Iodine is an essential dietary element needed for proper thyroid function. In the US and many industrialized nations, dietary iodine is found in table salt – iodized salt. Without dietary iodine, hypothyroidism, goiter, weight gain, depression, fatigue ensue. Hypothyroidism, a result of iodine deficiency during pregnancy, is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation and neurological deficits in children.
In the US, approximately 10% of the population is iodine deficient while 50% of Europe is iodine deficient (Zimmerman 2009). Iodine deficiency has been increasing in the US, in women of reproductive age, 14.9% percent are potentially deficient (Hollowell et al. 1998). Similarly, the incidence of congenital hypothyroidism in newborns has also increased in the US over the last two decades (Parkes et al. 2010).
Iodine deficiency in women can lead to overt hypothyroidism and consequent annovulation, infertility, gestational hypertension, spontaneous first-trimester abortion, and stillbirth. Iodine deficiency is also associated with increased risk for thyroid carcinoma in animals and humans.
This deficiency is preventable through supplementation, but it must be identified first. Simple urine tests exist, but are not common in medical practice.
In the coming weeks, Lucine, in partnership with ThyroidChange and others, will be exploring thyroid disease in women. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, tell us your story. We’d like to hear from you.