In the previous article I posted on salt, I only mentioned salt and the fads of sea salt versus table salt, and whether “natural” is better than “table salt.” I also posted a link and a drawing created by ScienceforKids that gives a visual explanation of what it looks like on a chemical level and a picture of what sodium looks like from Wikipedia. But there is the famous iodine! It confuses people since many do not know what it does and what it is. To make it more complicated there is iodide, iodate, iodine, potassium iodate, etc. Salt manufacturers label their salt with whichever and what they put in all lead to iodine in the salt only the iodine is connected to the NaCl molecule in a different way to form the molecule iodized salt.
To make it easier on me, I am quoting here Wikipedia on what Iodized Salt does:
Iodised salt (also spelled iodized salt) is table salt mixed with a minute amount of various salts of the element iodine. The ingestion of iodide prevents iodine deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities.[verification needed] Deficiency also causes thyroid gland problems, including “endemic goitre“. In many countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem that can be cheaply addressed by purposely adding small amounts of iodine to the sodium chloride salt.
Iodine is a micronutrient and dietary mineral that is naturally present in the food supply in some regions, especially near sea coasts, but is generally quite rare in the Earth’s crust, since iodine is a so-called “heavy” element (with the highest atomic mass of any element needed by mammals for life), and abundance of chemical elements generally declines with greater atomic mass. Where natural levels of iodine in the soil are low and the iodine is not taken up by vegetables, iodine added to salt provides the small but essential amount of iodide needed by humans.
So as you can see, iodized salt is mandatory. You can click on the links under each word and it will take you back to Wikipedia for further explanation of what is what and why. As for the various forms of iodine, I thought I help you see what is what easier if I collect the information here for you on one page.
Here is what potassium iodate is from Wikipedia:
Potassium iodate is sometimes used for iodination of table salt to prevent iodine deficiency. Because iodide can be oxidized to iodine by molecular oxygen under wet conditions, US companies add thiosulfates or other antioxidants to the potassium iodide. In other countries, potassium iodate is used as a source for dietary iodine. It is also an ingredient in some baby formula milk.
Here is iodine from Wikipedia:
Iodine and its compounds are primarily used in nutrition, and industrially in the production of acetic acid and certain polymers. Iodine’s relatively high atomic number, low toxicity, and ease of attachment to organic compounds have made it a part of many X-ray contrast materials in modern medicine. Iodine has only one stable isotope. A number of iodine radioisotopes are also used in medical applications.
Iodine is found on Earth mainly as the highly water-soluble iodide ion I−, which concentrates it in oceans and brine pools. Like the other halogens, free iodine occurs mainly as a diatomic molecule I2, and then only momentarily after being oxidized from iodide by an oxidant like free oxygen. In the universe and on Earth, iodine’s high atomic number makes it a relatively rare element. However, its presence in ocean water has given it a role in biology. It is the heaviest essential element utilized widely by life in biological functions (only tungsten, employed in enzymes by a few species of bacteria, is heavier). Iodine’s rarity in many soils, due to initial low abundance as a crust-element, and also leaching of soluble iodide by rainwater, has led to many deficiency problems in land animals and inland human populations. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities.
Iodine is required by higher animals for synthesizing thyroid hormones, which contain the element. Because of this function, radioisotopes of iodine are concentrated in the thyroid gland along with nonradioactive iodine. If inhaled, the radioisotope iodine-131, which has a high fission product yield, concentrates in the thyroid, but is easily remedied with non-radioactive potassium iodide treatment.
An image of iodine also from the same article in Wikipedia
Iodine is a necessary element in salt to protect the thyroid. It was also the first item that was gone from all the shelves in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami shaken nuclear plant, started leaked (and is still leaking) radiation. Iodine can help the thyroid sponge up radiation from the body. It can save your life.
Many countries (in fact most countries) do not mandate iodine in their salt, except for the US. This helped clear the “goiter belt” in the US where the soil naturally does not contain enough iodine and the plants the US population ate were deficient of iodine. Thus the US placed iodine into salt so that the masses can be properly protected.
This of course, now with the sea salt fad, is all going out the window since many sea salts come without iodine. In fact people even in the US proudly tell me they eat salt without iodine since they do not need it. This is a lovely misconception that will end in the goiter belt’s return by the end of the 21st Century, when the youth of today and their children all without sufficient iodine will end up with goiter and without enough thyroid hormone to start with.
It is time for the US population to wake up and discover that nature creates things that are important for our survival–we were made of them! If we drop them out of our lives, we will also drop out of life. It is that simple. So the next time you buy your salt, be it any name or brand or color of your preference, make sure it has iodine. Also make sure you don’t get too much iodine!
Grow the habit of using iodized salt for cooking and the rest of the salt you take in say for excessive sweating from heat or exercise, use salt without iodine. The iodine in the salt you cook with is enough iodine for your daily need!
Comments are welcome!