Due to EU countries lacking in their efforts to eliminate iodine deficiency, reports suggest that half of all new-borns in Europe fail to reach their full cognitive potential. Now scientists taking part in the EUthyroid project have signed up to the Krakow declaration of iodine.
What is the Krakow declaration on iodine?
“The Krakow declaration on iodine demands national governments and public health officials to be aware of their responsibility to take care of the sufficient iodine status of their populations instead of relying on scientists and other stakeholders to take action” said EUthyroid project coordinator professor Henry Völzke from the University of Greifswald in Germany.
Poland, in 1997, introduced an obligatory iodine prophylaxis (a treatment given or action taken to prevent disease) mainly based on household salt iodisation. Professor Alicja Hubalewska-Dydejczyk from the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Poland said this has “significantly improved iodine nutrition in Poland with a measurable impact of health”. She believes in a long-term monitoring programme with focussed attention on pregnant women and children. Despite this, only 8 countries in the EU have complied so far to the World Health Organisations (WHO) call for regular monitoring.
Why is iodine especially important during pregnancy and in young children?
Firstly, what is iodine? You may remember iodine as a chemical element in chemistry class. It is a naturally occurring micronutrient that cannot be formed in the body yet it is essential to support normal thyroid health, cognitive function and metabolism. If a diet isn’t varied in foods naturally iodine rich then it could be iodine insufficient. According to WHO, in 2007, nearly 2 billion individuals worldwide had insufficient iodine intake, a third being of school age.
In some cases this can lead to an iodine deficiency with symptoms such as goitre and hypothyroidism. Studies suggest that Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and in the early years of childhood can impair cognitive development, the nervous system and normal growth. Reported to be one of the leading preventable causes of intellectual and developmental disabilities.
What are countries doing about iodine deficiencies?
Salt iodisation is the first-line strategy taken on by countries such as Poland and Australia. However, the process has lacked global coordination and sustainability; the two prerequisites for reaching the aim of eliminating iodine deficiency. This manufactured form of fortified sodium chloride (salt) contains only small amounts of iodine and let’s face it, eating more salt can’t be the healthiest or only solution since we know we already eat too much salt. Therefore, with calls now for reduced salt products we need a flavour lifting, naturally iodine rich alternative.
Obtaining iodine from our diets should be easy, with foods such as eggs, dairy, white fish and seaweed being natural sources. However with a rising vegan population, people on a plant-based diet are missing out, as well as those who avoid dairy, and since as a population we don’t eat enough fish (and definitely not enough seaweed!).
A standard serving of almond milk contains 0.23 micrograms of iodine compared to 22 micrograms in the same amount of cow’s milk says Natasha Murray, Accredited Practising Dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. A diet rich in the right type of seaweed or supplementation may be the best long-term option for vegans and pregnant women as higher risk groups.
Where can I get a natural source of iodine?
Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful Organic Scottish Seaweed Supplements contain nothing but 100% PureSeaTM Natural seaweed, encased in a vegan capsule offering a natural alternative for those who want a known, natural, organic and Kosher iodine source.
Traceable all the way back to the harvest location in the Outer Hebrides and DNA Authenticated SeaweedTM to ensure what you get is what you asked for. The iodine source in our seaweed supports thyroid health and metabolism, and research shows other specific compounds can help to manage weight and blood sugar release. With broader nutrition than land-plants, seaweed contains a huge range of minerals, trace elements, vitamin groups, amino acids and essential fatty acids as a basis to a varied diet and healthy lifestyle.
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