Iodine deficiency hurts your thyroid and other body systems

The thyroid, which is a gland located in your neck, produces hormones that help control your heart rate, body temperature, metabolism (how fast your body uses energy) and growth. To produce these hormones, your body needs plenty of iodine—a mineral that is very important to your health.

What are the symptoms of iodine deficiency?

When your body doesn’t have enough iodine, you have an iodine deficiency. An iodine deficiency can lead to goiters (enlarged thyroid glands) or even hypothyroidism[K1]. Signs of hypothyroidism include:

  • Dry hair
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight gain
  • A swollen-looking face or droopy eyelids
  • Slow heart rate
  • Constipation

It’s extremely important that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat enough iodine. Iodine helps babies grow well and develop healthy brains. Babies and newborns who don’t get enough iodine may have intellectual disabilities.

In the past, people in some areas of the United States, such as around the Great Lakes or in Appalachia, were more likely to get the condition because there isn’t enough iodine in the soil in those areas. However, iodine deficiency is now rare in the United States since iodine was added to table salt.

How is iodine deficiency treated?

Your body doesn’t make iodine, so it’s important that you get plenty of iodine in your diet. You can find iodine in table salt (iodized salt), eggs, seaweed, seafood and dairy products. Most multivitamins also contain iodine.

If you are diagnosed with iodine deficiency, adding more salt or a multivitamin to your diet can help.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.