Friday, December 23, 2005

Sea salt is not a good source of dietary iodine

As one navigates cyberspace learning about salt, sometimes misunderstandings, through repetition, seem to endow erroneous claims with an unwarranted credibility. Take the case of iodine in sea salt. One blog I recently visited pointed towards the Saltworks Inc. website reference guide to gourmet salt. Interesting site, but one error on the site -- typical of a number of other cyber-discussions -- needs to be flagged. The site says "Natural sea salt is a healthy replacement for ordinary table salt." Nothing wrong with that. Sea salt, properly washed, is every bit as healthy as evaporated table salt. The context, however, introduces a misunderstanding. Immediately before, the text discusses the importance of dietary iodine, noting that iodized salt is a valued delivery vehicle for iodine-deficient populations, but adding, correctly, that diets with sufficient seafood will get enough iodine. It is in this context, then, that the text claims that sea salt is a safe alternative to vacuum pan evaporated salt. While "safe" and "healthy," sea salt is NOT a good source of dietary iodine. It would seem natural that it might be, since it comes from the sea, but, in fact, sea salt has only minute amounts of iodine and is NOT a safe alternative for those on iodine-deficient diets who are seeking to improve their health (and that of their unborn child in the case of expectant mothers) by boosting their iodine intakes using salt as the carrier. For more on the benefits of iodized salt, see the Salt Institute website,


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