• Wednesday July 15,2020

Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency - an important topic in Germany, partly because of low-iodine arable soils. With the appropriate measures, iodine deficiency and associated physical complaints can usually be prevented at an early stage.

What is iodine deficiency?

The doctor examines the thyroid, especially if iodine deficiency prevails.

In iodine deficiency is a deficiency of the organism with iodine. In order to avoid an iodine deficiency, a sufficient intake of iodine in the diet is necessary, because iodine can not be produced independently in the body.

If there is an iodine deficiency, it has, among other things, a negative influence on various thyroid hormones. The latter, for example, are responsible for intact metabolic processes. This can be associated with a lack of energy, frequent freezing and concentration difficulties with an existing iodine deficiency.

An iodine deficiency is said to be when the iodine supply is below a recommended minimum amount. For example, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily dose of approximately 200 micrograms of iodine for both male and female adults. Children need a smaller dose depending on their size and age.


The cause of iodine deficiency is usually in the supply of foods that have too low an accumulation of iodine. A conditional iodine deficiency may be due to geographical reasons among other things: According to the German Society for Nutrition, large parts of Germany are iodine deficient areas.

In southern Germany, iodine deficiency in food is more pronounced than in northern Germany - one reason for this is the increasing distance from the sea. Often arable land in Germany is not sufficiently enriched with iodine, which can promote iodine deficiency - even if added food is consumed which are in principle rich in iodine.

Furthermore, less seafood and saltwater fish, which have a high proportion of iodine, are also consumed in the southern regions of Germany.

Symptoms, complaints & signs

Iodine deficiency can lead to many ailments. At first, too little thyroid hormone is formed, with a hypothyroidism develops with tiredness, listlessness, sensitivity to cold, difficulty concentrating and increased need for sleep. The most common symptom of prolonged iodine deficiency is enlargement of the thyroid gland in the form of a goiter.

With the increased formation of hormone-forming thyroid tissue, the thyroid gland attempts to counterbalance iodine deficiency. Therefore, a goiter may well have normal thyroid function. However, the goiter often grows unevenly and forms nodules that can turn into both autonomous adenomas and, more rarely, carcinomas. If autonomous adenomas are present, normal iodine supply suddenly leads to hyperthyroidism with increased metabolic rate, nervousness, palpitations and diarrhea.

A permanent hypofunction of the thyroid by iodine deficiency restricts the mental development and often leads to obesity due to the low basal metabolic rate. Especially dangerous is an iodine deficiency during pregnancy. This has serious effects on the development of the fetus. It often comes to miscarriages.

Newborns in iodine-deficient areas often suffer from a goiter with respiratory and swallowing complaints as well as a reduction in the development of intelligence. If the iodine deficiency is not compensated in time, it leads to so-called cretinism with complete mental retardation, growth disorders and obesity. Even with a slight iodine deficiency during pregnancy, the children often suffer from psychomotor developmental disorders and learning disabilities.

Diagnosis & History

If symptoms such as lack of energy or chronic exhaustion can be identified, which may indicate iodine deficiency, the suspicion of iodine deficiency can be confirmed, inter alia, by a blood test.

However, iodine deficiency can also lead to sequelae that are accompanied by visible symptoms. Also due to such symptoms, it can lead to suspected diagnosis of iodine deficiency. Corresponding symptoms include enlargements of the thyroid gland; In this context, one speaks of the development of a so-called goiter (a formation of a goiter by iodine deficiency).

An iodine deficiency that has been present for a long time may indicate an altered thyroid tissue or the formation of nodules on the thyroid gland. Thyroid enlargement due to iodine deficiency may also cause discomfort during swallowing and breathing.


In most cases, iodine deficiency can be relatively well prevented or treated directly, so that it does not lead to any special complaints or complications. However, if it comes to an iodine deficiency, those affected suffer from a strong exhaustion and also at a reduced resilience. Likewise, the lack of iodine can greatly increase the patient's thyroid gland.

The symptoms of the thyroid gland can also lead to dysphagia or difficulty in breathing, generally reducing the patient's quality of life. Without treatment, the iodine deficiency has a very negative effect on the general condition of the patient and may lead to severe complications or other complaints.

The treatment usually proceeds without any special complications. With the help of suitable food or dietary supplements, the iodine deficiency can be controlled and limited. Early and successful treatment will continue to reduce life expectancy.

The person concerned, however, relies on a healthy diet and must be examined regularly if necessary, so that it does not come back to these complaints. In older people, surgery may be necessary to remove a possible goiter.

When should you go to the doctor?

People who suffer from prolonged fatigue and exhaustion should consult a doctor and seek medical care. For lack of drive, an increased need for sleep or very fast fatigue despite sufficient night sleep a doctor's visit is recommended. If the person suffering from a disorder of his concentration and his attention, his performance level drops prematurely or slows the motor skills a few hours after the beginning of the day, should a check-up visit to a doctor.

If the feeling of cold is unusually strong in comparison to other people, if the person concerned has a pale appearance or if there are hormonal disorders, a doctor should be consulted. In case of irregular menstruation, it is advisable if the affected woman visits a doctor. If a harsh or hoarse voice sets in or the eyelids are always swollen, these warnings of the body should be examined by a doctor. Swelling of the thyroid gland, difficulty swallowing or breathing problems should also be examined by a doctor.

If a pregnant woman suffers from the symptoms described, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. In the case of iodine deficiency, there are more and more false or stillbirths that can only be prevented by adequate medical care. In addition, children later develop developmental disorders that are based on an iodine deficiency during pregnancy.

Treatment & Therapy

If a patient has an iodine deficiency that can not be compensated by ingesting food, there is the option of taking additional iodine via so-called nutritional supplements or medicines. If consequential diseases have already developed due to iodine deficiency, a treatment may be necessary that goes beyond remedying the iodine deficiency:

For the treatment of a crop caused by iodine deficiency, for example, thyroid hormones can be administered by medication. Often, these drugs are also supplemented with iodine. The goal of this therapy is to reduce or eliminate the iodine deficiency goiter.

Thyroid hormones are also often used to treat hypothyroidism as a result of iodine deficiency; The appropriate amount of thyroid hormones that is appropriate for a patient can be determined from hormone blood levels.

If iodine deficiency has led to the development of a very large goiter, a drug treatment is not always a sufficient measure; The consequences of iodine deficiency must occasionally be tackled through operational measures. Especially in the elderly, such a surgical procedure may be necessary.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for iodine deficiency is usually favorable. The disorder can be well treated by medical measures but also by various ways of self-help. Without adequate care, the existing discomfort will persist and become increasingly common to many people throughout their lives. The quality of life is limited in these cases, but is not a serious condition.

In the case of iodine deficiency, the person concerned can do much to maintain his or her health by regulating their diet. With the increase in consumption of particularly iodine-containing products can be a regulated deficiency regulate. The existing complaints are reduced or or completely alleviated. These persons suffer from a complaint-free right. In the case of a severe iodine deficiency, medical assistance should be sought for a good prognosis. This ensures an adequate supply of iodine on the basis of the individual measured values.

An iodine deficiency in pregnant women can lead to problems of the offspring. Here, adequate and timely medical care is imperative in order to avoid interference with intelligence or growth restrictions. In order to achieve a good prognosis for the offspring, the pregnant woman must be supplied with a sufficient amount of iodine. Otherwise, lifelong impairments of the child are to be expected.


To effectively prevent iodine deficiency, especially by a sufficiently iodine-rich diet. Particularly iodine-containing foods are, for example, seafood and fish. Proportionally, iodine is also found in mushrooms, broccoli or peanuts.

In order to prevent iodine deficiency, the use of iodine-containing salt in the kitchen is still recommended. In addition to food, for example, so-called iodide tablets can prevent iodine deficiency; This option should be discussed in advance, however, best with a physician.


The purpose of the aftercare is to prevent a new illness. After a first diagnosis, this is best achieved through a suitable diet. Fish, seafood, peanuts and mushrooms can cover the body's natural iodine requirements. The doctor informs his patients about this during the initial diagnosis.

The person responsible bears the responsibility for the implementation of food consumption. Only in pregnant women and other risk groups are sometimes further investigations. Suitable methods for determining a deficiency are the blood analysis and the ultrasound image. The above-mentioned measures are usually sufficient to prevent complications.

Increases the risk, doctors can prescribe dietary supplements and iodine-containing tablets. The aftercare for iodine deficiency does not aim at a permanent medication. Rather, a recurring occurrence refers to a permanent hypothyroidism. An operative procedure then becomes inevitable.

Iodine deficiency therefore provides patients with a balanced diet. The medical follow-up provides information and information that every patient can use in their everyday lives. Further scheduled examinations are not planned. Risk groups, however, are ordered more times. About the thyroid can be made clear statements about the progression of the disease. Also, iodine-containing drugs provide comfort in everyday life.

You can do that yourself

Iodine is not produced by the body and must be supplied to the organism from the outside. A balanced diet is sufficient for optimum iodine supply. Walks on iodine containing sea air supplement the nutrient supply and fill up iodine reserves. The use of iodized salt prevents deficiency as well as the regular consumption of sea fish.

An occurring iodine deficiency is however not to be compensated by the food intake alone. The pharmacy offers preparations for the elimination of iodine deficiency. In contrast to the natural intake, the iodine from enriched products can lead to overdose. The recommended intake of the trace element must be adhered to, as a regular exceeding of the daily maximum amount triggers dysfunction of the thyroid gland.

If iodine deficiency is associated with low blood iron levels, iodine can not be fully absorbed by the body. In the case of one-sided nutrition or in a phase of increased need, a preparation with sensibly combined minerals and trace elements is suitable.

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