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Getting Essential Iodine in Food

19 June 2015

Iodine is a necessary trace element to humans, and iodine deficiency can cause malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.

Population studies show that the intake of iodine from food is too low in Finland, according to researcher Taija Kosonen, from the Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit of Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira

Iodine in foods Iodine is a dietary mineral that is essential for humans.

It forms part of thyroid hormones that play an important role in the early growth and development of several organs, particularly the brain. Iodine deficiency during the foetal period may cause neurological development disorders.

The Finnish National Nutrition Council's recommended iodine intake is 150 µg/day for adults, 175 µg/day for pregnant women, and 200 µg/day for breastfeeding women.

In population studies, Finns have been found to get too little iodine from food. The most important sources of iodine for humans are milk, iodised salt, fish, eggs and seaweed.

The iodine contents of foodstuffs used by Finns were determined in 2013 - 2015 in sub-projects funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. Its objective was to obtain updated information on the iodine contents in different foodstuffs.

The iodine contents of milk, eggs, fish, seaweed and different dairy products were determined at the Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira using the ICP-MS technique.

The procedure has been accredited in accordance with the SFS-EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard.

Milk contained an average of 15 µg/100 g of iodine, which does not particularly differ from the earlier information concerning the iodine content of Finnish milk.

Eggs had an iodine content of 42 µg/100 g, and omega eggs 19 µg/100 g. The majority of the iodine in eggs is in the yolk.

The iodine contents of the analysed fish varied between 6.2 and 78 µg/100 g.

Saltwater fish contained less iodine than corresponding freshwater fish. Iodine contents of up to 677 mg/100 g were measured in seaweed.

The use of iodised salt has been found to be the most effective way of increasing iodine intake and preventing iodine deficiency.

The food industry and mass catering, however, use uniodised salt as a rule.

The National Nutrition Council has decided to recommend the use of iodised salt in bakery products, and to households and mass catering.

June 2015

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