By: Emily Zhang
The Iodine Deficiency Disorders, aka IDD, is a disease caused by a lack of iodine intake. IDD can affect people of all ages, from infants to adults. Iodine is an essential component of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland, and it’s especially important for the brain and nervous system development. Because of this, an iodine deficiency can cause brain damage and neurocognitive impairment. A pregnant woman may also have the danger of miscarriage or stillbirths because of IDD.
A common way to determine if a patient has iodine deficiency is by checking their neck. Usually, the thyroid gland of someone with IDD will swell. Doctors can also use ultrasounds in order to diagnose a patient or test the iodine levels found in the patient’s urine.
Though it can be dangerous, IDD can be easily treated by adjusting one’s diet. A lot of seafood contains high levels of iodine, including seaweed, clams, shrimp, crab, and certain species of fish. Eggs are also a good source of iodine. Dairy and meats contain iodine as well, but the amount may vary from animal to animal. Within all types of food, vegetables and fruits have the lowest levels of iodine. Because of this, people with vegetarian or vegan diets should pay attention to what nutrients they consume in order to avoid IDD.
However, in most cases, the best way to add more iodine to one’s diet is just by eating more salt. Salt with added iodine is commonly sold in grocery stores, and just consuming that should be enough for most people. Not only is it recommended by the WHO, but it’s also the safest and most efficient way to avoid iodine deficiency disorders. If you still have low iodine levels, it’s possible to take supplements as well.