Iodine Deficiency

Iodine is a metal that helps produce thyroid hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism and other significant functions. Thyroid hormones are especially important to the body because they are required for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy (Mighty Micronutrients). Symptoms of iodine deficiency include “stunted growth, mental retardation, and delayed sexual development in a fetus; lower-than-average IQ in infants and children; decreased ability to work and think clearly in adults; and goiter” (Mighty Micronutrients).

The CDC claims that iodine deficiency is the biggest contributor to brain damage, which can be proactively avoided (IMMPaCt). This is especially problematic for fetuses and young children, because such deficiency can lead to cretinism (severely stunted mental and physical growth due a lack of thyroid hormones) and negatively impact proper fetal brain development. This can directly lead to a 10-15% decrease in a child’s average intellectual quotient (IQ), which therefore affects social and economic vitality in various countries. “The World Bank has estimated that, combined with vitamin A deficiency and iron deficiency, iodine deficiency may lower the economic wealth of a nation by as much as 5% every year” (IMMPaCt). Adequate sources of iodine include iodized salt, fish, seaweed, shrimp, dairy and grain products, fruits, and vegetables.