, which have recently become popular, carries a risk in terms of iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency can lead to many hormonal diseases. Therefore, adequate consumption should be taken into account.

What is the iodine requirement?

The iodine requirement must be fully met for the body to perform its daily functions smoothly. The amount of iodine requirement varies according to age. There is an iodine requirement of 90 mcg/day in children aged 0-5 years, 120 mcg/day in children aged 6-12, 150 mcg/day in adolescents and adults, and 200-300 mcg/day during pregnancy and lactation. When looking at the number during pregnancy, it can be seen that there is an iodine requirement that has reached approximately twice as much compared to other individuals. Since this is an amount that is very difficult to meet with food, iodine supplements are generally used by the doctor’s recommendation in women during pregnancy. These can be any of the supplements called iodine pills or iodine drops. In this way, the need for iodine minerals required for the development of the baby in the mother’s womb can be fully met.

 ‎What is an iodine deficiency ?

Iodine has an important place in the growth and development of humans. Many mental retardations can occur as a result of iodine deficiency and iodine deficiency is the main cause of preventable mental retardation in the world. Due to the inability to produce thyroid hormones, mental retardation and various diseases occur. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and infancy can also lead to permanent diseases. When an individual’s daily iodine intake falls below 10 mcg, hypothyroidism accompanied by goiter occurs. Goiter disease is the earliest clinical sign of iodine deficiency. This degree of iodine deficiency may cause the fetus not to develop sufficiently in pregnant women, as well as causing miscarriages and stillbirths. Mental retardation is likely to be seen in childhood iodine deficiency. As a result of less iodine deficiency, diseases such as hyperactivity, attention deficit, and inability to focus may occur. In adults, iodine deficiency causes many complications, initially goiter, and additionally makes it difficult to perform cognitive functions. In cases where iodine deficiency becomes chronic, the incidence of thyroid cancer is high.

 ‎What are the symptoms of iodine deficiency?

Iodine deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in our country and around the world. Symptoms are similar in all individuals with the problem, and most of them develop due to disorders in thyroid hormone production. Common symptoms in patients with iodine deficiency include:

  • Swelling in the neck (goiter formation)
  • Dry skin
  • Chills and chills
  • Constant tiredness
  • Constipation
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
  • Getting fat
  • Confusion and forgetfulness (dementia)
  • Slow heart rhythm, fainting, and dizziness
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol
  • Decreased muscle strength
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle and bone diseases

Iodine levels should be investigated in patients with the above symptoms. The simplest methods of this research are measuring the iodine level in the blood and investigating the amount of spot iodine in the urine. Although both tests are quite simple, they can usually be evaluated on the same day by taking the results. Iodine supplements should be started immediately in patients with iodine deficiency as a result of these evaluations.

In which ways can Iodine supplements be made?

Mineral supplements containing iodine are usually prescribed by the physician to meet the increasing iodine need during pregnancy. These supplements may contain only iodine, as well as iodine, as well as different micronutrients such as B group vitamins and folic acid. In planned pregnancies, it may be requested to start some vitamin and mineral supplements at least 3 months in advance. In this case, iodine is usually included in the recommended supplements. In iodine deficiencies that develop due to deficiencies in the diet, consumption of iodine-free salt, and living in regions with low iodine content, except pregnancy, supplements are generally administered as oral pills or iodine drops. Individuals diagnosed with iodine deficiency should avoid consuming a group of foods, also called goitrogen foods. These include foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, radishes, turnips, cabbage, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, soy milk, and soybeans. These foods are also called goiter-making foods and make it difficult to retain iodine in the thyroid gland. Therefore, individuals in this group who consume foods in high quantities and frequently are more likely to suffer from iodine deficiency and therefore thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism and goiter. Iodine deficiency can cause irreversible mental retardation, especially in infancy and childhood, when mental development is a concern. To prevent this, special attention should be paid to the consumption of iodized salt in childhood, frequent consumption of iodine-rich foods should be paid attention to, and vitamin and mineral tests should be performed intermittently.

For many situations such as maintaining the normal functioning of the body, regulating metabolism, and maintaining hormonal balance, macro and micronutrient requirements must be met with sufficient and balanced nutrition. In some cases, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be seen despite a balanced diet depending on physiological conditions such as pregnancy, chronic diseases, or the geographical region. To be protected from iodine deficiency, which is the most common among these, iodized table salts should be used, and foods with high iodine content such as green vegetables, fish, and seafood should be included in the diet adequately. If you also think you have iodine deficiency or have symptoms related to this, you can have an iodine test immediately by applying to a health problem. If iodine deficiency is detected as a result of the tests to be performed, you can start your treatment process as soon as possible and protect your health to prevent this situation from causing permanent damage to your body.