Iodine is the main component of thyroid hormones, which are responsible for the regulation of metabolism, brain, heart and other organs function, and, paricularly, for proper development of the nervous system during fetal life.
Iodine deficiency results in unfavourable health outcomes in both an individual and populations. The iodine deficiency consequences depend on its’ severity, age of affected subjects, acompannying deficiencies of other nutrients, and regional culinary habits. Of importance, iodine deficiency is common also in highly developed countires – for example, app. half of the European population is affected.
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable brain damage worldwide. Its most severe form is endemic cretinism. Less severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy negatively impacts a child’s intelectual development, increses the risk of preterm delivery and misscarriage. Iodine malnutrition in schoolchildren leads to worse school results, motoric coordination, and physical development. In children and adults, iodine deficiency may manifest as goiter, both simple and nodular. Iodine deficiency increases the risk of hyperthyroidism, paricilarly in elderly. It also promotes more aggressive histotypes of thyroid cancer.
Iodine is derived from dietary sources. Iodine content in most foods (excluding seafood) is low. However, products such as milk or eggs may become a good source of iodine if livestock fooder is enriched in that micronutrient.
The primary method of iodine prophylaxis, recommended by the WHO, is kitchen salt fortification. Although household salt was already iodised for many years, this prophylactic measure became obligatory only in XNUMX. However, salt used in the food industry is still non-iodized. Salt fortification based iodine prophylaxis may not provide enough iodine if demand for this micronutrient is increased. For example, pregnant women need to be supplemented additionally with multivitamins-minerals formulas. Monitoring is essential for effective iodine prophylaxis and avoidance of excessive iodine intake, particularly when kitchen salt consumption is changing (for example, as a consequence of cardiovascular diseases prevention). The quality of salt iodisation and its populational effects should be controlloed, and additional sources of iodine should be promoted.
Małgorzata Trofimiuk-Müldner graduated from the Medical University in Lublin. She has received her PhD degree from Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow. She is a consultant in endocrinology, nuclear medicine and internal diseases. She has been bound with the Endocrinology Department of the UJCM and the University Hospital in Krakow since the beginning of her professional career. Since mid-1990-ties she has been involved in the programmes for the elimination of ioidine deficiency in Poland.