Iodine. The first thing that comes to your mind when anyone mentions this mineral is salt. But, did you know it is also an essential mineral for hair growth? If you are noticing big clumps of hair in your shower drain, you could be suffering from an iodine deficiency. But, you can overcome this problem by consuming iodine-rich food or topical application of iodine. In this article, we have discussed the benefits of iodine for hair growth, the symptoms of hair loss caused by iodine deficiency, and how to prevent it. Take a look!
Table Of Contents
What Is Iodine?
Iodine is a micronutrient that plays a significant role in not only the growth of your hair but also the growth and development of all the organs and tissues in your body. This essential mineral helps in making and regulating the thyroid hormones. If your body does not get enough iodine, your thyroid gland cannot produce thyroid hormones, which results in the shrinking of hair follicles. Lack of iodine leads to dry and brittle hair, hair thinning, and hair loss.
In the following section, we will explore the benefits of iodine for hair growth.
Benefits Of Iodine For Hair Growth
This may surprise you, but the functioning of your thyroid has a significant effect on your hair. This is because the thyroid gland uses iodine to produce hormones such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine that dictate the rate of your hair growth (1). Therefore, any thyroid disorder caused by an iodine deficiency can lead to dry and rough hair. This is one of the most common causes of hair loss among women.
Severe hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) can cause loss of hair. This condition is linked to telogen effluvium, a hair shedding disorder that leads to non-permanent diffuse hair loss (2). But, this condition has also been linked to female pattern hair loss or female androgenic alopecia (AGA) (3).
Iodine has some excellent antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties (4). It can fight any infections that could be developing around your hair follicles and causing hair fall.
Iodine combats a variety of hair problems like brittle hair and hair fall (5). Also, anecdotal evidence suggests that iodine helps combat premature graying and strengthens your hair from the roots, thus making it thick.
Iodine deficiency has some specific signs and symptoms. Let’s take a look at them.
Symptoms Of Hair Loss Due To Iodine Deficiency
Since iodine plays such a huge role in maintaining the health of your hair, its deficiency will have some detrimental effect on your hair. Hair loss or balding is a common symptom of a thyroid imbalance.
Here are a few hair-related symptoms that could be caused by a shortage of iodine in your body.
- Reduction in hair volume and consequent thinning of hair
- Hair starts getting coarser
- Premature graying
- The appearance of bald spots in areas that used to be covered with hair
Along with these hair-related symptoms, there are some other hypothyroid symptoms you might experience that could confirm that you have an iodine deficiency. These include extreme weight gain, dry skin, muscle pain, dizziness, fatigue, excessive sweating, constipation, rapid heartbeat, swelling of wrists and ankles, reduced sleep (insomnia), heightened cholesterol levels, anxiety and panic attacks, and goiter.
Surely, these are some pretty serious symptoms and bound to cause more than a little discomfort. Let’s see how it affects hair growth in the following section.
How Iodine Deficiency Affects Hair Growth?
Lack of sufficient iodine in your body can impact the overall health of hair. Hypothyroidism due to low levels of iodine can cause dry and coarse hair, which, in turn, causes breakage and hair fall. High thyroid hormone levels can affect the strength of the roots, whereas low levels can cause premature greying of hair. Furthermore, in severe cases, this may lead to permanent baldness.
Your next course of action needs to be to get some iodine in your diet and in your hair ASAP. Keep reading to see what you need to do next.
How To Use Iodine For Hair Growth
The quickest and most effective way to stop hair fall caused by iodine deficiency is to use white (decolorized) iodine. It has allegedly shown promising results in treating bald spots caused by alopecia. Another way it is claimed to combat hair fall is by attacking any fungal infection that could be feeding on your hair follicles and weakening your hair. So, here’s a simple way to use it.
1. Topical Application Of Iodine
What You Need
- White iodine (It comes in a bottle in liquid form and is easily available in drugstores)
- Wash your hair as usual and let it air-dry.
- Once your hair and scalp are completely dry, apply some white iodine on the areas that are experiencing hair loss.
- Gently massage it into your scalp to ensure maximum absorption.
- If using white iodine directly on your scalp causes irritation, dilute it in a couple of tablespoons of water before applying it.
- Repeat this application every day to see effective results. You can also apply white iodine twice a day on areas that have too much hair loss.
2. Iodine-Rich Foods
Though white iodine can treat hair loss and aid hair growth to an extent, you still need to address the iodine deficiency in your body to fully solve your hair troubles. The only way to do that is by adding iodine to your diet. Here are a few iodine-rich foods that you can start eating!
- Iodized Salt: Iodized salt (make sure that it explicitly says ‘iodized salt’ on the packaging) is the most convenient source of sodium and iodine that is essentially needed to prevent hair loss and baldness caused by hypothyroidism (7).
- Sesame Seeds: Primarily, sesame seeds contain iodine that boosts hormone production in the thyroid to aid hair growth (8). They are also rich in vitamins B1 and B6 and omega-3 fatty acids that are great for the health of your hair and scalp.
- Oysters And Shrimp: These shellfish are great sources of iodine as well as zinc. Oysters have the highest concentration of iodine (9).
- Codfish: Codfish and the oil derived from it contain high concentrations of iodine (9).
- Garlic: Not only is garlic a rich source of iodine, but it also contains sulfur and a host of other anti-inflammatory agents that boost hair growth (10).
- Dairy Products: You can get your daily allowance of iodine from dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt (11).
- Dried Seaweed: Dried seaweed like kelp, nori, and wakame are great sources of iodine (12).
Some other sources of iodine include corn, pineapple, navy and green beans, strawberries, cranberries, banana, prunes, turkey, Himalayan crystal salt, baked potato, rhubarb, tuna fish, and watercress.
These are some iodine-rich foods that you can take to deal with iodine deficiency. In the following section, we will look at its ideal dosage.
How Much Iodine Should You Take Per Day?
Just like several other supplements and nutrients, the dose of iodine is highly dependent on the age, gender, and condition of the user. Doses of 150 mcg/day appear to be safe for most adults. Pregnant and nursing women require higher doses of iodine (13).
Check out the next section for some tips for using iodine for your hair.
Tips For Using Iodine For Hair
Though increasing your iodine intake may sound pretty easy, you still need to keep some things in mind to avoid running into more serious problems. Here are a few tips that you need to keep in mind!
- Check online or ask your physician to find out how much iodine you need to consume daily according to your age and weight. This is especially important because consuming too much iodine can cause hives, enlarged lymph nodes, and internal bleeding.
- Avoid getting on a low-calorie diet as it invariably leads to iodine deficiency and can cause thyroid problems.
- Try to buy organic and fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
- Stay away from chemical treatments and take iodine supplements to get the recommended amount of iodine per day.
Iodine is an important mineral for maintaining your hair’s health. An iodine deficiency is directly linked to low thyroid hormone levels, which can have a significant effect on your hair. Iodine deficiency is one of the major causes of hair loss. But, not all hair problems are caused by iodine deficiency. So before you increase its intake, speak to your doctor regarding your diet, and get tested for iodine deficiency.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Can too much iodine cause hair loss?
No, too much iodine cannot cause hair loss. But, it can lead to more serious problems like swollen lymph nodes, internal bleeding, goiter, thyroid gland inflammation, and thyroid cancer.
What are the side effects of taking too much iodine?
Side effects of taking too much iodine include nausea, headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, runny nose, and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Is thyroid-related hair loss reversible?
Yes, thyroid-related hair loss is reversible as it can be treated by stabilizing the thyroid hormone levels.
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- Thyroid hormone signaling controls hair follicle stem cell function
- Telogen Effluvium
- Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Retrospective Study in a Tertiary Referral Center
- Antiseptics and Disinfectants: Activity, Action, and Resistance
- Dermatologic manifestations of endocrine disorders
- Successful human scar regeneration by topical iodine: a case report: an interim (3.5 year) summary
- Iron Deficiency
- Evaluation of Qualitative Dietary Protocol (Diet4Hashi) Application in Dietary Counseling in Hashimoto Thyroiditis: Study Protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial
- Iodine in food- and dietary supplement–composition databases
- Hypolipidemic effect of garlic and thyroid function
- Iodine in dairy milk: Sources, concentrations and importance to human health
- Risks and benefits of consuming edible seaweeds