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Decreased salt consumption may lead to iodine deficiency: report

06-18-2010 09:25 BJT

LOS ANGELES, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The trend among Americans to reduce salt consumption raises concern about iodine deficiency, particularly among pregnant women and infants, thyroid experts say.

Cutting salt consumption may be good for the heart, but it might also lead to lower levels of iodine, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) said in a report published in the June issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Iodized salt is an important source of dietary iodine in the U.S. and worldwide. Iodine, essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, is obtained solely through diet," the report noted.

Overall, Americans still receive sufficient iodine, but many pregnant women may be iodine-deficient due to reduced consumption of iodized salt.

Iodized salt has been sold in the United States since the 1920s, but Americans' iodine levels have decreased 50 percent over the past three decades, according to the report. Iodine is essential for proper synthesis of thyroid hormones, which are critical to normal infant brain development and to prevent neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral problems.

Iodine helps prevent thyroid conditions such as goiter and neonatal iodine deficiency.

While agreeing with calls for reduced salt consumption in order to improve heart health, the ATA recommends that all producers of commercially prepared foods -- accounting for up to 70 percent of all salt consumed in the U.S. -- use iodized salt, a step not currently practiced by commercial food manufacturers.

"Any decrease in salt intake should not cause a reduction in dietary iodine intake," the report noted. The ATA recommends that women take 150 micrograms of iodine supplements daily during pregnancy and breast-feeding, and that all prenatal vitamin/mineral preparations contain 150 micrograms of iodine.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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