What Is Iodized Salt And Why Is It Important To Access It?

Just like any other element required by the body, iodine is an essential element necessary for growth and development. The thyroid glands located in the neck area need iodine to produce thyroid hormones. These hormones are vital for the body because it regulates metabolism, cell functioning and sleep regulation. Iodine also helps remove toxic metals from the body by antagonizing halogens. Iodine acts as an antibiotic that helps the body fight infections mainly by improving thyroid activity. Iodine can protect bacteria in the stomach from abnormal growth.

What are the consequences of iodine deficiency?

The common effect of iodine deficiency in the body is a goiter. Gozzo is characterized by a swelling around the neck. Swelling is the result of increased biochemical activity in the thyroid gland resulting from high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones. Iodine deficiency can lead to cretinism, a condition characterized by stunted mental and physical growth. The lack of iodine in the body can also cause delayed mental development especially in growing children. Apart from hypothyroidism, the lack of iodine in the female increases the sensitivity of the breast which can expose the breast to the development of the cyst.

What are some natural sources of iodine?

Sea vegetables are good sources of iodine and contain 500% of the daily iodine requirement per serving. Brown algae such as kelp have a higher iodine content than the red sea. Shrimp, tuna, scallops and salmon are also some of the seafood containing iodine. Some of the dairy products like milk and yogurt are also rich sources of iodine for the body, while the eggs also contain elements of iodine

How has the use of iodized salt advanced over the years?

Iodine was discovered by chance in the 19th century by Bernard Courtois while extracting sodium salt for the production of gunpowder. In 1813 a document was presented on the new element in which it was formally called iodine which indicates the color purple. Further experiments revealed that the element was able to reduce the size of goiter in patients. In 1852, the goiter condition was directly associated with the lack of iodine in the body by Adolphe Chatin. In 1896 Eugene Baumann discovered iodine in the thyroid glands. Iodized salt became available on the US shelves in 1924.


Access to iodized salt is still a challenge in some of the developing countries. Less than 20% of families in countries like Ethiopia, Barbados, Haiti, Niger and Afghanistan have access to iodized salt. In Djibouti, it is estimated that no family uses iodized salt. Lack of access to iodized salt is attributed to the family’s economic conditions because most homes that cannot access iodized salt are mostly poor and live in rural areas. The lack of awareness about the benefits of iodine is also an important factor contributing to the lack of access to iodized salt. Most families are not aware of the dangers associated with iodine deficiency in the body.

Lack of access to iodized salt worldwide

degree Country or area Families using iodized salt (%)
1 djibouti 0
2 Somalia 1
3 Haiti 3
4 Sudan 10
5 Guyana 11
6 Guinea-Bissau 12
7 Ethiopia 15
8 Malaysia 18
9 Ukraine 18
10 Dominican Republic 19


by Abdullah Sam
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