The importance of iodine for Women’s Health

It is a misconception that you have to a Goitre to be iodine deficient. In fact women iodine affects the menstrual cycle. Some women with an iodine deficiency may experience heavy or irregular periods. This is because low thyroid hormone levels may interfere with hormones that are involved in regulating the menstrual cycle. Nov 11, 2017 – Healthline

Is iodine deficiency common?

More than 50% of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women living in Australia have been shown to be iodine deficient, and are at risk of developing thyroid disease.

How do I know if I have an iodine deficiency?

A person may have low iodine levels without showing symptoms. The most reliable way to check your iodine intake is to ask your doctor to order a urine test. Your doctor may also use a blood test to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels are normal.

The most visible consequence of iodine deficiency can be a goitre or enlarged thyroid gland. A goitre can be difficult to detect in the early stages, especially in children. An ultrasound is the best method to measure the size, shape and texture of the thyroid.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism – which can be related to low iodine levels or other forms of ‘underactive’ thyroid disease – include:

  • Lethargy and tiredness, muscular weakness and constant fatigue
  • Feeling cold (even on warm days)
  • Difficulty concentrating, slowed mental processes and poor memory
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Depression
  • Thick puffy skin or puffiness of the face
  • Hair loss
  • Dry Skin
  • Constipation
  • Weak, slow heart beat
  • Enlarged thyroid or goitre

Whilst the Thyroid Foundation does not mention this, Heavy or irregular periods and  Fibrocystic breast changes (breast lumps) are associated with iodine deficiency. Ref

Where does it come from

Iodine is a naturally occurring chemical element, like oxygen and iron. Iodine is present in fairly constant amounts in seawater, but its distribution over land and fresh water is uneven. In continents such as Australia and New Zealand, natural iodine levels are very low in the soils where we grow our vegetables, grains and graze livestock.

Why do we need Iodine?

Insufficient iodine in the diet results in a range of conditions known as Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD). Iodine deficiency is becoming an increasingly common cause of thyroid health problems in Australia.

Iodine Deficiency Disorder

Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) are caused when a person does not receive enough iodine in their diet. As a result, the Thyroid Gland increases in size (development of a goitre) and hypothyroidism can occur. Diagnosis and treatment by a specialist Endocrinologist is essential to ascertain the condition of the thyroid gland and the correct treatment.

Iodine Deficiency raises important health concerns with pregnant and lactating women and the developing baby.
Iodine Deficiency is the commonest cause worldwide of preventable mental retardation.

Iodine supplementation for all women contemplating pregnancy, pregnant or lactating is recommended by the National Health Ministers Research Council, (NHMRC), with a media statement released in January 2010. Women during this period should ingest a daily pregnancy supplement, including 150ug of iodine.

Iodine Deficiency In Australia

The Australian Thyroid Foundation (ATF), as the Consumer Advocacy Organisation for Thyroid Disorders and Iodine Deficiency, recommended by The Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), support iodine deficiency research, which shows Australian school children and pregnant and breastfeeding women suffer from mild to moderate iodine deficiency.

Reference: https://thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency