Iodized salt eliminated goiter, worldwide. The Iodine Story Begins with iodized salt

The Iodine Story Begins With Iodized Salt

Worldwide, whether or not a person's diet contains a healthy amount of iodine depends largely upon the public health salt iodization program of their respective country of residence. Some countries have no program at all; others have let their program grow weak, while still other countries have implemented an overly zealous iodization program.

Iodized salt eliminated goiter, worldwide.

Iodized Salt

In 2011, a research study studied 148 different countries. Forty-seven countries were found to have excess iodine consumption concerns versus only 32 (10 in Africa, 11 in Europe, 4 in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the remanding 7 in other geographical locations) which were found deficient. In other words, more of these countries suffer from excess iodine than an iodine deficiency. This left 69 countries with an acceptable level of iodine consumption.[Andersson 2012] However, in the United States and Australia their programs have become complacent, with their mean iodine intakes having noticeably fallen over the years.[Zimmermann 2009]

The human body is estimated to contain between 25 and 50 mg of iodine.[Venturi 2009] Your thyroid glands contain the highest concentration of iodine in your body. Iodine is, also, absorbed and used in large amounts by breast, salivary gland, pancreas, skin, stomach, brain, and thymus tissue, as well as in cerebral spinal fluid.


Iodine as an Atom

Iodine is definitely a weird atom. It has an atomic weight of 53, which is technically a solid at room temperature. But, for all practical purposes people should view it as a gas. In other words, solid iodine readily sublimates into a gas at room temperature.

"Iodine sublimes rather than going through melting and boiling because its molecules have a tendency of favouring the gaseous state because they are not held together by strong intermolecular forces. The weak forces are easily broken by small temperature elevations, and this makes the molecules to sublime." -- Ask

Iodine will also oxidize with oxygen in the air. Whether you call it volatization, or sublimation, the so-called solid iodine will seemingly float off from water, iodized salt, as well as from food into the sky, very easily at room temperature. In short, iodine in many ways behaves more like a gas than a solid.


Dietary Sources of Iodine

Foods that are naturally rich in iodine.

Earth's oceans have the highest concentration of iodine. Soil receives iodine from wind volatilization. Accordingly, soil located near coastal areas have higher concentrations of iodine, while high mountainous areas have the least.[Patrick 2008]

The best dietary sources of iodine are seaweed and seafood. A serving of cod could give you 750 mcg, while a single serving of shrimp, lobster, oysters, or claims could easily contain 500 mcg of iodine. Here are some plant-based foods with a relatively high iodine content: asparagus, bananas, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, dried prunes, lettuce, mushrooms, navy beans, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and watercress that will give you less than 50 mcg per serving. While you would expect sea salt to contain high amounts it is all lost due to volatilization, nevertheless iodized sea salt is available in the marketplace for purchase. However, a lot of iodine from iodized salt will volatilize during cooking.

However, do not overlook the fact that your diet can also trigger thyroid problems. Foods that are effective against cancer are also toxic to your thyroid glands because they contain goitrogens, which can cause goiters to form. Goitrogens in your diet increases your body's need for iodine. Beware of eating a steady diet of the following foods raw, which can become toxic to the health of your thyroid glands.

"Cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, [soy], and rapeseed [i.e., canola oil], contain glucosinolates; their metabolites compete with iodine for thyroidal uptake. Similarly, cassava, lima beans, linseed [i.e., flaxseed], sorghum, and sweet potato contain cyanogenic glucosides; these may be metabolized to thiocyanates that compete with iodine for thyroidal uptake."[Zimmermann 2009]

Remember that coleslaw is made from raw cabbage. If you must eat goitrogenic food, make sure that they are well cooked.

The Halogen Problem

Iodine is a halogen, or a group of chemically related elements. The other halogens; bromine, chlorine, and fluoride; compete with iodine for storage inside the human body. Some health factions view these competing halogens, as toxins produced by man in the modern era.

The United States Goiter Belt

Before the 1920s goiter was a serious health problem in the United States. The States had a Goiter Belt around the Great Lakes, Appalachian, and Northwestern regions around Washington State. David Murray Cowie, professor of Pediatrics, first introduced iodized salt in America for the prevention of simple goiter back in 1924, which soon resulted in the elimination of the U.S. Goiter Belt.[Markel 1987]

Goiters are simply the most visible sign of iodine deficiency disorders. Goiters are linked to cretinism, mental retardation, and brain fog. In addition, there is an increased risk for certain kinds of cancer in people suffering from goiter.

Should I use iodized salt?

You can find out where your country stands on the latest status of their salt iodization program, by clicking this link.


Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Hypothyroidism is often characterized by cold intolerance, tiredness, course hair or hair loss, memory loss, brain fog, dry skin, weak muscles, weight gain due to a reduced metabolism rate, and even sleep disturbances.[Wikipedia Hypothyroidism] Those deficient should seriously consider supplementing with iodine.

Symptoms of Excess Iodine

Hyperthyroidism is often characterized by intolerance to heat, rapid heartbeat, fine hair or hair loss, nervousness; anxiety and irritability, difficulty sleeping, hand tremors, sweating a lot; all of which are a result of excess release of thyroid hormone which in turn causes every function of the body to speed up.[Wikipedia Hyperthyroidism]

Clearly people who live in a country with too aggressive salt iodization should not supplement with iodine, but they might benefit from selenium supplementation [Triggiani 2009] as well as by cutting back on their use of iodized salt.


In conclusion, the Natural Health Perspective advocates that at the most basic level of health, everyone should work on increasing their dietary sources of iodine, provided that you believe that you might be deficient in iodine, which should at the very least include some form of iodized salt, in order to avoid goiter and any other type of iodine deficiency disorder. Iodized sea salt is widely available.

Merely switching to iodized sea salt would be the easiest way to increase your intake of iodine. Now, you have yet another reason to be routinely eating more seafood. Seafood is a good source of minerals in gerneral.

The romanticism of eating locally grown foods has been shown to not always be such a great idea. If your local geographical area happens to be deficient in particular nutrients, such as iodine, or even has been polluted with industrial toxins then eating exclusively locally grown foods can be a major health problem.

Due to sublimation, using the boiling cooking method results in relatively high losses of iodine content from both iodized salt and food.

Seaweed can be creatively added to your meals, such as hidden in soups, as a type of food seasoning that is used in lieu of salt.

Return to Eating Healthy Whole Foods

The Iodine Story Begins With Iodized Salt Comments:


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