Exercise, Hot Flushes, Sweating and Iodine Deficiency

Exercise, Hot Flushes, Sweating and Iodine Deficiency

Exercise, Hot Flushes, Sweating and Iodine Deficiency

by Vanita Dahia

Doesn’t it feel amazing to have a good sweat after a session of exercise?
Fed up of sweating during menopause?
Constantly sweating irrespective of the temperature?

Generally, most people tend to sweat when they have exerted themselves during exercise, live in humid environments, or are undergoing hormonal changes.

Of late, there has been a greater awareness of hyperhidrosis, a condition of sweating of the palms and soles of the feet.

Did you know that iodine deficiency may be linked to excessive sweating?

The thyroid gland is in charge of regulating temperature of the body. Iodine is necessary trace element the body requires in order to activate thyroid hormones, or involved in the conversion of predominantly inactive thyroxine (T4) to activated triiodothyronine (T3).

Any thyroid imbalance will eventually affect adrenal function. The hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal axis is intimately related to the hypothalamus – pituitary – thyroid axis. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates the release of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland to regulate metabolism, and control body temperature.

The importance of Iodine

Iodine deficiency is emerging in Western societies throughout the world but may be more deficient in certain parts of the world. Iodine deficiency should be a thing of the past. Iodine has been used in the dairy and bread industries around the world. However, iodine deficiency has increased progressively and is particularly notable in pregnant women.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency may include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Goitre
  • fibrocystic breast disease
  • oestrogen imbalance
  • weight gain
  • depression
  • decreased fertility
  • prostate, endometrial, breast cancers
  • fatigue

Exercise and Iodine Deficiency

Exercise stimulates metabolism and athletic performance. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in energy utilisation by an athlete. Increased sweating through exercise or hormonal imbalance may deplete the body stores of iodine, and further increase the rate of thyroid dysfunction. If on a restricted diet or low iodine diet typically seen in athletes or menopausal women, iodine deficiency has the potential to further contribute to more excessive sweating.

If thyroid function is underactive, it is typical to experience constant fatigue, low stamina, feeling cold, suffer with dry skin or constipation and eventually feel adrenally fatigued.

In the study by Ifang et al on Electrolyte Loss in Sweat and Iodine Deficiency in a Hot Environment, loss of iodine through profuse sweating may lead to iodine deficiency and loss of electrolytes.

In another study reported by World Health Organisation(WHO) in 2005, athletes who did a 10 week training athletic program, reported a loss of 500 µg of iodine which averages around 70 µg of iodine per day.

The daily intake of iodine is at least 150 µg daily. Iodine deficiency is associated with fatigue, low stamina, low athletic performance, oestrogen dominance and fibrocystic breast disease.

Testing Iodine Levels

Iodine can be measured in a simple DIY urine test. Iodine utilization can be measured in an Iodine loading test. Iodine loading test identifies the rate of excretion of iodine after taking a specified dose of iodine for testing. If iodine is deficient, the body holds onto iodine and only a small quantity of the mineral is excreted into the urine (giving a low percentage excretion).

Supplementation with Iodine

Iodine supplementation is available in the form of Lugols Iodine, saturated potassium iodide solution (SS KI), iodine capsules or drops.

Please consult with your health care provider to establish the appropriate dose of iodine for supplementation. Supplementing with iodine without appropriate guidance can be equally damaging and may contribute to thyrotoxicosis.

A great resource on Iodine is available in Dr David Brownstein’s book on “Iodiniodine.htme: why you need it, why you can’t live without it”


WHO, UNICEF, ICCIDD. Assessment of iodine deficiency disorders and monitoring their elimination; a guide for programme managers, 3rd ed. WHO Publications: Geneva, 2007.

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