Iodine is an essential trace element in our food. Among other things, it supports the action of the thyroid hormones and has a positive impact on cell formation. How to make sure you get your daily dose of iodine? By watching what you eat and minding your salt intake.
What is iodine?
The oligo-element or trace element is crucial to maintain good health. Iodine plays an important part in the action of the thyroid hormones, cell metabolism and organ growth. In babies, the lack of iodine can cause physical and mental development retardation. In adults too, it has potentially far-reaching consequences. A lack of iodine may cause the thyroid gland to distend (hypertrophy), causing decelerated cell action. The effects? Fatigue and listlessness are typical symptoms. But there is more than that. If left untreated, hypertrophy of the thyroid gland may even cause brain damage. So it is well worth minding your intake of iodine.
The World Health Organisation rates our everyday iodine need as:
- Children up to age 5: 90 micrograms
- Children > 12 years of age and adults: 150 micrograms
- Pregnant women: 250 micrograms
Does our food contain iodine?
Iodine mainly occurs in products sourced from the sea: fish, shellfish and crustaceans, algae and seaweeds. As we do not eat fish every day of the week, a slight lack of iodine is frequently seen to exist. This is why iodine is added to kitchen salt, such as in MARSEL® 0-1, fine sea salt, and other products from the food industry, such as bread. You will recognise kitchen salt with added iodine by the name ‘jozo’. The variant without iodine is called ‘nezo’.
Why use iodised salt?
Iodine salt is recommended by the High Health Council to improve the intake of iodine among the Belgian population. It is easy to use in the preparation of meals or in bread: simply replace your traditional kitchen salt by iodised salt. There is no difference in taste, but it does allow you to get enough iodine to avoid health problems. Do observe the general recommended intake: a maximum 6 grams of salt a day is more than enough.