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Iodine Deficiency
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It seems like problems that had been licked years ago are returning. Take iodine deficiency. In the nineteenth century goiter – an enlarged thyroid caused by insufficient iodine – was common in the United States and Canada. Iodizing table salt solved this condition, and goiter disappeared.

Over the last forty years dietary intake of iodine has plunged nearly 50 percent in the United States. In part this is due to a change in the way wheat is processed. Up to one-quarter of dietary iodine used to come from bread. Bromides have replaced iodides in milling recently. Bromides do not just substitute for iodides in flour. Bromides can block iodine absorption by the body.

So do chlorides and fluorides. This means chlorinated or fluoridated water may reduce the dietary iodine you consume.

Another large chunk of dietary iodine comes from salt, but most salt used in processed food is not iodized. Many Americans have cut back on iodized table salt for health reasons, eliminating still more iodine.

Goiter is only one problem that can result from iodine deficiency. A shortage of iodine can lead to fatigue, weight gain, muscle cramps, and pain. It can also cause breast cysts. Iodine shortages during pregnancy can harm fetal brain development, leading to mental retardation or autism.

Very Little Needed

The human body needs very little iodine for good health. An adult needs only 100 to 200 micrograms a day. But iodine can be toxic. Too much is as bad as too little. Iodine supplements, especially for children, are risky, especially if they are taken without a doctor’s supervision.

Fortunately, you can get all of the iodine you need in your daily diet, by eating foods rich in dietary iodine. Sea vegetables, such as kelp are a good source of iodine. So are oceangoing fish, especially cod, sea bass, halibut, and perch. Most cattle feed is supplemented with iodine, so dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are another good source of iodine. Cranberries and strawberries are also good sources of dietary iodine, as are potatoes.

Fruits and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil also have sufficient iodine to keep you healthy, but many places in the middle of North America have iodine-deficient soils. (That was one reason iodine deficiencies were common in nineteenth century America.) If you live in one of those areas and eat only local produce, you run the risk of coming up short on iodine.

You have to get iodine regularly, because your body does not store iodine. However it is difficult to overdose on iodine though your daily food. With such a wide selection of dietary sources of iodine, you can get your daily allowance whether you are a carnivore, an omnivore or a vegan.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.



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