What has Iodine got to do with your energy, physical and mental (IQ) development?

A recent study (published last year in The Lancet) demonstrated that even a mild deficiency of iodine before you conceive can lower a child’s reading ability (aged six) and their IQ. A more marked deficiency in pregnancy may lead to even more serious consequences for your child. As it has been estimated that almost half of all women of child bearing age are mildly deficient in this mineral, it is highly likely that a high proportion of school-age children deficient in iodine, which can result in significant health problems. 

If you feel tired or lacking in energy, this could be due to a lack of iodine in your diet. You may know that Iodine is important for thyroid functioning, but did you know it helps maintain healthy cells and an optimal metabolic rate, and thereby energy production? Therefore, a lack of iodine could sap you of energy and result in low mood and even result in weight gain.

The following issues could also be as a result of an iodine deficiency:

  • Pregnancy - Miscarriages and stillbirths.
  • Childhood and adolescence - Impoverished physical and mental development.
  • Adulthood - Fibrocystic breast disease as breast tissue requires large amounts of iodine, a lack of iodine can cause severe pain and the development of cysts and nodules.

Where is iodine found in the diet?

Iodine is found in a range of foods - the richest sources being fish and dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, eggs and cheese. Seaweed is also concentrated source of iodine.

If you are thinking of starting a family and/or do not eat fish/shellfish or milk, I always recommend testing to ensure you have adequate stores. Conceiving with optimal stores is always best and you may not be able to correct a deficiency with diet alone.

In addition, during pregnancy you will need an increased amount of iodine to ensure your body can make sufficient thyroid hormones to transfer to your baby. This will ensure its brain develops correctly. Breastfeeding mums also need a higher amount of iodine, so their breast milk has enough iodine for their baby. This is because the brain is still developing at that early stage.

Testing may also be worthwhile if you or any of your family members suffer any of the above problems. The test is a simple urine sample, which can be sent to a laboratory (such as www.biolab.co.uk), if you are unable to visit it in person.  Ideally, consult a nutritional therapist or integrated medical doctor to see advice.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW15 & W1H
Written by Melody Mackeown, mBANT, CNHC, BSEM | Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach
London SW15 & W1H

Melody has a Masters Degree in Personalised Nutrition and specialises in helping you with problems conceiving, gut problems, autoimmune disorders, weight loss and more.

Melody treats the whole person, not just the disconnected symptoms and as a result, clients typically see significant positive improvements to their health within just 3-6 months.

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