By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
When I was in medical school we learnt about the significance of iodine deficiency, especially for women who are planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant. The concern is that iodine deficiency can predispose the new born baby to severe nervous system problems. Since everyone I know grew up eating table salt, which is iodized, inadequate iodine intake has never been a major an issue until more recently.
In the last few years, sea salt, which is not iodized, has become more widely used and has replaced table salt for cooking in many restaurants and households. These days, even in ready-made or fast foods, iodine-fortified table salt is seldom used in cooking. This is because sea salt has been marketed as more natural and healthier than table salt; however, in reality sea salt and table salt actually have the same amount of sodium chloride; and both are processed salts (except for unrefined organic sea salt of course!). So, why do we love sea salt if it’s chemically almost the same as table salt (apart from not being fortified with iodine)? Sea salt has a coarser texture and a more pleasant taste than table salt. For cooks and chefs, kosher salt (also not iodized) is also a favorite because it’s lighter and less grainy than regular table salt.
Whilst iodine deficiency is still relatively uncommon in the United States, research has shown that average levels of intake have been steadily decreasing over the past few years.
Because sea salt generally lacks high amounts of iodine, I always recommend my clients have their iodine levels checked, especially if they are planning a pregnancy. Furthermore, because most of us are consuming sea salt, I recommend considering supplemental iodine, which can be found in some multivitamins.
Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
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