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February 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Iodine is an essential nutrient.  A lack of iodine will have major effects on our health including increasing the risk of hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency results in neurodevelopmental delay, and a few years ago a randomised controlled trial in New Zealand showed that children supplemented with iodine had improved results in some cognitive tests. The ICCIDD is concerned that iodine deficiency causes IQ impairment in children - reduced intellectual function and motor skills; and may impair child growth.

A study published in 2011 found that a large number of teenage girls in the UK were iodine deficient and we know that in the UK the iodine intake of teenage girls has dropped since 1997. This is important because only the mother supplies iodine to the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy and the fetus’s thyroid develops at 16-18 weeks. Data suggests that the UK lies between Angola and Mozambique in the list of top ten countries with the greatest number of school age children with insufficient iodine intake.

A third of the iodine in our diet comes from dairy products in the UK.  It is a good source because cows are fed iodine.  Fish is another good source of iodine but we do not eat a lot of fish in the UK. In 2005 WHO recommended that pregnant and lactating women should have 250µg/day and children under 2 should have 90µg/day. The recommended intake for adults is 100µg/day.  At present less than 5% of salt available for domestic consumption in the UK is iodised, although it can be obtained in most supermarkets.


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