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Bread helped solving Tasmania’s iodine deficiency

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Posted February 20, 2018

Iodine is an essential element. Iodine deficiency is linked to poor mental performance as well as slow development of children. Tasmania was one of these places where iodine deficiency in children has been detected, but since 2001 government worked to reduce this problem. Now scientists from the University of Tasmania are certain that bread helps sustaining healthy iodine levels in children.

Bread with iodised salt helps bringing iodine levels in children to adequate. Image credit: Benreis via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

This issue was revealed back in 2001 and in 2009 legislation has been passed to make fortification of bread with iodine mandatory. Iodine is necessary for the normal development of the brain and nervous system. Typically it comes from fish, dairy milk and baking with iodised salt. This is how Australia decided to solve the issue – bread has to be baked using iodised salt. It is been some time since this legislation has been passed and scientists decided to see how it is working. They conducted a new iodine survey in Tasmanian schools and found iodine levels to be within limits.

This shows that mandatory fortification of bread with iodine resulted in healthy levels in children. Although this study didn’t focus on adults, they also eat bread, which means that their iodine levels should be healthy as well. Bread is such an everyday food that it is a good tool to improve public health. However, scientists are warning not to get too excited about these results, because they do not reflect iodine levels in pregnant women and young mothers. Pregnant and breast-feeding women actually need more iodine in their system. Dr Kristen Hynes, lead researcher in this study, said: “To ensure an adequate supply of iodine for the growing foetus and infant, these groups of women should follow the 2010 National Health and Medical Research Council recommendation to take a daily supplement of 150 micrograms of iodine, in addition to healthy eating”.

Tasmanian way of solving iodine deficiency may serve as an example for other countries. However, not in every country iodine levels in schools are assessed. This is a huge health concern, because diary milk, seafood and iodised saltis not in everyone’s diet. Poor iodine levels in childhood can cause poor school performance and, consequently, not the best start in life. Iodine is especially important for pregnant and breast feeding women, which still have to be assessed in Tasmania.

Pretty much everyone eats bread every day. It is a good way to solve public health concerns. Iodised salt is more expensive, but its benefits outweigh the cost.

 

Source: University of Tasmania

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