Thursday, July 1, 2010

Andrei Cum grano salis

Or: Why is there a re-emergence in iodine deficiency?

The subtitle comes from this MOH Nutrition Fact sheet about Iodine: Iodine Status in New Zealand.

Now we haven't heard much lately about the health effects of Iodine deficiency because the majority of table salt sold in New Zealand has been iodized since before we were born - so it hasn't been a problem until now.

The linked fact sheet ponders this quandry
Why is there a re-emergence in iodine deficiency?
The re-emergence in iodine deficiency appears to be due to:
  • the increased consumption of commercially-prepared foods (manufactured mostly with non-iodised salt)
  • the declining use of iodine-containing sanitizers by the dairy industry
  • less salt being used in home prepared foods as a response to the health messages to reduce salt intake

In order of precedence the commercial preparers of food use non iodized salt (according to the MOH anyway) and are the first villain. I suppose it saves them money and boosts profits not to use the iodized variety.

I'm not sure about the second but surely and rationally the last has to be related to the first - the nutritionists have whined about us eating too much salt for years and the people who sell "commercially-prepared foods" have cut back the salt content in response1.

In any case Iodine deficiency is apparently such a big problem amongst pregnant and nursing mothers that free Iodine tablets will be supplied on prescription until at least 2012 when the matter may be reviewed.

NeuroKare, a 150mcg iodine tablet, has got the gig. By my rough reckoning it should be worth about $5 million a year to whoever makes them.
(1) On planet earth where mammalian life forms exist salt is an essential ingredient for their biochemistry to function and for human kind who can report on their experience salt makes food taste "nicer".

Presumably this is natures way of ensuring people and other life forms which require salt for remain fully functional ingest it.

It is only in the hallowed halls of academia and the concrete towers inhabited by Public Health Nutritionists salt is problem.

I do note at little wryly that the people who tell us these things receive salaries for their efforts. I wonder when if they ever think beyond the sum received to the origin of the word - it comes of course  from the Latin Sal for salt which was used as a method of payment in Biblical times.

And isn't a good fellow is often described as being "the salt of the earth".

4 comment(s):

Lucia Maria said...

Isn't the problem, though, you can have too much of a good thing? That seems to be the way today. Everything is available in such abundance that is is possible to overindulge on that that is life-giving. When causes an overreaction to the opposite extreme.

Andrei said...

Indeed you can have too much of a good thing Lucia Maria.

Apples are good things - a good healthy choice for school lunch boxes we are told.

How do you think you'ld get on if you ate nothing but apples? Would that be a "healthy" choice?

Really this post is quite cynical - I find it incredulous that in 2010 anybody in New Zealand has an Iodine deficiency or that this is gap problem the Government needs fill.

I'd suggest that this initiative is a solution looking for a problem.

I.M Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I.M Fletcher said...

I think my folks have some health book that says iodine deficiency leads to goiters or something...

Anyway, to check if you have enough, you're supposed to take an opened bottle of iodine, place the end on the inside of your wrist, and upend the bottle for a second, then remove. If the iodine is absorbed into your skin, you repeat the process. Keep repeating until the iodine is no longer absorbed and sits on the surface of the skin (at this point the body has absorbed all it needs).

That is what my mother does, anyway.

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