Iodine is an essential element of our food and its absence can lead to serious consequences.
Goitre, thyroid dysfunction and learning disabilities are some of the damage caused by lack of iodine in the daily diet.
A balanced diet with two servings of fish once a week, milk every day, and a piece of cheese, provides only 50% of the daily requirement of iodine (90 mcg in children up to 6 years, 120 mcg at school age (7 -12 years) and 150 mcg in adults). During pregnancy and lactation the requirement increases to 250-300 mcg per day for a proper maternal and foetal thyroid function, indispensable for the development of the central nervous system of the foetus.
It is necessary for the daily intake of iodine to be integrated with our diet. To dispel a myth, neither sea salt, nor pink Himalayan salt – or even the black variety or the one from Hawaii –contain iodine. The only salt that contains iodine is the iodized kind, i.e. salt to which is added iodine, a naturally-occurring mineral. Anyone can use iodized salt: it is not a drug but a natural complement to the diet.
Iodine is absorbed through the skin and into the gastro-intestinal tract and is transported, via the bloodstream, to the thyroid which retains approximately 30% of it. The remainder is absorbed by the kidneys and excreted, mainly in the urine.
A small part is eliminated along with sweat, tears, saliva and bile.
All types of marine fauna and vegetation absorb iodine from seawater and are excellent sources of this mineral. Particularly good sources are deep-water fish, kelp, garlic, beans, sesame seeds, soy beans, spinach, chard, zucchini and white turnip. To a lesser extent iodine is found in eggs, dairy products, cereals and meat. By law in Italy, iodized salt should be available in all food stores.