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Diet advice for Iodine in 2012.

Cooking / Recipes, General Nutrition, Pregnancy, Womens Health, Autoimmune Diseases, Healthy Eating, Food Industry
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How to avoid a *lump* in the throat. 


I’ve become reacquainted with a humble mineral this week. With a few Pregnant Mums on my books and a worldwide push to avoid Iodine Deficiency, I have been doing a bit of old fashioned nutrition revision.

Why you ask? Well, for most of the time I have worked as a Dietitian,  Iodine has really not been a major deal. Until recently, unless you lived or worked in a developing country, Iodine deficiency was uncommon. This blog post is a bit of summary on where we are at with Iodine these days.

From the early 1900′s, Iodine was added to table salt in developed countries. Following this,  Goiter (one of the most common side effects of Iodine Deficiency) had been pretty much avoided. For more detailed info on Iodine Deficiency, particularly in relation to developing countries you can read up some more here.

More recently, there has been a Public Health push to reduce our salt consumption. With the willy nilly use of the salt shaker over our overindulgent years, we are now at a high risk of developing chronic health conditions like high blood pressure.

We can’t seem to get the balance right. can we?

So Iodine Deficiency is on the rise again and in Australia, the use of Iodised salt is now mandatory for mainstream bread manufacturers. The thinking behind this is, whilst discouraging us from using so much salt in cooking and at the table, we still get more than enough salt from packaged foods that we buy. Therefore, bread one our food staples is one of the best foods to fortify.

How much Iodine do we need?

The amount we need in a day generally differs according to our age:

  • Men and Women need 150 micrograms
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mums need a bit more at 220 and 270 micrograms respectively
  • Children under 8 years need 90 micrograms
  • Children 9-13 years need 120 micrograms
  • Children 14-18 years need the same as adults (150 micrograms)

How much do we get from food?

A bit of background info here. The reason why Iodine supplementation was required in the first place, was because it is commonly found in seafood and plant foods grown in Iodine rich soil areas (usually near sea coasts). So people elsewhere were more likely to develop the dreaded Goiter and other side effects of Iodine Deficiency.

Here are some examples of food that contain significant amounts of Iodine*:

  • Oysters contain approx. 160 micrograms
  • Seaweed (e.g. in a Sushi Roll) approx. 90 micrograms
  • Tinned Pink Salmon approx. 60 micrograms
  • Bread (with iodised salt) approx. 50 micrograms
  • Eggs approx. 45 micrograms
  • Snapper approx. 40 micrograms
  • Bream approx. 30 micrograms
  • Cheddar Cheese approx. 20 micrograms
  • Milk approx. 15-20 micrograms (note only about 1 microgram in soy milk)
  • Yoghurt approx. 15 micrograms
  • Flathead approx. 10 micrograms
  • Tinned Tuna approx. 10 micrograms

* the amount of Iodine shown is in 100g of each of these foods and has been taken from Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Online NUTTAB database 2010.

What about supplements?

Obviously, food should be your first source of Iodine! However, if you think you might struggle to get enough Iodine because you just don’t (or won’t) eat enough of the foods higher in Iodine, you could take a supplement. Most multivitamins supply the daily requirements for Iodine or just under. Just double check the label of the brand you buy.

If you are Pregnant or Breastfeeding, most of the Pregnancy Specific Multivitamins contain Iodine as well.

Ooh and if you still want to use salt and you use sea salt or rock salt, look for one with Iodine added.  (all other standard table salts are usually iodised).

A final note
The Iodine issue is an interesting one
. We had deficiencies, and so we iodised salt. We ate too much salt and so our blood pressure goes up. Now we are fortifying bread. I wonder what the situation will be in 100 years from now?

If you liked this post, share the knowledge!
Diet advice for Iodine in 2012.
Christina Turner
Accredited Nutritionist (AN), Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), Dietitian, Nutritionist