Iodine deficiency can be tackled in a simple way

Dr Vineetha Krishnan

Chennai: Of late, there has been a rise in the production of fortified products, especially those infused with iodine.

Experts in the city say that there has not been many cases reported of decline in iodine content and further state that the condition is common in the hilly and plateau regions where awareness is less.

“It is a naturally available mineral that can be found in abundance in soil. Deficiency of this leads to goiter, abnormal enlargement of thyroid gland which results in swelling of neck. The gland secretes thyroid hormone which is essential for metabolic activities, secretion and functioning of other hormones and protein synthesis,” said Dr Vineetha Krishnan, nutritionist, Fortis Malar Hospital.

Dr Vineetha further stated, “Global reports suggest that women all over the world are commonly affected with iodine-deficient conditions. The requirement of iodine varies from person to person, based on several issues. However, it is required for pregnant and lactating women as the child they bear / feed has to be nourished. Also, 100 micrograms of iodine should be found in 100 ml of urine.”

The lack of the mineral can be diagnosed with a simple thyroid test where the levels of two major hormones – triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) – is checked.

“The deficiency of iodine, known as hypothyroidism, in children can lead to severe complications such as neural disorder, attention disorder, mental retardation, bone defects, stunted growth, weight gain and other metabolic disorders. It can be efficiently tackled if the mother is given sufficient amounts of the mineral during pregnancy,” added Dr Vineetha.

Thyroid hormone deficiency is an illness which is caused either due to iodine deficiency or other factors like enzyme defects or inherited disease conditions.

Dr Benny Benjamin

However, the condition is caused due to iodine deficiency in a majority of children, said Fortis Malar Hospital consultant pediatrician, Dr Benny Benjamin.

The need for iodine can be met through diet. Seafood is an excellent source of the mineral.

However, experts say that this form of deficiency is common in people residing in the hilly regions as they are unaware of the implications and do not have access to iodine-rich sources of food.


To keep iodine deficiency at bay, iodised salt was introduced around two decades ago and is seen to be functioning well.

“As the thyroid gland is affected, it affects the functionality of muscle, heart and brain,” said Dr Mohamed Aabrez Shams, a general practitioner based in Chennai.


Polyps, shrimps, sea algae, seaweeds and other deep sea fishes.

Milk, dairy products and fruits.


“As the thyroid gland is affected, it, in turn, affects the functionality of muscle, heart and brain. Though we have been taught that the pituitary gland is the master gland, in reality, it is the hypothalamus that is as the master gland and has control over all the hormonal secretions in the body.

“The master gland directs the pituitary gland for secreting other hormones – one among the list is thyroid hormone. Only when the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) acts on the thyroid gland, the hormone will be produced. When there is insufficient iodine, it affects the production of thyroid hormone, thus leading to several other complications,” said Dr Mohamed Aabrez Shams, a general practitioner based out of Chennai.

Bhavani Prabhakar