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Iodine is not salt

Posted May 12 2009 3:21pm
I've noticed a point of confusion recently, something I hadn't noticed in my patients before: Because of the public health advice from the FDA, American Heart Association, and Surgeon General's office to reduce sodium/salt intake, people have thought this meant reducing iodine, too.

I believe that people have drawn an equation in their minds:


Sodium = iodine


Of course, they are two entirely unrelated things.

Recall that the only reason iodine is added to many (not all) salt products is because it was a public health solution to solve the substantial nationwide iodine deficiency prevalent during the 20th century. But it was a solution conceived in 1924, when the FDA thought this was the best way to get iodine into Americans. And it worked.

Unfortunately, sodium does indeed present adverse effects in some people. As a result, "get your iodine from salt" has evolved into "reduce your sodium intake." Everyone forgot about the iodine: They forgot about the large disfiguring goiters, the poor school performance in iodine-deficient schoolchildren, the mentally-impaired offspring of iodine-deficient mothers.

So don't confuse sodium with iodine. You may need less of the former, but more of the latter.

For more on this, see " Help keep your family goiter free."
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