Take it with a grain of ‘iodized’ salt

Frtizie Rodriguez

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The iodine status of pregnant and lactating women is of public health concern


MANILA, Philippines – Most people use salt in their daily meals, but not everyone is aware of the importance of iodine.

Iodine plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the thyroid and in the growth and development of the brain.

Iodine deficiency is a leading cause of preventable brain damage and reduced IQ among children worldwide.

Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) during pregnancy may result in stillbirth, miscarriage, and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that children born to iodine-deficient mothers may have difficulties in school and can suffer from physical and mental retardation manifesting in goiter, speech defects, and deafness. Some of these children may appear normal, but may have actually lost 10-15 IQ points.

Universal Salt Iodization, the fortification of iodine in all salt, was launched in 1993 to combat IDD. This was made possible through the joint efforts of UNICEF, WHO, salt producers, governments, the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), the Micronutrient Initiative, the World Bank, Kiwanis International, and advocates from around the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “salt was chosen because it is widely available and consumed in regular amounts throughout the year, and because the cost of iodizing it is extremely low – only about US$0.05 per person per year.”

Aside from using iodized salt, we also need to consume iodine-rich foods such as:

  • Fish like cod and tuna, seaweed, shrimp
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Vegetables and fruits like potatoes and strawberries

Iodized salt in the Philippines

In 1995, ASIN law or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (RA 8172) was implemented. It aims to eliminate micronutrient malnutrition in the country, especially IDD.

The Department of Health (DOH) then promoted the use of iodized salt and endorsed “FIDEL Iodized Salt,” the country’s first locally produced iodized salt. FIDEL produces both refined and coarse iodized salt.

The World Bank reported that as of 2008, the consumption of iodized salt among households in the Philippines is at 81%. This is a big leap from the 56.4% record in 2002.

In the 7th National Nutrition Survey in 2008, it was reported that the iodine status of children and adults is optimal. However, the iodine status of pregnant and lactating women is of public health concern.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) included the use of iodized salt in the 2012 Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos.

  1. Eat a variety of foods every day to get the nutrients needed by the body.
  2. Breastfeed infants exclusively from birth up to 6 months, then give appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond for optimum growth and development.
  3. Attain normal body weight through proper diet and moderate physical activity to maintain good health and prevent obesity.
  4. Consume fish, lean meat, poultry, egg, dried beans or nuts daily for growth and repair of body tissues.
  5. Eat more vegetables and fruits every day to get the essential vitamins, minerals and fiber for regulation of body processes.
  6. Limit intake of salty, fried, fatty and sugar-rich foods to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
  7. Consume milk, milk products, and other calcium-rich foods, such as small fish and shellfish, every day for healthy bones and teeth.
  8. Use iodized salt to prevent Iodine Deficiency Disorders.
  9. Consume safe foods and water to prevent diarrhea and other food- and water-borne diseases.
  10. Be physically active, make healthy food choices, manage stress, avoid alcoholic beverages and do not smoke to help prevent lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases.

There is a misconception that iodized salt is more expensive than ordinary rock salt; however, the price difference is very minimal. Above all, the health benefits your family gets will be worth the extra penny. – Rappler.com

Salt image from Shutterstock 

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