Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Salt, Iodine and a Nation's Smarts

In the United States, we take iodized salt for granted. But had you ever wondered why there's iodine in your salt? For starters, "iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation," reported the New York Times in a feature on the subject.

Iodine deficiencies are also suspected of causing "disabling" goiters, cretinism, dwarfism and lowering I.Q. According to the Times, "Even moderate deficiency, especially in pregnant women and infants, lowers intelligence by 10 to 15 I.Q. points, shaving incalculable potential off a nation’s development."

Despite the know dangers, 2 billion people around the globe are iodine deficient. But it's not because of cost.

"Putting iodine in salt, public health experts say, may be the simplest and most cost-effective health measure in the world. Each ton of salt needs about two ounces of potassium iodate, which costs about $1.15," reported the Times.

Efforts to iodize the world's salt have show good results. For example, between 1999 and 2006, the percentage of households using iodized salt in Kazakhstan jumped from 24 to 94 percent. Because of the change, "the United Nations is expected to certify [Kazakhstan] officially free of iodine deficiency disorders."

Globally, households using iodized salt has more than doubled from 25 to 66 percent since 1990.

Pound360 Archive

About Me

My photo
I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.