Iodine is a micronutrient that is commonly available in India through iodized salt. Yet iodine deficiency is rampant in several parts of the country and up to a third of the population in the world. Iodine deficiency can manifest as a number of health concerns in the body such as impeded growth, cretinism, poor cardiac functioning, lowers levels of intelligence, etc. Iodine deficiency can result from various factors. 

Here is a list of the most common causes:

1) Iodine deficiency in the diet: The prescribed intake of iodine in an adult is 150 micrograms every day. As our body cannot produce iodine on its own, it depends on external supply through foods such as iodized salts, dairy, seafood, curd, eggs, etc. If you are not able to supply the body with its daily iodine requirement, your body is bound to be deficient in iodine.

2) Iodine deficient soil: Soils in certain Himalayan and plateau regions are deficient in iodine. This means the food grown in such soils are also deficient in iodine. People living in such regions are more likely to develop symptoms of iodine deficiency such as goitre. To combat this, the Government of India has made iodized salt a norm to provide everyone with basic iodine needs.

3) Eating a lot of processed food: Although all salts available for sale must be iodized, processed food do not use iodized salt when preparing the processing mix. If you are heavily reliant on processed food, the chances of experiencing symptoms of iodine deficiency are much higher.

4) Pregnancy and Lactation: Special conditions such as pregnancy and lactation increase the body’s demand for all nutrients and micronutrients, including iodine. Women experiencing such special conditions must take supplements if necessary, to meet the increased demand for iodine in the body. Iodine deficiency is also likely to present itself post-menopause.

5) Low sodium diets: Low sodium diets also tend to be deficient in iodine as iodized salt is a significant source of iodine in the body. If health conditions such a high blood pressure require you to follow a low sodium diet, you must supplement your iodine intake to ensure the body’s needs are met.

The World Iodine Deficiency Day is celebrated on 21st October every year to spread awareness about the causes and symptoms of iodine deficiency in the body. If you have been facing symptoms such as a prominent lump at the base of the neck, dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, etc. you should get your iodine levels checked without delay.