Exploring Iodine & The “Need” for Iodized Salt

saltHave you heard that iodized salt is the only way to meet your needs for dietary iodine?  Do you feel confused about your need for iodine and wonder how salt impacts your health?  Read on to learn about the benefits of iodine and how to optimize it naturally in the diet to boost energy and vitality.

Iodine

Iodine is an important mineral found in every body cell and used for normal growth, development, metabolism, immune and thyroid function and potentially cancer prevention.1 Iodine is found in the Earth’s crust, and quantities vary in the water and soil of different regions.  Being far from the ocean, soil from the central regions of the US is particularly deficient in iodine, yet iodine content even in coastal regions varies.

A common symptom of severe iodine deficiency is enlargement of the thyroid gland, otherwise known as a goiter, which looks like a distended puffy neck.  Other symptoms can include low energy, cold extremities, infertility and abnormal metabolism leading to weight gain.  Iodine is found in seaweed, fish, shellfish and dairy products, so why has iodized salt been touted as the only way to meet dietary iodine needs?

Iodized Salt

In order to combat goiter, studies conducted in Michigan and Ohio experimented with iodizing salt in 1924, which at the time reduced goiter by 70%.  The entire US quickly followed and today the World Health Organization recommends iodized salt to combat goiter and mental retardation worldwide.  Iodized salt seems to have been effective for preventing goiter, but iodized salt is NOT a whole food and does not provide the most useful form of iodine.  Sodium chloride (NaCl) is bleached and iodine and anti-caking agents are added while naturally occurring trace minerals present in sea salt are removed.

While iodized salt may have helped combat goiter, iodine is not in a stable form in salt.  When exposed to air and moisture, it can “evaporate” over time.  So what’s on the label is often not what the consumer ends up getting, if the salt sits around in the cupboard for over a month.  Plus, the iodine content added to salt was not established to optimize health or meet the needs of other body tissues.1  At Green Lake Nutrition, we help determine the best way to optimize your dietary iodine and assess whether or not supplementation is also needed.  Contact us to schedule an appointment at (206) 729-5111.

 

Resources:

  1. Brownstein D. Iodine why you need it why you can’t live without it. 4 ed. West Bloomfield, MI: Medical Alternative Press; 2009.
  2. Oregon State University. Iodine. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Database.  http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/iodine/. Accessed Dec 05, 2013.

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