Iodine Deficiency and Thyroid Nodules

by | Oct 11, 2023

Explore the critical role of iodine in thyroid hormone production and its widespread deficiency affecting up to 45% of the global population. Learn how this deficiency is linked to thyroid nodules and discover thyroid treatment options at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic.

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Introduction to Iodine Deficiency

Iodine is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in producing thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, and development. However, despite its importance, iodine deficiency is a prevalent health issue globally, affecting 35-45% of the world’s population. In this article, we will discuss iodine deficiency, its relationship with thyroid nodules, and prevention and treatment options.

What is Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine deficiency occurs when your thyroid gland does not have enough iodine to work correctly. The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones that control various body functions, including metabolism and growth.

When there is a lack of iodine, the thyroid gland becomes enlarged in an attempt to absorb more iodine from the blood. This enlargement can result in the formation of thyroid nodules, which are abnormal growths in the thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck, and it is shaped like a butterfly. This gland produces two main hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones control various body functions, including heart rate, metabolism, and temperature. When there is an excess or a deficiency of these hormones, it can lead to health problems.


Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

The symptoms of iodine deficiency depend on the severity of the deficiency. In mild cases, there may be no visible symptoms, but as the deficiency progresses, you may experience some symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin and hair loss
  • Swelling in the neck (enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Depressed mood

If left untreated, severe iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland is underactive. In this case, you may experience more severe symptoms such as:

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Muscle weakness and cramps
  • Constipation
  • Heavy or irregular periods (in women)
  • Infertility

Causes of Iodine Deficiency

The leading cause of iodine deficiency is a lack of iodine in the diet. Iodine is found naturally in soil and seawater, and it can also be found in some foods such as seafood, dairy products, and grains. However, not all regions have naturally occurring iodine in their soil, leading to a deficiency.

In some cases, certain medical conditions can also cause iodine deficiency. For example, people with conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients in the body, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, may develop iodine deficiency.

Additionally, excessive consumption of certain foods and substances can impact how your body uses iodine. For instance, consuming large amounts of goitrogenic foods (such as broccoli and cauliflower) and taking medications like lithium can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones.

Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis, is overactivity of the thyroid gland, which results in overproduction of thyroxine hormone.

Diagnosis of Iodine Deficiency

If you are experiencing symptoms of iodine deficiency, your doctor may perform a physical exam to check for an enlarged thyroid gland. Blood tests can also measure your body’s levels of thyroid hormones and iodine.

A radioactive iodine uptake test (RAIU) may also be recommended to determine how much iodine your thyroid gland absorbs. This test involves consuming a small amount of radioactive iodine and then measuring its levels in the thyroid gland. A lower uptake indicates a deficiency.

Urine tests can also be used to measure the levels of iodine in your body. However, these tests may not always be accurate as they reflect recent iodine intake rather than long-term levels.


Prevention of Iodine Deficiency

    The best way to prevent iodine deficiency is by ensuring an adequate intake of iodine through your diet. The recommended daily intake of iodine for adults is around 150 micrograms.

    Food sources of iodine include:

    • Seafood (fish, seaweed, shrimp)
    • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
    • Iodized salt

    If you cannot get enough iodine through your diet alone, your doctor may recommend taking iodine supplements.

    It is important to note that excessive iodine intake can also have adverse effects on your health. Therefore, talking to your doctor, or a thyroid nodule specialist like Dr. Manish Taneja, before starting any supplements is essential.

    Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Treatment

    Radiofrequency ablation aims to give patients a non-surgical option for treating thyroid nodules. This procedure is a minimally invasive option that a surgeon can perform, should the preliminary tests determine that you would benefit from it.

    The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules

    The major advantages of the technique are as below.

    1. It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
    2. It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
    3. Patients are discharged the same day.
    4. Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
    5. It does not affect thyroid function.
    6. Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
    7. The treated nodules do not regrow again.
    8. No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
    9. Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
    10. The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.

    Find out how thyroid nodule Radiofrequency Ablation can help you in a minimally invasive way on our blog post, “Thyroid Nodule Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment: Diagnosis,  Management, and Recovery.”

    Treatments for Iodine Deficiency

    The treatment for iodine deficiency depends on the underlying cause and severity of the deficiency. In most cases, supplementation with iodine is recommended to restore normal levels of thyroid hormones.

    If you have an enlarged thyroid gland or thyroid nodules, your doctor may also recommend treating any underlying thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

    In rare cases where iodine deficiency leads to severe hypothyroidism, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy to manage symptoms and improve overall health.


    Recommendations for Iodine Deficiency

      Here are some recommendations for maintaining optimal iodine levels and preventing deficiency:

      • Consume a well-balanced diet that includes iodine-rich foods.
      • Avoid excessive consumption of goitrogenic foods and substances like lithium.
      • If you have underlying medical conditions, consult your doctor about monitoring your iodine levels.
      • Pregnant women should ensure adequate intake of iodine to support the baby’s brain and nervous system development.
      • In areas where iodine deficiency is prevalent, iodized salt can be a good source of this essential nutrient.


      Iodine Deficiency in Singapore and Asia

      While iodine deficiency is not as prevalent in developed countries like Singapore, it is still a concern in many developing countries in Asia. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), iodine deficiency is a significant public health problem in eight countries of the Southeast Asia Region, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

      Over 100 million people in the region suffer from endemic goiter, and over 35 million have mental or physical impairments with an intermediate or severe degree of IDD. This is mainly due to geographical factors with repeated floods leaching iodine from the soil.

      The prevalence of goiter and other related conditions in Singapore is low, thanks to successful nationwide programs to fortify salt with iodine since the 1960s. However, it is still advised to maintain a balanced diet and ensure adequate iodine intake for optimal thyroid health.

      Personalized Thyroid Care and Thyroid Nodule Treatment in Singapore

      Iodine deficiency can lead to various health issues, including thyroid nodules. It is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency and take necessary precautions to prevent it. By consuming a well-balanced diet and avoiding excessive intake of certain foods and substances, you can maintain adequate levels of iodine in your body.

      At Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore, Dr. Manish Taneja specializes in treating thyroid nodules and other vascular conditions with advanced techniques and personalized care. We invite you to fill out our contact form today to arrange an appointment and learn more about how we can help you manage your thyroid health.

      Find the Right Doctor

      From family and internal medicine to specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja is the best in the field.

      As a vascular and interventional radiology specialist, Dr Manish Taneja looks after peripheral vascular disease, aneurysms, dialysis interventions, venous diseases like deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins/spider veins/reticular veins. He is also competent in performing newer endovascular procedures such as uterine artery embolization, prostate artery embolization, genicular artery embolization, and erectile dysfunction interventions.

      Dr. Manish Taneja also has extensive experience in performing all vascular interventions, non-vascular interventions and interventional oncology procedures.

      In conclusion, thyroid nodule comes about as a result of growths on the thyroid. Find out how thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation can help you in a minimally invasive way.

      Read More About Vascular Treatments on Our Blog

      To dive deeper into the types of vascular treatments such as thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation, head over to our clinic’s blog.  Read our recommended vascular treatments related blog posts to stay informed.

      Thyroid Nodule Resources

      How to Keep Thyroid Healthy for Optimal Well-Being

      As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid hormones must be perfectly balanced at all times for the body to function normally.

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      Caring For Your Thyroid Health

      Have you ever experienced difficulty swallowing or breathing? You may have risk factors including a family history of thyroid nodules or iodine deficiency. Thyroid nodules are abnormal lumps (growths) within the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located below your voice box. Even if most thyroid nodules are benign, 10-15% of nodules are cancerous. Sometimes overgrowth of normal thyroid tissue can lead to hyperthyroidism. In other cases, multiple nodules can form in the thyroid called multinodular goiter. Fluid filled thyroid cysts can be one type of thyroid nodule within the thyroid. More complex nodules may lead to thyroid cancers.

      Depending on the root cause and type of nodule you have, patients can monitor with regular ultrasound or even have a thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAC) if required. Surgery to remove partial or whole thyroid gland can be done but thanks to minimally invasive treatments such as Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), this procedure can treat noncancerous and cancerous thyroid lumps.

      Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer

      Watch our video guide and find out more on our blog post, “Types of Thyroid Nodules and Cancer” with the types, causes, evaluation, biopsy, treatment options, and when to see a thyroid specialist. Find answers to questions on whether thyroid nodules are cancerous or not.

      Arrange Your Appointment

      Consult Vascular Specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja

      Other Health Conditions

      The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and pain management. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our thyroid nodule specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.