Salt: Don't Ban It Entirely
Salt is bad for blood pressure but good for brain development, researchers say.
Truth About Iodized Salt continued...
Until nearly five years ago, Americans who got dairy, bread, and meat in
their diets got plenty of iodine, he explains. Machines used in production were
cleaned with an iodine disinfecting solution, so some iodine ended up in dairy,
bread, meat products. That ended when companies quit using iodine
Iodized salt is rarely found in canned, frozen, or boxed food, says Maberly.
French fries and other snack foods mostly contain regular salt -- not iodized
In fact, Americans now get one-third less iodine than they once did, he
Both newborns and toddlers are affected by iodine deficiency. A recent study
showed lower IQ scores among children with mild iodine deficiency -- proof that
the problem exists in developed countries, writes researcher Piedad
Santiago-Fernandez, MD, an endocrinologist at the Complejo Hospitalario Carlos
Haya in Malaga, Spain.
It's true, says Michael Karl, MD, an endocrinologist with the University of
Miami School of Medicine. "You can certainly see even subtle changes in
iodine can affect IQ," Karl tells WebMD. "Iodine is critical in the
first years of life, extraordinarily important up to 3 or 5 years of
Children in financially stressed families are likely at highest risk. They
rarely take multivitamins, he tells WebMD. "Iodine deficiency is not an
epidemic yet, but it's serious enough that it should be watched."
Sea salt and most salt substitutes are not iodized. Unless fruits and
vegetables are grown in iodine-rich soil, they will not contain iodine.
Restaurants usually order salt in bulk, and often it's not iodized salt.
However, anything from the sea - such as seaweed (kelp) or fish -- can be a
good source of iodine, says Maberly. A cup of cow's milk contains nearly 100
micrograms of iodine. Some breads contain iodine, but not all.
The normal requirement for iodine, according to World Health Organization
standards: Adults need 150 micrograms a day. Women trying to get pregnant
should increase their intake to 200 to 300 micrograms a day.
"We certainly should make pregnant and lactating women aware of this
deficiency," says Karl. "I don't think most primary care doctors are
aware of it."