Iodine is a key component of food that regulates thyroid function and indirectly impacts hair health. Better thyroid function help in maintaining hair health and increases hair growth. While most of the people believe in topical solutions for hair health, the reality is a deficiency of essential minerals in our diet causes hair loss and no amount of topical hair treatments can replace a healthy balanced and mineral-rich diet.
To prevent hair loss due to thyroid problems, it is very important to have sufficient iodine in our diet. As per standards, adults require 150 mcg of daily iodine dosage. However, the consultation of a doctor is recommended before taking iodine pills.
How does thyroid gland function?
The function of the thyroid gland is to take “iodine” from various sources of food and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid cells are the only cells that are capable of absorbing iodine and produce T3 and T4 hormones. These hormones get absorbed in the bloodstream and reach the different parts of the body where it controls metabolism.
Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. The normal thyroid gland produces about 80% T4 and about 20% T3, however, T3 possesses about four times the hormone “strength” as T4.
The production of thyroid hormones is controlled by the pituitary gland. The gland secretes a hormone known as Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). When the levels of T3 and T4 in the blood lowers the pituitary gland secretes TSH which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4 hormones.
Iodine deficiency in your diet will result in insufficient production of hormones which results in thyroid disorders like goiter or hypothyroidism. Thyroid disorders have wide-ranging effects on various aspects of health, including hair production. Production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine dictates the rate of growth, thickness, texture, and color of your hair. Severe and prolonged hypothyroidism can cause loss of hair. Further, iodine deficiency can result in dry and rough hair. Other than hair loss there are severe health consequences such as increased cholesterol, heart failure, and coma.
How to treat iodine deficiency?
If your hair feels coarse and you suspect thyroid disorder to be the culprit, it is highly advisable that you consult a doctor. Based on your problem, the doctor may conduct some tests to determine the real cause. If you’re diagnosed with thyroid disorder resulting from iodine deficiency, you’ll likely be prescribed iodine supplements.
PS: Don’t consume iodine supplements without consulting a doctor. Excess iodine in the bloodstream may result in bleeding, hives and even death.
If you are concerned about the lack of iodine in your diet, eat iodine-rich foods which will be safe for health as well. Below is the list of foods that are rich in iodine.
Seaweeds: Seaweeds is an excellent source of iodine. Seaweed variety includes kombu kelp, wakame, and nori. Among this kombu kelp has the highest amount of iodine, with some varieties containing nearly 2,000% of the daily value in one gram.
Fishes: Codfish is a low-fat fish with a mild taste. Low-fat fish contain a high amount of iodine as compared to fatty fishes. For instance, 3 ounces of codfish constitute 42-66% of the daily value. Tuna is also a low-calorie, high-protein, iodine-rich food. Furthermore, it is a good source of potassium, iron and B vitamins. Tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk of heart disease.
Dairy: Dairy products are major sources of iodine. 1 cup of milk can provide 59–112% of the recommended daily amount of iodine. Yogurt is also a good dairy source of iodine. One cup of plain yogurt provides approximately half of the daily recommended amount. Cottage cheese is also a great source of iodine.
Salt: Table salt and sea salt have enough iodine to treat iodine deficiency in the body. There is approximately 71 mcg of iodine in 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt, which is 47% of the daily recommended intake.
Eggs: The iodine is present in the egg yolk. One large egg constitutes 10-16% of the daily recommended amount.
Topical Iodine for Alopecia Areata
Iodine may also influence hair growth in another way. The topical treatment of iodine is sometimes used as a treatment to stimulate hair growth in people with alopecia areata. In case you don’t know what Alopecia Areata is – It is a common skin disorder that results in small, irregular bald patches throughout the scalp. Topical iodine and other skin irritants may benefit people with alopecia areata by causing a mild allergic reaction that stimulates hair growth.
According to an article published in the “Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology,” tincture iodine may be prescribed for patients with alopecia as the first line of management; however, more aggressive treatments including corticosteroid injections may be prescribed if topical irritants don’t work.