Epidemiology of iodine deficiency

Is anyone aware of any major national or international effort being made to ensure adequate iodine intake within the UK? Even in pregnancy? Hmm... is it too presumptious for me to say: "Well I thought not!"

Minerva Med. 2016 Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]

Epidemiology of iodine deficiency.

Vanderpump MP1.

Author information

1UK representative of the International Council for the Control of the Iodine Deficiency Disorders and President of the British Thyroid Association - drvanderpump@kmsprofessionals.co.uk.


Iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) produced by the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency impairs thyroid hormone production and has adverse effects throughout life, particularly early in life as it impairs cognition and growth. Iodine deficiency remains a significant problem despite major national and international efforts to increase iodine intake, primarily through the voluntary or mandatory iodisation of salt. Recent epidemiological data suggest that iodine deficiency is an emerging issue in industrialised countries, previously thought of as iodine-sufficient. International efforts to control iodine deficiency are slowing, and reaching the third of the worldwide population that remains deficient poses major challenges.

PMID: 27973468

[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


For a few dollars more... Well, 85 euros to be exact, I might have been able to tell you more about the paper.

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39 Replies

  • Going by the abstract, I cannot imagine there's anything useful in the full paper that would be worth paying 85 pence for, let alone 85 euros!

    And, as Vanderpump is from the UK, I have to assume that he's referring to the UK when he states, "major national and international efforts to increase iodine intake, primarily through the voluntary or mandatory iodisation of salt". In which case, I must have been asleep at the time, because I've not been aware of any major national effort in recent years. In fact, haven't we all had it drummed into us to cut down on our salt intake, rather than being instructed to take plenty of iodised salt?

  • Even Lidl seem to have stopped selling iodised salt - which they originally stocked, probably due to their German origin. Sure, with effort, you can buy it. And some lines of processed/prepared food in Aldi and Lidl (and sometimes elsewhere) are made with iodised salt.

  • Yes, I remember Lidl had it in stock for a while, but haven't noticed it there for years now.

  • I have noted the signature on the paper - which is enough for me not to pay any attention.

  • In the computer world, the abbreviation MVP is sometimes used to mean "Most Valued Person" (or Professional). :-) :-) :-)

  • My Goodness Me. I think, actually, Helvella that MVP belong to you alone :) Also Diogenes and his group.

  • Well thanks. To get some iodine into you, try sea salt like Maldon. I don't use any other. And gram for gram it has a stronger taste so you don't need as much.

  • Also saltmarsh lamb in season contains a good slug of iodine from the salt marsh grasses and seaweed they eat.

  • diogenes thank you for alerting us to salt marsh lamb, am currently investigating suppliers.

  • I love salt marsh lamb. In France when we were on holiday it was always so expensive we could never afford to eat it then I discovered it is the only kind of lamb sold in our local farm shop and it's not much more than lamb if I buy it in Waitrose.

  • Fruitandnutcase lucky you being able to buy locally and at a reasonable price. Waitrose apparently trialled it this Autumn.

  • I know, it really is amazing, I could hardly believe it when I first saw it.

    We're on the Herts / Cambs border so if you are anywhere near there I could let you know where I buy it.

  • Fruitandnutcase it seems to have been discovered by the foodie fashionistas which is never a good thing as it means the price goes up!

    Apparently the season finishes in November although there's one or two suppliers who're still stocking it and some do mail order too. Looking forward to trying this!

  • You'll. like it. I think it has a nice sweet taste. My next door neighbours don't like it because they think it tastes salty! I don't like salty food and I've certainly never noticed that it tastes salty.

    This definitely isn't for food fashionistas - it's the only lamb they sell on a regular meat counter in a butcher's outlet at a fruit farm.

    They sell local sausages etc and know the provenance of everything they stock.

    A few years ago they had turkeys out on the grass, they were all fenced off, had their own little hut etc, then the following year they didn't have them. Presumably from people who don't want their children to see and 'talk to' the turkeys they are going to eat or I suppose it could be because of bird flu.

  • The addition of iodine to table salt is a real problem and makes the ‘simple’ table salt so many of us rely on little more than a poison.


  • Sorry the link doesn't work. You originally had no space after it - but even when that was fixed, it doesn't work.

  • Thanks. I have replaced that link.

  • One of the other big problems with iodising salt is that we are continually advised to consume less salt. (Even if this is inappropriate advice, it is what we hear day after day.) At marginal salt consumption iodine content is likely insufficient.

    Same issue with the idea of fortifying flour (especially, bread flour) with folic acid. What good is that in a world in which gluten-free has become so widespread?

  • Such an interesting link shaws. I use Maldon Sea Salt, and in fact I am not very far from Maldon, but it always seems so white that I wonder if it is purified. It does not say so on the packet though.

  • About 4 years ago I started to read about Iodine with respect to thyroid and also diet. I came to the conclusion then that we were short of Iodine but no one seems to be too bothered. I read something fairly recently, sorry can't remember what or where, that more pregnant women in uk are short of Iodine and therefore that isn't good news for them or their babies. Don't think anyone was recommending Iodine supplements though.

    It's hardly surprising that "they" NHS/ medics etc aren't too bothered when they have such poor understanding of thyroid disease and what might cause it!!

    I am also of the opinion that there are more people (mainly women) walking around with goitres but don't suppose anyone notices or makes the connection!!

    I seem to recall that low Iodine levels were associated with higher incidences of breast disease too!!

    I am only an ignorant hypothyroid Hashi's sufferer and have no right to put 2 and 2 together. especially when I haven't had any medical training other than working in a pathology lab!!

    Hope someone comes up with better info for you Helvella. I await with interest.

  • The most interesting approach to iodine supplementation I saw was feeding chickens with a high iodine diet, then eating the eggs.

    I am always concerned because whenever we discuss iodine there seem to be some who consume vast quantities. And I cannot believe that is appropriate either!

  • I use a seaweed based fertiliser on the garden in the hope that my veg will have more iodine

  • yes in the past farmers living near the sea would harvest seaweed to put on their land.

  • Some years ago a program on farming (Countryfile?) showed a potato field in Cornwall - with soil of some incredible depth, lots of feet. Apparently the farmer (and his forefarmers) had covered it with seaweed as fertiliser for many years. This had helped to build up the quality and depth of the soil.

    Also was common on the Welsh coast.

  • common in scotland and Ireland too. Another good reason for trying to eat organically produced foods.

  • I do understand that Iodine supplements can be problematic for thyroidies. Supplemented eggs would be no good to me because I have to avoid them along with gluten and dairy! I do however take a couple of dops of Lugols iodine in water every so often. I find it relieves breast discomfort, but of course that is only anecdotal evidence and of no interest to the breats consultants I have seen over the years!

  • Hope you take selenium as well?

  • Yes, Birgitte I do take Selenium along with Vit D3, K and B12 etc. check levels with BH tests. Checked my Iodine once and it was very low. (expensive test and inconvenient because you have to use a phlebotomist)

  • Good!

    It is a disputed issue, but I am a iodine "believer" as well. You just have to be sure to get your selenium as well.

    Really worried about all the warnings against iodine - if you have any thyroid function left, you really need iodine...

  • Well the uk soil was declared iodine deficient in about 2010... I've been watching and waiting to see what isbeing done about it. The answer is bugger all, though i spotted some iodised salt in Asda a couple of weeks ago.

    There was a study of teenage girls which showed about 70% of them had low iodine levels.....


  • From memory, wasn't that paper also by MVP?

  • Yes, i believe it was.....

  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/216...

    And this is also relevant:


    MVP might be interested, but what is changing to the better?

  • Yes, Galathea, I think that was the research I had read about and yes why isn't there more preventative health such as Iodised salt. I believe the Danes introduced it a few years ago. I do wonder if they have suffered from Chernobyl radiation!!! It certainly landed in UK 1986 I think it happened.

  • I have come to the conclusion that I have most probably been:am iodine deficient. I started off with a goiter and bloods thatcsaid I was hypothyroid about 30 years ago, the goiter went way when treated. It was also suggested I take kelp. I don't have any antibodies and I am currently recovering after radiotherapy following breast cancer. What do others think?

  • Have you looked up iodine and apoptosis? Iodine is one of the things needed to help trigger cells to die when they should. Cells which dont die can be cancerous.

    I think iodine is measured by urine, might well be a good idea to get it measured?

    Xx. G

  • I've sent some links to the hospital today re cancer and iodine. My neighbour is an oncologist and said I must do that! That's a problem though, the scientists do the research but word doesn't always get to where it's needed and clinical trials set up. Also I didn't find a lump and my generation were told that's what's to look for. So I want to get that message across as well. In fact I gotvtalking to a lady at the bus stop today and I did mention itvto her. She couldn't take in whatvi was saying, that I just didn't look like and then she told me what was troubling her. I just said thstcany change should be checked out and she took my hand and said she would do that and thanked me for saving her life. It was a lovely thing for her to say and yet I got no pleasure from it. I've read headlines that thyroid people at a higher risk of breast cancer and I reckon it's because of low iodine levels.

  • I have been hypothyroid for twenty plus years. My breast cancer was found by routine mammogram in September. I had surgery early November and start radiothrapy in January. I had no idea that I was at possible risk due to low iodine. I thought taking iodine was not a good idea. I would be very interested to learn more, as I would like to protect myself from the cancer returning, if possible. Or at least give myself a better chance of not going through this again. I would be grateful for any advice on taking iodine and in what form/amount.

  • I am in the same boat. Infact I actually bought the iodine and decided I would try it to prevent anything but then I was diagnosed in August, operation. In September and started radiotherapy in November. That went well but I still want to follow the iodine procol-there is a group on Facebook but I feel so isolated so hoping that I can get the medics interested locally in the hope that it keeps it at bay. I am finding very tired from Letrozole but if anyone is the same then please pm me if you wish. In the mean time I have upped my kelp but I am not autoimmune and my FT3 has risen slightlyso. W interested to see what happens next!

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