Things That Make an Iodine Deficiency Even Worse
May 22, 2021
The WHO indicates that two billion people are iodine deficient. This is an incorrect statement, they are iodide deficient, iodide is the micro-nutrient form of iodine.
While the main factor involved in an iodide deficiency is, well, iodide, there are some things that can make a deficiency worse, or lead to hypothyroidism even if you’re already hitting the recommended iodide intake of 150 micrograms per day.
In some cases, these are nutrients that you’re not getting enough of, like iron or vitamin A. In other cases, the problem lies with certain compounds or elements that interfere with your thyroid’s ability to absorb iodide from your blood.
In this article, we’ll cover a few of the major factors and then suggest some steps you can take to keep you thyroid humming smoothly. Most important of course is to make sure you’re getting enough iodide.
A concurrent deficiency is one that’s happening at the same time as an iodide deficiency, resulting in more severe symptoms than a mild deficiency would normally prompt.
The vitamins most important in this case are iron and vitamin A. Deficiencies in either of these interfere with your thyroid’s ability to intake iodide, and can lead to hypothyroidism.
In fact, some studies found that even on its own vitamin A was able to reduce swelling in the thyroid gland (goiter) and allow it to absorb iodide more efficiently.
Spinach is rich in both iron and vitamin A
Solution: Quite simply, make sure you’re eating a diet rich in iron (beans, lentils, spinach, eggs various meats) and vitamin A (leafy greens, orange/yellow vegetables, tomatoes, fruit).
Alternatively, you could substitute for multivitamins, but you'll have to do some searching to find one that contains iron.
Goitrogens (named for their tendency to increase chances of goiter) are substances found in certain foods which can “interfere with iodide utilization or thyroid hormone production” (Linus Pauling Institute)
Goitrogens are found in certain species of millet, sweet potato, beans, and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli (Check out this article on Healthline for a more comprehensive list)
Unless consumed in seriously large quantities, goitrogens aren’t too dangerous on their own. However, they can exacerbate an existing iodide deficiency, increasing the risk of goiter and other harmful symptoms.
It’s worth noting that the cyanide found in tobacco smoke is also goitrogenic, and can impair the transmission of iodine to breast milk (and it's very important that babies get enough iodide, as the resultant thyroid hormones are crucial to proper neurological development).
If neither of these are possible, it may be best to reduce your consumption of goitrogens.
Given that iodide itself is a halogen, we don't want to give the impression that all halogens are harmful. Really, there are two in particular that can negatively impact your iodine uptake: fluorine and bromine
Fluorides and bromides have similar chemical compositions to iodide, which can make it hard for your thyroid to tell them apart.
These halogens end up blocking the iodide receptors in your thyroid, preventing you from getting the iodide you need to produce thyroid hormones, and can result in an iodide deficiency even if you’re getting enough iodide.
Fluoride is most commonly found in drinking water and toothpaste, though it’s also used in a wide variety of other applications.
Bromide, in the United States, is found in many processed baked goods because of the prevalence of potassium bromate as a dough conditioner.
Bromates are actually banned in many countries, including both Canada and the United Kingdom. While some American producers of baked goods have voluntarily stopped using it, it's still regularly found all over the country. Click here for a more comprehensive list provided by the EWG.
Bromides are also used in many soft drinks in the form of brominated vegetable oil, to give a specific texture and mouthfeel to the drink.
Solution: It can be hard to avoid the fluoride in drinking water without switching to bottled water (which brings with it the issue of plastic), but it is quite easy to switch to non-fluoridated toothpaste.
When it comes to bromide, your best bet is to avoid processed baked goods as much as possible. However, if you make your purchasing decisions based on the list above, you should be able to greatly reduce your exposure to bromide while maintaining the same diet.
Long story short, if you can manage to maintain your iron and vitamin A intake and avoid harmful halogens, as long as you’re getting proper iodide intake your thyroid should be humming smoothly, barring any other medical conditions.
If you suspect you’re not getting enough iodide, you should be extra careful to avoid halogens and other goitrogens, as these have the capacity to make your iodide deficiency a lot worse.
If you’re looking for a safe and easy way to maintain proper iodide nutrition, then we’ve got you covered. Take a look at some of the products in our store, and get your iodine link to life.