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World Iodine Deficiency Day: Why You Need This Essential Mineral

Dr Pramiti Rastogi shares her knowledge on Iodine deficiency and solutions to it..

Iodine is a trace element that is vital for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate the metabolism, growth, and development of the body, especially the brain. Iodine is not made by the body, so it must be obtained from the food we eat or from supplements. The recommended daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms, and for pregnant and lactating women, it is 250 and 290 micrograms respectively.

Iodine deficiency is a serious public health problem that affects millions of people worldwide, especially in regions where the soil and water are low in iodine. In India, the entire population is at risk of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) due to the deficiency of iodine in the soil and the food derived from it. According to the National Family Health Survey – 5 (2019-21), the prevalence of goitre and any other thyroid disorders, based on self-reports in women (15-49 years) was found to be 3%.

Iodine deficiency can cause a range of health problems, such as:

– Goitre: an enlargement of the thyroid gland that can cause swelling in the neck, breathing difficulties, and voice changes.

– Hypothyroidism: a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, hair loss, and depression.

– Cretinism: a severe form of mental and physical retardation that occurs in children born to mothers who are severely iodine deficient during pregnancy. It can cause stunted growth, deafness, speech impairment, and intellectual disability.

– Miscarriage, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies: iodine deficiency can also affect the reproductive health of women and the development of the fetus.

The best way to prevent iodine deficiency is to consume iodized salt, which is salt fortified with iodine. The government of India has made it mandatory for all edible salt to be iodized since 1992 under the National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP). However, there are still some challenges in ensuring the availability and quality of iodized salt, as well as the awareness and compliance of consumers. Therefore, it is important to check the label of salt packets for the presence and level of iodine before buying them. Other sources of iodine include seafood, dairy products, eggs, and some fruits and vegetables.

World Iodine Deficiency Day is observed every year on October 21 to raise awareness about the importance of iodine for human health and well-being. It also aims to promote universal salt iodization as a safe, effective, and sustainable strategy to eliminate IDD. Let us join hands in this global effort to ensure that everyone has access to adequate iodine intake and prevent the devastating consequences of iodine deficiency.

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