What is iodine?
Iodine is an essential trace element needed for brain development and the prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD), such as goitre. Goitre results from a low amount of thyroxine (T4) (thyroid hormone) in the blood due to low dietary intake of iodine, which consequently gives rise to high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates biochemical processes causing the thyroid gland to swell which gives rise to goitre. An adequate amount of iodine is essential for the critical stages of foetal life and early childhood to prevent the development of brain damage and mental retardation.
IDD is one of the most preventable diseases in the world. The Nutrition Department, MRI, conducted a National Iodine Survey to assess the current iodine status in Sri Lanka, 2010. The study found a mild degree of goitre prevalence in North Western, Central and Southern Provinces. The median urinary iodine levels of school children were within 100-200mg/L in majority of the provinces and 113mg/L in pregnant women. Urine iodine levels are directly proportional to ones dietary iodine intake. The iodine content of salt, at a household level, varied between 1.1-137.5ppm. An alarming finding showed only 68.2% of households consuming effectively iodised salt, which has not reached the required level of >90%.
What can you do?
You can increase your iodine intake but introducing iodine rich food in you diet, such as; yoghurt, cow’s milk, cheeses and other dairy products, eggs, fish and shellfish.You can also help make sure the salt used in your household is fortified with iodine. According to the regulations, there should be between 15-30ppm of iodine in an average packet of salt, so make sure to read the packaging carefully. If you include iodine rich food in your habitual diet, whilst using a sufficient amount of iodised salt in your cooking and ensuring the salt you buy is adequately iodised, you and your family will be able to live a healthy and worry free of IDD lifestyle.