EU needs common policy on iodised salt to battle deficiencies: Study

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Iodine deficiency, Iodine, Thyroid

11 countries in Europe are classified as ‘iodine deficient’
11 countries in Europe are classified as ‘iodine deficient’
A common European Union policy which requires the food industry to use iodised salt is needed to tackle the issue of deficiencies, say authors of a study that  found 44% of Europeans are deficient in the nutrient.


“Iodised salt for household use is available in most European countries, but unfortunately much of the salt used in food production is not iodised,”​ said Dr Maria Andersson, lead author of the paper, which was published in the April issue of The Journal of Nutrition​.

“The issue of iodine deficiency is unfortunately a low priority in many European countries. Coordinated actions for a common EU policy are needed, particularly for salt used by the food industry.”

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders analysed data from the WHO database, research papers published in peer-reviewed journals and survey reports to document the prevalence of iodine deficiency worldwide.

11 countries in Europe were classified as ‘iodine deficient’, based on the median urinary iodine concentration (UIC), with Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, and the UK and Ireland faring worst in the study.

“In Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries, salt iodisation slipped backwards and the dietary iodine intake decreased after the collapse of the Soviet Union,”​ said Andersson.

“A similar trend is seen in the UK and Ireland where the iodine intake has long been assumed to be adequate, mainly due to sufficient iodine intake from milk, but where the population is now iodine deficient. Iodisation of salt is not regulated in the UK and only about five per cent of all salt sold in the UK is iodised.”

‘Aye’ to mandatory iodine

By contrast, Denmark, where legislation mandates salt used in bread production to be iodised, and Portugal, where iodine supplementation has been introduced for pregnant women, were both found to have ‘optimal iodine nutrition’.

The reason iodine deficiency is a concern is that iodine is a critical component of the thyroid hormones that are need to modulate growth, development and energy metabolism.

“Iodine deficiency has multiple adverse effects on growth and development due to inadequate thyroid hormone production...Iodine deficiency remains a major global threat to health and development, because it is the most common cause of preventable mental impairment...Pregnant women and young children are particularly susceptible,”​ wrote the authors.

Beside iodised salt, the major dietary iodine sources are bread and milk; bread due to a combination of the native iodine content in grains and the use of iodised salt, and milk due to iodine fortification of cattle feed, explained Andersson.

She dismissed the suggestion that salt reduction drives in some EU countries could be contributing to iodine deficiency, saying: “The low iodine intake in some European countries is likely a combination of low household use and low use of iodised salt by the food industry. Coordinated actions between the food industry (the use of iodised salt at adapted fortification levels) and salt reduction strategies would ensure adequate iodine intake despite a lower salt intake.”

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Total Solutions for Cognitive Health by Lubrizol

Total Solutions for Cognitive Health by Lubrizol

Lipofoods, a Lubrizol Company | 05-May-2022 | Technical / White Paper

Globally, health and wellbeing have shifted from a focus on physical health and nutrition to also include cognitive and mental wellness, therefore consumers...

Trending solutions for immunity beverages

Trending solutions for immunity beverages

Prinova Europe Limited | 12-Apr-2022 | Technical / White Paper

One of the effects of COVID-19 has been to increase consumer interest in beverages with functional benefits, particularly for immune health.

Alesco, the Sucrosomial® company

Alesco, the Sucrosomial® company

Alesco S.r.l. | 29-Mar-2022 | Product Brochure

Alesco raw materials and functional ingredients offer unique, scientifically proven characteristics, suited for a wide range of needs in the pharmaceutical,...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more