Effects of adding iodine to foods other than salt

Iodine fortification of foods and condiments, other than salt, for preventing iodine deficiency disorders

12 February 2019
Santos JR, Christoforou A, Trieu K, McKenzie BL, Downs S, Billot L, Webster J, Li M

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of adding iodine to foods, beverages, condiments, or seasonings, other than salt, on iodine nutrition status and healthrelated outcomes in all populations.

Many people around the world do not consume enough iodine. This is a problem because iodine is important for normal childhood growth and brain development, and for ensuring a healthy adult population. Inadequate intake of iodine can lead to health problems, such as intellectual disability and goitre (enlargement of the thyroid gland). Currently, the main strategy to increase the amount of iodine consumed in populations recommended by the World Health Organization is adding iodine to salt. However, in some areas where salt is not the major condiment, adding iodine to other foods has also been explored.


Eleven studies, captured data on 4317 participants. The type of foods used as vehicle to deliver iodine differed between the studies, and included biscuits, milk, fish sauce, drinking water, yoghurt, fruit drinks, seasoning powder, and infant formula milk.

Lead author Dr Jackie Webster, from the University of Sydney, Australia explains,

“Overall, the findings suggest that iodine fortification of foods other than salt is effective in terms of increasing urinary iodine concentration. However, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate the effects of the intervention on goitre prevalence, physical development measures, or any adverse effects. Whilst the review suggests that other foods could potentially be used as a vehicle for fortification, additional adequately powered, high quality studies on the effects of iodine fortification of foods on important outcomes, would be useful.”

Read the full review here

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