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Jan 2, 2008 07:27 AM

Kosher Salt-Iodine Deficient?

I use kosher salt for everything. Should I be worried about not getting enough iodine in my diet??? Happy New Year to all...

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  1. I hope someone knowledgeable answers you, because I use sea salt w/o iodine, and don't eat seafood very often, actually very rarely. I wonder what other foods have iodine in them?

    1. I think that you would get enough iodine from any products containing salt that you would eat on a daily basis.

      1. I always use kosher salt when I need to season by 'hand' (grabbing a nice pinch from the little bowl I keep), but when I'm not doing that, or seasoning a nice piece of meat/fish, when I want the bigger crystals, I just go with the Morton's. Once thing to be careful of if exclusively using kosher, is that it takes up more volume that ordinary table salt. So, if you're baking and the recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of table salt, you need 1 full tsp of kosher. And I'm sure kosher isn't that much more expensive, but if I'm putting a TBS or so of salt in my pasta water I use table salt. I suspect I'm getting my ration of iodine that way...

        1 Reply
        1. re: bnemes3343

          The substitution ratio of table to kosher salt depends on the brand of kosher salt you are using. Diamond Kosher is about 1:2 but Morton's Kosher is more like 1: 1/12.

          Americans are consuming a lot less iodine than they did even 20 years ago and health officials are concerned by this. Processed and fast foods have a lot of salt in them, but according to this article: most of it is NOT iodized salt.

          The article also points out that smoking prevents the body from absorbing iodine, so that smokers are much more at risk for goiter and other conditions related to lack of iodine in the diet.

        2. Unless you live in a Third World country, or you do not eat meat, vegetables, fish(highly unlikely, as you are still alive) is VERY unlikely you are deficient in iodine in your diet, as it's present in all of the above. It's in the soil, and particularly the ocean. Though "sea salt" is not a significant source of iodine, all seafood products are generally rich in the substance. Since(assumedly) you do eat vegetables, you are probably getting all the iodine your body needs. Additionally, since "most" animals bred for commercial consumption eat grass, grains, or other veggie products, again, you are ingesting iodine. I use primarily sea salt, and even when buying the "regular table salt", I purposely buy "un-iodized" as the addition is simply not needed in a normal healthy diet.

          18 Replies
          1. re: Deepster

            actually, vegetables aren't a reliable dietary source of iodine. the richest sources are seaweed and seafood, followed by animal foods [meat, eggs & dairy]. the only people in developed countries who really need to worry about iodine deficiency are strict vegetarians who don't eat packaged foods or use iodized salt, and people who have higher iodine requirements - particularly pregnant or breast-feeding women...iodine is essential for proper fetal development and brain growth. deficiency can also reduce fertility, and increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. anyone with thyroid disease should also watch their iodine intake. insufficient iodine leads to compromised thyroid function, resulting in hyopthyroidism or goiter, and excessive levels of iodine can cause hyperthyroidism [which is why you should NEVER take iodine supplements unless prescribed and monitored by a doctor].

            i guess that was a very verbose way of saying that as long as you eat foods of animal origin a few times per week, your iodine intake is probably sufficient.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I agree with you 100%, you obviously do with me....with one exception. WHERE do you think those animals GET that iodine? Vegetables are MOST ASSUREDLY a reliable source of iodine PROVIDED you eat a variety of vegetables, and eat other foods as well. Animals do not produce iodine on their own.....they get it from the foods they eat, and thus, it's passed on to the consumer. Vegetarians have their own issues. In addition, anyone taking a regular one-a-day vitamin supplement is in all likelihood getting as much iodine in their diet as would ever be required.

              1. re: Deepster

                YEs, that's because the iodine comes from soil.

                1. re: Deepster

                  i knew this particular point was going to inspire a debate :)

                  of course the animals get the iodine from the food they eat...but that's because the farmers who raise the animals can control the iodine levels by ensuring that they eat iodine-enriched feed and/or grains and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. however, when it comes to the vegetables we humans eat directly, there's no telling how much iodine is in the soil in which they were grown [unless we grow them ourselves], as is the case with many micronutrients, depending on how long & far the vegetables have traveled from the soil to our plates, the iodine content may very well have decreased appreciably.

                  1. re: Deepster

                    Saying that animals can get their nutrients from plants therefore humans can also get their nutrients from plants completely ignores the fact that humans and animals have different digestive systems. Humans can get calcium from cow's milk, and the cow gets the calcium from grass, but that doesn't mean humans can get a significant amount of calcium from eating grass. Cows have four stomachs that allow them to extract nutrients from grass that humans can't. In fact, humans would starve pretty quickly trying to eat what cows eat, but they certainly wouldn't starve eating cows (although they would eventually end up with some vitamin deficiencies).

                    I don't know specifically what the situation is vis a vis iodine, but the "where do you think the animals get it from" argument is ... just plain silly. I do know that the iodine content of soil varies, with soils that contain ocean sediments having more iodine than ones that don't. Iodine is put into salt for a reason: because iodine deficiency used to be a real health issue, particularly in more inland parts of the US.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      You are mixing apples and oranges....just because humans can not digest grass like cows that does not mean they can not get the nutrients from OTHER plants. Besides all the salt kosher or not will have iodine added to it...

                      1. re: Pollo

                        "Besides all the salt kosher or not will have iodine added to it..."

                        sorry, but that's completely inaccurate. there are many, many types and brands of salt on the market that aren't iodized.

                        1. re: Pollo

                          What I said was that the argument that because animals get a nutrient from a plant humans can get the nutrient from a plant is a fallacy. Animals can get nutrients from plants and humans can get nutrients from plants, but you can't connect the two.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            No, it's not a fallacy. Both humans and animals (save for carnivores) can obtain the nutrients from plants. Some animals are able to utilize certain plants to a higher degree and others are not and same goes for humans but both can get the nutrients if they eat the "right" stuff.....

                            1. re: Pollo

                              The point is, it's not the same "right stuff" -- therefore, there's no connection. Just because the animal is getting the "right stuff" is no reason to believe that a human can get the right stuff. What if the "right stuff" for the human doesn't grow in the right area? What if the "right stuff" for the human isn't available at all? Thus, to simply state that if animals can get it, humans can get it, is just plain wrong. Herbivores and omnivores are just too different to draw any kind of connections between the bioavailability of nutritients in their diets.

                              To take your analogy futher, cows get their nutrients -- including protein and carbohydrates -- from plants. As you asked, where do you think the plants get their nutrients from? From water, sunshine and dirt. I guess humans can get all their nutrition needs from those, too, right?

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I have no idea what point you are trying to make but you are just all over the map...mixing apples, oranges, nuts....this is a very simple statement that I made...think about it...

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      "actually, vegetables aren't a reliable dietary source of iodine"

                      I agree. I had read that vegetables that are grown in iodine rich soil are a good source, but how could you tell that? I was surprised that iodine is in dairy products, and I eat cheese, eggs, and other dairy, so I'm sure I'm fine.

                      1. re: danhole

                        The soil content of micronutrients is not directly correlated to plant uptake and available forms for humans: although soil iodine levels are key; and most peoplle in the US therefore don't need supplements.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                          This discussion begs the question, what was going on in the old days when they started adding iodine to salt? There were iodine deficiencies then. What is different about our diets now that it's not such a big problem?

                          1. re: johnb

                            john, you actually answered your own question...the iodization of table salt WAS the solution...and the reason it's no longer a problem.

                            back in the 1920's, many americans - particularly in the midwestern states - developed goiters due to iodine deficiency. adding iodine to salt was a simple and economical solution, and since we use so much of it, the assumption was that it would be the most efficient/effective way to ensure that people got enough iodine.

                            obviously it worked :)

                            1. re: johnb

                              Well, apparently public health officials are concerned that it is becoming a problem again (do a google search and there's lots of info about the fact that maternal iodine levels seem to be falling, which can lead to an increase of certain kinds of developmental defects and other problems).

                              But I think one answer is the globalization of the food supply. A hundred years ago, most of the food people ate -- especially in rural areas -- was produced in a fairly small area around them. If that area was low in iodine, then the available food was low in iodine. But now people eat food produced in a wide number of places, so the chances that all of your food comes from an iodine deficient region is very low.

                              1. re: johnb

                                johnb, sorry, most North American soils are relatively rich in iodine such that people there do, through their varied diets, get enough without supplements. My point was that there isn't a 1:1 relationship between soil iodine content and plant iodine. Plants, even of the same species, vary in their uptake. There are, however, places in the US where soils are weathered and leached enough such that, without dietary iodine coming from elsewhere, people were deficient.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Much of the Midwestern United States has soils with low iodine content. Goiter was common prior to the introduction of iodized salt. Back then most produce was more or less locally produced and ocean fish were not a major part of the diet. For at least half a century livestock producers often have used trace-mineralized salt, which includes iodine, or iodized salt in their rations.

                                  Today it would probably take years of a rigorously locavore vegetarian diet to get iodine deficiency.

                      2. Thanks for all the great info. I do eat a lot of eggs, beef, chicken and fresh vegetables, that's the bulk of my diet.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: scuzzo

                          then no need to worry :) in fact, if you don't eat a lot of processed foods, you can also rest assured that your sodium intake is probably at a very healthy level, and much lower than that of the majority of americans.