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Why is Iodine Added to Salt? How Much Iodine is in Salt?

Posted by Martin Larsson on

It's not hard to find iodized sea salt on the shelf at your local grocery store. Adding iodine to sea salt is common practice with big salt brands like Morton and Hain. But why is iodine added to salt? How much iodine is in salt?

Why Is Iodine Good for You?

You might be wondering why we need iodine in the first place. Why is iodine good for you? Iodine deficiency is one of the biggest issues in the United States mostly because people don't know why we need iodine and aren't eat many iodine rich foods in their daily diets. Low iodine levels can cause problems in the thyroid gland that lead to bad health risks, including weight gain, depression, mental retardation, and chronic fatigue. Health experts have linked iodine deficiency and breast cancer in women.

Why is Iodine Added to Salt?

Why is iodine in salt now? Trying to get enough iodine in our daily diets has been an ongoing struggle for Americans for more than a century. Goiters, one of the most recognizable symptoms of an iodine deficiency, started to pop up in large numbers in the Midwest around the time of World War I, causing the Great Lakes region to earn the nickname of the "Goiter Belt." Realizing that iodine deficiency was becoming a big problem in the US, food manufacturers started adding iodine to as many food staples as possible, including bread, table salt and even animal feed, causing the amount of iodine in milk to also increase.

Iodine Added to Bread and Iodized Salt

With so much iodine being added to foods Americans eat on a daily basis, iodine deficiency stopped being a big health risk for Americans for a while. Bread used to be a good source of daily iodine a few decades ago, but in recent years iodine in bread has been replaced by bromide, a chemical that makes bread puffier but also may block the activity of iodine in our bodies. With no more iodine in our bread, iodized table salt is now one of the main sources of iodine in our daily diets and iodine deficiency is a big health danger to Americans once again.

How Much Iodine is in Table Salt? How Much Iodine Should I Eat Daily?

How much iodine does salt contain, anyway? How much should we eat every day? Doctors recommend that we eat 150 micrograms of iodine daily. If you eat one teaspoon of iodized table salt daily, you will eat your recommended amount. Remember, not all salt contains iodine. You can't count the salt added to potato chips or French fries as sources of iodine.

Is Iodized Salt Good for You?

While iodized salt is a good source of iodine, it is not a good source of natural iodine. The iodine chemically added to iodized salt is not the same as the iodine found in naturally iodine rich foods like kelp, seaweed and seafood in general. Some health experts even believe that the human body has problems processing and using the iodine added to table salt. Additionally, the amount of iodine in table salt is much lower than it is in foods that naturally contain iodine.

Now you know why iodine is added to salt and how much iodine you need to add to your daily diet. Getting iodine from iodized salt is better than getting no iodine, but try to eat iodine rich foods whenever you can. If you feel like you're not getting enough in your diet, consider adding a non radioactive inorganic iodine supplement to your daily diet.


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