It is a known fact that eating too much salt raises blood pressure, however consuming too little salt is bad for health too. Specifically, we need to consume enough iodized salt. An adult needs to consume 150 micrograms of iodine a day and pregnant women need to consume from 200 to 300 micrograms a day.
Iodine is an essential mineral for the production of thyroid hormones, which is especially critical to an infant and child’s (up to five years old) brain development. According to Webmd.com, pregnant women also need iodine to ensure that the fetus does not develop cretinism, an irreversible mental and physical retardation. Iodine deficiency in adults can lead to goiters, slowed metabolism, weight gain, hypothyroidism symptoms (fatigue and intolerance to colds), and neurological, gastrointestinal and skin abnormalities.
In 1924, iodine was introduced to table salt in the United States to eliminate goiter, which was common in the northern states and parts of the Pacific Northwest. However, only 70% of table salt is iodine-fortified. Americans also used to get iodine in their dairy products, breads and meat. Food production machines used to be cleaned with iodine disinfectant so some iodine made it into the food.
Although iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S., the average American diet has inadequate iodine due to the fact that Americans are eating out more often and eating processed food. Iodized salt is rarely found in frozen, canned and boxed food, and restaurants tend to use bulk salt that is not iodized. Sea salt and salt substitutes tend to contain either trace iodine or none at all.
Iodine-rich food includes seaweed, saltwater fish, seafood, other sea vegetables, and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. Dairy products also contain iodine if the animals graze on plants grown in iodine-rich soil. People who eat a balanced, healthy and varied diet would be getting enough iodine in their diet.