The signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency are often overlooked, since many of them are very similar of what we call “ageing”. Ageing is a convenient theory to collect conditions for which we have little curiosity about their true cause. As such, there may be several causes that do not originate directly from ageing.
Low energy or depression
Even when physicians provide a diagnostic label, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, they usually can offer few suggestions of what might be the underlying causes. Both are related to muscle weakness, and may have more than one cause. An older man may suffer from low testosterone levels as well as muscles atrophying from disuse. Declining ATP (a core of the energy cycle) production has been shown to improve by taking a creatine supplement. Degrees of depression vary from just feeling low, or discouraged to "clinical depression" which is taken seriously by the medical establishment.
There is a wide range of severity. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the big ticket item so that slow recall of names, so common in older folks, is either considered a part of normal ageing or a precursor to AD. When AD was first defined, it was thought that a brain biopsy that revealed "tangles" was needed to differentiate it from dementia due to atherosclerotic cerebral or carotid arteries that supply the brain. Most related studies simply define this group of signs and symptoms "Alzheimer's disease”.
The B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E, calcium, and magnesium are necessary for the brain. In older people, these nutrients are often absorbed at a lower rate by the gut, leading to AD, dementia and other symptoms such as depression, numbness, low energy and memory problems. Intelligent supplementation with these essential nutrients can slow, prevent, or reverse these problems of brain function.
Moisturising lotions seem to be the only remedy, but even with their use, break-through itching followed by malignant scratching can pose a problem. Cretinism is a term describing those suffering severe iodine deficiency in an area where soils and the food supply have markedly low levels of iodine. It may exhibit dry skin. However, a severe iodine deficiency is likely to cause in addition other much more striking symptoms. Age-related dry skin might respond to vitamin A, which encourages the growth of healthy epithelial cells.
Cold hands and feet
Very common in ageing, poor circulation due to atherosclerotic femoral arteries can be so severe that the condition is given the medical title intermittent claudication. With exercise, the leg muscles cry out in pain for more oxygen. Blood supply to the hands and feet is partly under the control of signals from the autonomic nervous system that controls the dilation or constriction of arteries through the release of catecholamines, adrenalin being the best known. Blood sluggishly remaining in capillaries can make the hand or foot look blue when its oxygen is consumed. This symptom can often be prevented with supplements of magnesium, which helps the peripheral arteries to relax, reducing their constriction to increase blood flow. For over 45 years, high doses of vitamin E have been used to successfully treat intermittent claudication. Supplements of vitamins C and E taken in adequate doses over months to years can also help prevent atherosclerosis.
Rather than passing off these conditions as just being a product of ageing, how much better it would be to find more tangible causes. Certainly, iodine deficiency may be one cause among many. As we age, absorption of essential nutrients from the gut generally suffers. Supplements of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals including iodine taken in adequate doses can prevent or reverse many of the symptoms associated with age.