A recent study has found that an increasing number of young women are at higher risk of having children born with impaired neurological conditions due to poor iodine intake. Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, findings of the research found that dietary changes including the avoidance of bread and iodised salt, and a reduced intake of animal products containing iodine, can contribute to low iodine levels.
The study undertaken by the University of South Australia comparing iodine levels between 31 vegans/plant-based participants and 26 omnivores has flagged the potential health risk. Urine samples showed iodine readings of 44 ug/L in the plant-based group, compared to the meat eaters' 64 ug/L levels. Neither group came close to the World Health Organisation's recommended 100 grams per litre. Participants from both groups who chose pink or Himalayan salt instead of iodised salt had severely deficient iodine levels, averaging 23 ug/L.
UniSA research dietitian Jane Whitbread says adequate iodine is essential for fetal intellectual development. She was quoted in a report as saying, “Mild to moderate iodine deficiency has been shown to affect language development, memory and mental processing speeds. During pregnancy, the need for iodine is increased and a 150mcg supplement is recommended prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, most women do not take iodine supplements before conceiving. It is important to consume adequate iodine, especially during the reproductive years.”
Well-known dietary sources of iodine include fortified bread, iodized salt, seafood including seaweeds, eggs, and dairy food.