Many Russians are deeply convinced that of all the existing trace elements, iodine is the last in importance and you can do without it. At least, few of us think about how to control the level of iodine in the body. But the prevention of deficiency is carried out by few.
In fact, we are talking about a fateful substance that is not synthesized in our body. In adults, even a slight lack of it can lead to asymptomatic disturbances in the functions of the thyroid gland, while in children it can inhibit intellectual development.
To stay healthy, iodine we must receive from the outside, and every day.
Iodine deficiency is experienced by 75% of Russians. Epidemiological studies have shown: the deficit has covered the entire territory of our country, only its degree varies.
In most Russian regions, including Moscow and the Moscow region, iodine deficiency is assessed by experts as mild and moderate. The most serious defect was found in some mountain regions of the North Caucasus and in the Republic of Tyva.
In other countries, the situation is no better, so all nations, with the exception of the Japanese, should enrich their diet with iodine.
The iodine content of food products – milk, eggs, meat, cereals, fruits and vegetables – depends on the level of this trace element in the soil on which plants and animals were grown.
The problem has acquired a planetary scale hundreds of thousands of years ago. The absence of iodine in the upper fertile soil layers (and, therefore, in plants grown on depleted fields and in the meat of animals that feed on these plants) is a natural phenomenon with which humanity has to put up. As a result of the long and turbulent geological life of the Earth, almost all of the iodine that was on the surface of the land was washed away by rain and meltwater into the depths of the sea.
Today, it is pointless to look for iodine in vegetables, fruits and nuts: it is negligible there. The only available source of microelement is the world’s oceans, more precisely, its edible gifts, which is why, of all nations, only the Japanese, every day absorbing fish, seafood and algae in large portions, are reliably insured against iodine deficiency.
Without iodine, the synthesis of two major thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine, is impossible. Both substances are necessary for the proper functioning of all organs and body systems. Iodine deficiency initially leads to malfunctions in the thyroid gland, which, if not properly treated, are usually followed by disorders of the cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems, as well as problems with bone tissue, basic metabolism, and so on.
The excess of the trace element is extremely rare, but also leads to unpleasant consequences (high blood pressure, osteoporosis). The relationship between the state of the thyroid gland and other organs and tissues is due to the fact that they all have special receptors that are sensitive to thyroxin and triiodothyranin.
For this very reason, the lack of iodine never passes without a trace.
In children, iodine deficiency most often leads to diffuse endemic goiter – an enlarged thyroid gland (in adults, goitre is usually nodular or multinodular). With this disease, the body grows in size so that, in conditions of deficiency, it still produces the right amount of hormones. Visually, these changes are not always noticeable, and in small children the goiter most often becomes an accidental find: as a rule, the doctor discovers it during a routine examination.
If iodine deficiency is mild or moderate, then the function of the thyroid gland is usually preserved, and it is quite easy to correct the situation. Usually, doctors prescribe a semi-annual course of iodine monodrugs in physiological doses (about 200 micrograms), after which it is necessary to undergo a second examination.
For severe forms, thyroid hormone preparations may be required.
Before making a diagnosis of diffuse endemic goiter, the physician should rule out autoimmune diseases. To do this, the baby needs to pass a blood test for specific antibodies and make an ultrasound of the thyroid gland.
Only after these two studies can you come to the right conclusion.
In regions with severe iodine deficiency, hypothyroidism may develop, a disease in which the synthesis of thyroid hormones is disturbed. In areas with moderate or mild deficiency, hypothyroidism can begin only on the background of chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, another serious disease that is not related to iodine deficiency.
It is necessary to begin the fight against hypothyroidism immediately: its consequences cannot be reversed. There is no need to be afraid of hormonal therapy: drugs help to compensate for the lack of a hormone that is vital for the baby.
At risk for the development of iodine deficiency disorders include pregnant and lactating women and babies under 3 years. During pregnancy, the expectant mother has to share the reserves of iodine with the baby, so during this period, dysfunctions of the thyroid gland are observed quite often (endemic goiter occurs in 25% of pregnant women).
The need for iodine occurs in the baby long before birth. Thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine are directly involved in the growth and formation of the central nervous system, including the brain (its foundation begins on the 16-17th week).
Own thyroid gland in the fetus does not develop immediately, so he needs the support of my mother’s. In order for the baby to receive the necessary portion of hormones, the required amount of iodine must be administered to the woman’s body. If on these terms the mother is in deficit, the troubles of the crumbs are provided.
Brain structures continue to actively form up to 3 years, and all this time the need for iodine in children remains high.
With a slight shortage, “borderline” intellectual development disorders usually develop. They can not be identified with the help of medical research and laboratory tests, but by indirect evidence they are quite easy to calculate.
Such children in school learn much worse than their peers (it is especially difficult for them to give exact sciences that imply advanced abstract thinking), they don’t shine with talents, their memory doesn’t work well, they are inattentive and uninteresting. The most unpleasant thing is that all these side effects are irreversible, and it is impossible to correct them with medicines.
With a pronounced shortage, there is a real threat of cretinism.
1) Iodine deficiency is easy to spot.
Severe symptoms (for example, endemic goiter) do not appear immediately, but only at a critical moment, before the onset of which the body suffers from a lack of iodine for quite a long time.
2) Sea salt makes up for iodine deficiency better than iodized.
It is a myth. 1 g of iodized salt contains 40 mcg of iodine, and 1 g of sea salt contains only 1 mcg.
Sea salt cannot be considered iodized, because iodine is present in it in meager amounts. The way out is to buy iodized sea salt.
3) Iodized salt can cause an overdose.
In order for this to happen, it is necessary to consume almost 50 g of salt per day, which is basically impossible: such dishes will be inedible.
4) Iodized salt is stored for long.
Until the end of the 1990s, manufacturers used potassium iodide – a really not very stable iodine compound. According to the GOST, adopted in 2000, a more resistant analogue, potassium iodate, is used today for the same purpose. Thanks to technological know-how, the useful element has ceased to deteriorate in the light, and the salt enriched with it no longer requires dark packaging.
The shelf life of the “improved” option is at least 12 months.
If iodine is supplied daily and in adequate quantities, it accumulates in the thyroid gland, and these troubles can be avoided. But since the doses contained in food are a priori lacking, the dilemma has to be solved with the help of modern technologies.
In developed countries, iodine deficiency has been eradicated thanks to the law on the use of iodized salt. Somewhere it is added to the popular types of bread, somewhere in all sausages and cheeses, and somewhere ordinary raw salt is completely prohibited for sale. A good example has already been adopted by many former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkmenistan.
In Russia, the state program for the prevention of iodine deficiency does not exist, and our compatriots are doomed to get sick and spend personal savings on doctors and medicines.
Of course, iodized salt can be used on its own initiative in home life, but since all other foods will not be enriched with this microelement, the effect will be insignificant: eating a lot of salt will not work, even if you try hard. In order to compensate for the shortage, the food industry should be involved in the preventive program.
Until this happens, it is necessary to take additional measures. Healthy children older than 3 years and adults, it is desirable to constantly drink multivitamins, which include iodine. By law, only iodized salt should be used in kitchens in kindergartens, but this item is not always respected, so it makes sense to use it at home.
Vulnerable groups need a more reliable protection program. Doctors advise pregnant and lactating mothers to take officially registered pharmacological preparations containing iodine. There are only two of them on the Russian market – Iodomarin and Jodobanans.
They are used both for the treatment and for the prevention of iodine deficiency disorders. Do not rely on dietary supplements in this matter: they do not pass clinical trials, and no one has tested their effectiveness.
At the stage of preparation for conception, 150 mcg per day is sufficient, for 9 months and the entire period of breastfeeding – 250 mcg each. Children up to 3 years old need 100 mcg per day.
However, in each case, the doctor should select the drug and the dose, taking into account the parallel use of iodized salt and multivitamin complexes. Uncontrolled reception is fraught with an overdose of iodine, which is also dangerous.
The supplement can be administered from birth, but if the baby is breastfeeding and the mother follows the above recommendations, prevention is not necessary for the child at this time.
A test for congenital hypothyroidism all babies are still in the hospital during neonatal screening. If the result is positive, you must pass a control study.
Treatment must begin before the crumbs turn a year: then violations will become irreversible. Acquired hypothyroidism parents themselves may be suspected by their appearance. If a child is lagging behind his peers in physical and psychomotor development (if he is short, he begins to talk, walk, learns less well), it is advisable to take an analysis of thyroid hormones as soon as possible.
Sometimes hypothyroidism is accompanied by edema (face, arms, legs). When a child’s tongue swells, his speech may be slowed down, and this is also a signal for action.