It seems like there are a million reasons as to why you are tired and don’t feel your best. Health gurus always have some sort of disease or disorder to blame. Some of them are extreme, others not so much.

Iodine deficiency is one of the less worrying reasons, as long as you catch it in time. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to avoid, and diet and exercise are the biggest ways to prevent this.

Yes, really, diet and exercise are the best solutions.

What Is An Iodine Deficiency?

man's neck

Iodine is a mineral and key part of your thyroid hormones. These hormones help regulate the metabolic activities and helps with early growth and development in children. Your body doesn’t make this mineral naturally, which is why it’s so easy to be deficient in it.

People who eat a lot of food that lack iodine can develop iodine deficiency. This can affect your muscles, heart, liver, kidney, and brain.

The term for this problem is actually more of a blanket statement for a variety of problems. Though, all of them can be prevented by having the right levels of iodine.

Some of these disorders include hypothyroidism, high cholesterol levels, endemic goiter, cretinism, infertility, and breast cancer.

Iodine deficiency is a surprisingly big problem. It affects around 72% of the world’s population.

How Iodine Helps Your Body

Physically fit man

Iodine helps your body in a lot of ways that you might not even realize. This is why a lot of people wonder if iodine is the reason that you don’t feel good.

Metabolic Rate

Iodine controls the functioning of the thyroid glands by helping create hormones that create your body’s base metabolic rate. This rate is responsible for your organs, sleep cycle, absorption of food, and how that food turns into energy.

It can also influence your blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and weight.

Good Energy Levels

If you are often tired, you may be low on iodine. It controls how your body uses calories for energy and not turning them into extra fat.

Prevents Cancer

Iodine not only boosts your immune system, but helps prevent cancer. It does this through apoptosis, which is the self-destruction of bad cancer cells.

Yet at the same time, it doesn’t touch the healthy cells.

Gets Rid Of Toxic Chemicals

Iodine removes heavy metal toxins like lead, mercury and other biological toxins. If you don’t have enough, these toxins can affect your health.

Healthy Skin

Dry, irritated, and rough skin that becomes flaky can be a sign of low iodine. This is because iodine helps create healthy skin, hair, and teeth.

Healthy Thyroid Gland

Iodine deficiency is usually the cause of goiter, which is an enlargement of thyroid glands.

Kids Growing Healthy

Low iodine can mess with the development of children. They can develop motor function problems, learning disabilities, and low growth rate.

Who Is At Risk For Iodine Issues?

pregnant woman

As mentioned before, children are highly susceptible as well as pregnant women. There are people who have a specific kind of diet that have a higher risk of getting a deficiency too.

Vegans And Vegetarians

Going meat free is getting more and more popular, especially in the US. The problem with these diets is that some of best food for getting iodine are animal products. You can eat all the veggies and substitute food they want, but you can’t replace naturally iodine filled food.

So, not only do you not have a lot of iodine, but you may eat a lot of veggies that prevent you from getting any iodine. Veggies like broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, and Brussel sprouts have giotrogens. In large doses, they mess with your ability to take iodine in.

Paleo Dieters

People who are on the Paleo diet should eat saltwater fish and sea vegetables, but that doesn’t always happen. Because of this, they can get deficient.

Especially, if they aren’t eating or drinking any dairy products.

Iodine Deficiency Symptoms To Watch For

worried girl

There are different types of symptoms that come with this deficiency. They include:

  • Depression
  • Difficultly Losing Weight
  • Dry Skin
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Memory Problems
  • Menstrual Problems
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Infections
  • Sensitivity to Cold
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Brain Fog
  • Thinning Hair
  • Constipation
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Impaired Kidney Function
  • Muscle Weakness

How Test For Iodine Deficiency

woman in a laboratory

There are a few ways your doctor can check for it. There aren’t any ways that you can do it yourself.

Urine Test

This is probably the easiest test. You can get an answer in minutes. Though it’s not as accurate as other tests.

Blood Test

You can request a blood test. It takes longer than the urine test to get an answer though.

Iodine Patch Test

This is where your doctor paints a patch of iodine on your skin and sees how it looks 24 hours later.

Those who have no iodine problems, the patch doesn’t fade until the full 24 hours have passed. Those that are deficient absorb the patch faster.

Iodine Loading Test

This is when you measure how much iodine you get rid of in your urine over the course of a day. It’s not the fastest or most convenient.

How You Can Prevent Iodine Deficiency

good food on the table

As mentioned before, your body doesn’t make iodine, so how you get it is completely through diet.

Foods With High Iodine

There are foods that you can add to your diet that will help prevent any deficiency. Below are some of the biggest culprits:

  • Seaweed
  • Baked Cod
  • Cranberries
  • Plain Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Baked Potato
  • Raw Milk
  • Shrimp
  • Navy Beans
  • Egg
  • Dried Prunes

How You Can Deal With Iodine Deficiency

people exercising

Similar to how to prevent the deficiency, the best way to deal with it is through a healthy diet. If that’s not enough, you can try to take supplements. Most supplements will have herbs like kelp or seaweed, which is full of iodine.  

Though be careful, you can’t take more than 150 mcg a day. If you take too much, it can lead to an overactive thyroid, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, strokes, and more.

Also make sure that ingredients list has potassium iodide and potassium iodate.

If the deficiency gets to be too much, you may need hospitalization. They will give you IV fluids. They may even give thyroid hormones to help you.

Why Is Low Iodine Such A Problem?

woman's back

The biggest reason has to do with environmental factors. Food that grows in soil that has low iodine levels are becoming more common. This is why certain areas of the globe have a bigger deficiency than others.


Fluoride is a big problem. It’s a halogen that’s lighter than iodine and can easily replace it. This means you start to develop the deficiency.


Iodine is used to process flour, but manufacturers have replaced it with bromide. This is another halogen that has a lower atomic weight than iodine.

It then competes with iodine within your body.


This is a contaminant found in groundwater in the US. It’s also found in milk, fruit, and vegetables. In high doses, it can get in the way of your thyroid function.

In low doses, it makes more iodine and causes an overactive thyroid.


This can interfere with getting more iodine in your thyroid. It’s in processed meats like lunch meat, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, and some packaged seafood.


This is one of the toxins that iodine gets rid of for you. It’s found in fish, dental amalgams, and in things like electronics, batteries, light bulbs, and pharmaceutical products.

It’s All About Diet And Exercise

woman exercising

Overall, it’s not so bad. If you catch it early, it can be stopped and reversed with no side effects. Though, if it’s caught after complications happen, those can be permanent.

The US is lucky because it’s has the lowest amount of iodine deficiency. This is because of the invention of iodine salt in the 1920s.

It’s fairly easy to prevent this problem with diet and exercise. It’s easy to find recipes full of iodine rich food.

Keep track of how you are feeling, what you are eating, and where you have been going. All these factors play into what you are exposed to.

You should talk to your doctor before trying any separate supplements. Many of them contain more than the allowed daily amount. If you take too much, it will make you seriously sick.

It may be more likely that you don’t have an iodine problem, than that you actually do. In the US especially, it’s low. Always talk to your doctor.