An iodine deficiency is when the body is not getting enough iodine. The body does not produce iodine and therefore must depend on outside sources to get enough. The body needs iodine to help produce thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a regulator of the body and is needed for the body to function properly.
Iodine deficiency in pregnant women could lead to mental retardation in their offspring. It is recommended that women be given a multi-vitamin containing iodine to avoid a deficiency.
United States vs. Other Areas
In certain areas of Europe and Africa, iodine deficiencies are high. In the United States, where a high iodine diet is consumed, iodine deficiency is low. Iodine foods consist of eggs, cheese, breads, seaweed, cow’s milk, soy milk and salt with iodine added.
A goiter or enlarged thyroid can develop if an iodine deficiency exists. When the body indicates to the thyroid it is low in iodine, the thyroid becomes even more active trying to compensate. This over compensation will cause a goiter. Goiters are bad because they can produce lumps or nodules that can block the air passage way and cause choking.
Another common symptom when iodine deficiency is present is hypothyroidism. This simply means the thyroid is under producing the necessary hormone needed for the body.