There is a high probability that in your kitchen you will find a pack of iodised salt. For many families around the world, salt is a staple food ingredient. Nevertheless, many people still ask themselves questions: what is iodised salt, how is iodised salt, and why doctors recommend using iodised salt.
This article discusses these issues, namely: what is iodised salt, benefits and harms for the body, how iodised salt can affect human health, and whether to use it.
The benefits of iodised salt
The main benefit of iodised salt is that it is a simple and affordable source of iodine, an important mineral.
Iodine is a trace element commonly found in seafood, dairy products, grains, and eggs. In many countries, it is part of table salt to help prevent iodine deficiency.
The human thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid-stimulating hormones, that is, thyroid hormones. They help in tissue repair, regulate metabolism and promote the proper growth and development of the human body.
Thyroid hormones also play a direct role in controlling body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
In addition to its important role in thyroid health, iodine can play a central role in several other aspects of your health. For example, in vitro and animal studies show that they can directly affect the function of the immune system ( 1 , 2 ). Meanwhile, other studies have found that iodine can help treat fibrocystic mastopathy, a condition in which benign seals form in the chest ( 3 , 4 ).
The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which play a role in tissue repair, metabolism, growth and development of the body. Iodine can also affect immune health and helps treat fibrocystic mastopathy.
Many people are at risk for iodine deficiency.
Unfortunately, many people around the world are at increased risk of iodine deficiency. This is considered a public health problem in 118 countries, where, by and large, more than 1.5 billion people are thought to be at risk ( 5 ).
Deficiencies in micronutrients, such as iodine, are increasingly common in certain areas, especially in regions where the soil has low or no iodine levels. It is estimated that about a third of the population in the Middle East is at risk of iodine deficiency ( 6 ). This condition is also commonly found in areas such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and parts of Europe.
In addition, some groups of people are more prone to iodine deficiency. For example, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at a higher risk of deficiency because they require more iodine.
Vegans and vegetarians are also at greater risk. One study examined the nutrition of 81 adults and found that 25% of vegetarians and 80% of vegans had iodine deficiency, compared with 9% of mixed-diet patients ( 7 ).
Iodine deficiency is a serious problem worldwide. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who follow a vegetarian diet, and those who live in certain areas of the world are at greater risk of deficiency.
Iodine deficiency can lead to serious symptoms.
Iodine deficiency can cause a long list of symptoms and ill effects that range from moderately uncomfortable to severe to even dangerous.
Among the most common symptoms is a type of tumor in the neck known as goiter. The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones. However, when iodine is not enough, the thyroid gland is forced to go into over-mode in order to try to compensate and make more hormones. This leads to the fact that thyroid cells multiply and grow rapidly, which leads to the appearance of goiter ( 8 ).
A decrease in thyroid hormone levels can also lead to other adverse effects such as hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and increased sensitivity to cold). Iodine deficiency can also cause serious problems in children and pregnant women. Low iodine levels can cause brain damage and serious mental development problems in children. Moreover, this may also be associated with a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth ( 9 ). That is why in Russia, gynecologists are standardly prescribed to pregnant women and planning a course of “iodomarin” at a dosage of 200 mcg.
Iodine deficiency can worsen thyroid hormone production, leading to symptoms such as swelling in the neck, fatigue, and weight gain. It can also cause problems in children and pregnant women.
Why doctors recommend using iodised salt
In 1917, doctor David Morten began conducting experiments demonstrating that taking iodine supplements was effective in reducing the number of thyroid diseases. Soon after, in 1920, many countries around the world began to enrich sodium chloride with iodine to prevent iodine deficiency.
The introduction of iodised salt was incredibly effective in eliminating iodine deficiency in many parts of the world, including the USSR. Until the 1920s, up to 70% of children in certain areas of the United States had goiter. In contrast, today 90% of the U.S. population has access to iodised salt, and there are no longer such a huge number of people with thyroid diseases ( 10 ).
Half a teaspoon (3 grams) of iodised salt per day is sufficient to meet the daily need for iodine and will benefit your body ( 11 ).
This is why doctors recommend using iodised salt. This is the easiest and most affordable way to prevent iodine deficiency without having to make other important changes to your diet.
In the 1920s, health authorities around the world began adding iodine to sodium chloride to prevent iodine deficiency. Only half a teaspoon (3 grams) of iodised salt can satisfy the daily needs of an adult in this mineral.
How much iodine in salt
Iodization of salt is as follows: from 20 to 40 grams are added per ton of table salt. potassium iodate or iodide. This ratio provides a daily intake of 150 micrograms of iodine per adult.
However, it is worth noting that iodised salt has a certain shelf life, after which iodine from the salt evaporates or breaks down. Especially if iodised salt is stored in a moist place.
Harmful iodised salt
To date, there has not been a single recorded case of the occurrence of negative or harmful effects on the body after the use of iodised salt within the framework of the norm of consumption. Thus, it is safe to say that iodised salt is safe for consumption.
Studies show that iodine intake, even above the recommended daily value, is generally well tolerated. The upper limit of iodine is 1100 μg per day, which is equivalent to almost 4 teaspoons (23 grams) of iodised salt ( 12 ).
The only harm that iodised salt can cause is its excessive use by certain groups of people. High iodine intake can increase the risk of thyroid dysfunction in certain groups of people, including babies, newborns, the elderly, and people with pre-existing thyroid disease. Excessive iodine intake may result from over-nutrition with plant-based iodine-containing foods or nutritional supplements.
However, several studies have reported that iodised salt cannot harm the body, is completely safe and has a minimal risk of adverse side effects for the general population, even at doses nearly seven times the recommended daily intake ( 13 , 14 ) .
Studies show that iodised salt is safe to drink with minimal risk of side effects. A safe upper limit is about 4 teaspoons (23 grams) of iodised salt per day.
Iodine is found in other foods.
Although iodised salt is a convenient and easy way to increase iodine intake, it is not the only source of this substance. It is possible to satisfy the body’s needs for iodine without consuming iodised salt. Other good sources of iodine include seafood, dairy, grains, and eggs.
Here are some examples of iodine rich foods:
Seaweed (seaweed) : 100 gr. contains 300 mcg. (200% of the daily norm)
Cod : 100 gr. contains 74% of the daily norm
Yogurt : 1 cup (245 gr.) contains 50% of the daily norm
Milk : 1 cup (237 ml) contains 37% of the daily norm
Shrimp : 100 gr. contains 32% of the daily norm
Macaroni : 1 cup (200 gr.) in boiled form contains 18% of the daily norm
Eggs : 1 large egg contains 16% of the daily norm
Canned tuna : 100 gr. contains 15% of the daily norm
Dried prunes : 5 prunes contain 9% of the daily norm
It is recommended that adults receive at least 150 mcg of iodine per day. For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, this number reaches 220 and 290 mcg per day, respectively .
By consuming just a few servings of iodine-rich foods every day, you can easily get enough iodine through your diet, with or without iodised salt.
Iodine is also found in seafood, dairy products, grains and eggs. Eating a few servings of iodine-rich foods per day can help you meet your needs, even without iodised salt.
The benefits of iodised salt. conclusions
- If your diet is balanced and includes other sources of iodine, such as seafood or dairy products, then you are likely to get enough iodine in your diet only through food sources.
- However, if you think that you have a higher risk of iodine deficiency, you can consider using iodised salt, the use of which as a source of iodine is undeniable.
- In addition, if you are not getting at least a few servings of iodine-rich foods every day, iodised salt can be a simple solution to make sure that you meet your daily needs.
- Consider using iodised salt in combination with a nutritious, varied diet to make sure you satisfy your needs for iodine and other important nutrients.