Iodized salt is beneficial to your health if taken in moderation. Salt is generally fortified with iodine, which is why it’s called iodized salt. Including iodized salt in your diet can aid in normal thyroid function.
Iodine, an essential trace mineral found in eggs, grains, seafood and dairy products, has a recommended daily intake for adults of about 150 mg (one-half to three-fourths of a teaspoon of table salt). Since most Americans consume sufficient levels of iodine through their diets, unless they are on a restricted diet plan or have absorption issues in the intestines, only nursing and pregnant women are advised to take a daily iodine supplement as part of prenatal vitamins.
However, an excessive iodine intake may be dangerous, which can produce some of the same symptoms as iodine deficiency, such as a goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland). Thyroid gland inflammation and thyroid cancer can also result from excessive iodine consumption.
A high amount of iodine can show symptoms such as:
- Burning sensation in the mouth, throat and stomach
- Weak pulse
It is uncommon to develop the symptoms of iodine toxicity if the recommended table salt intake is used.
Why is iodine essential?
The thyroid gland takes up dietary iodine for the synthesis of the thyroid hormone, which is one of the essential hormones of the body that regulates the rate of metabolism, affects body weight and controls heart rate and many other bodily functions. Thyroid hormones are required for normal bone and brain development during pregnancy and childhood.
The functions of the thyroid hormone in different age groups may vary slightly.
- The thyroid hormone is required for the normal brain and nervous system development during fetal development, infancy and childhood.
- If the iodine intake is less, low levels of thyroid hormones are produced, which leads to mental retardation, dwarfism, hearing loss and other problems during development.
- The thyroid hormone regulates metabolism later in life.
- Adults who do not get enough iodine can get a goiter (swelling of the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the neck).
- A low thyroid hormone output (hypothyroidism) can cause a sluggish metabolism, poor thinking skills, infertility, thyroid cancer, sensitivity to cold, fatigue and other problems.
According to the federal government's dietary guidelines for Americans, people should acquire most of their nutrients through food and beverages, since vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber found in foods are beneficial to their health. When a person’s nutritional needs for one or more nutrients cannot be met, fortified meals and dietary supplements can help.
What are the differences between sea salt and table salt?
Though both sea and table salt have the same nutritional value, they differ in taste, texture and the way they are processed.
- Sea salt is made by evaporating ocean water or water from saltwater lakes, with little to no processing.
- Depending on the water source, certain trace minerals and metals are left behind.
- The minerals give sea salt its flavor and color, and it comes in a variety of coarseness levels.
- Most table salt is mined from subsurface salt sources.
- Table salt is more intensively processed to remove minerals, and it frequently contains a clump-preventative ingredient.
- Iodine, an essential ingredient that aids in thyroid health, is added to most table salt.
Whatever the type, salt contains sodium and chloride, which are recommended to consume in moderation. Salt is used regularly in cooking to improve the taste and flavor and is used in preserving food. Besides these uses, sodium and other trace minerals and elements in salt are beneficial to the human body.
However, the American dietary guidelines recommend reducing sodium intake to fewer than 2,300 mg per day. With increased sodium levels, many issues, such as high blood pressure, may arise in the body.
What are the side effects of iodized salt?
Iodine is a trace element that can be found naturally in some foods, added to others or purchased as a dietary supplement.
If taken in excess, iodine-containing salt may cause side effects that include:
- Thyroid suppression
- Acne at high doses
- Excess fluid in the lungs
- Swelling of the skin
- Change in taste (metallic taste)
- Excess fluid in the lungs
- Joint pain
- Anaphylactic reactions
Iodine may interfere with certain medications. So, always check with your doctor to know how much salt or iodine is recommended if you’re on medications, especially those that are related to hormones.
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Iodine Global Network. Iodized Salt or Sea Salt: Which Is Better for You? https://www.ign.org/blog-salt-myths-2019.htm
Harvard Health Publishing. Cut Salt – It Won’t Affect Your Iodine Intake. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/cut-salt-it-wont-affect-your-iodine-intake
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