Note: it can be spelled iodized or iodised
I suppose it was only a matter of time before it started to happen. Conspiracy theorists and various “natural healing” groups are now moving from fluoridated water to iodized salt. The claims are pretty similar: That it is forced medication that takes away choice from the individual, that it is dangerous and toxic and that the goals of adding iodine have nothing to do with improving human health and everything to do with causing disease/controlling the population/reducing fertility etc etc.
Iodine is a necessary dietary trace mineral that all humans need for optimal health. It can be found in a number of different foods, but the most rich source of iodine is seafood. Fish and other marine life is rich in iodine, and therefore, those who consume fish regularly will generally have sufficient iodine levels. However, in areas where diet is not as varied and seafood is not as common, iodine deficiency can be common.
Iodine is required for the synthesis of thyroid hormone and without sufficient iodine, the thyroid cannot readily produce the hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine . The result is improper regulation of metabolism. This can lead to stunted growth, fatigue, depression, loss of strength and other health problems.
In infants and children, it can cause cretinism, a severe stunting of development which can also result in mental retardation. According to the WHO, cretinism, as a result of iodine deficiency is the single largest preventable cause of mental retardation in the world. Studies have shown that inadequate iodine before birth can cause problems with fetal neurological development that can produce lifelong disability.
In the most extreme cases, iodine deficiency can cause goiter – a swelling of the thyroid gland. More than 90% of goiters in the world are caused by lack of iodine. Goiters can become quite large, even to the point where the swelling makes breathing or talking difficult. If left untreated, the swelling can be permanent.
Severe iodine deficiency was once fairly common in much of the industrial world. In the United States, a large area from the midwest, through the Great Lakes region and into the Northwest was dubbed the “Goiter Belt.” Residents of this area ate little or no seafood and both the local soil and water had relatively low amounts of dissolved iodine, resulting in little exposure from locally grown foods or water.
Doctors in the region were deeply concerned about widespread iodine deficiency. Doctor David Murray Cowie was one of the pioneers of iodine supplementation. Cowie had become aware of successful, although small scale, programs to add potassium or sodium iodide to table and cooking salt. This had been done in Switzerland for several years and appeared promising. In 1923, Cowie appealed to the Michigan State Medical Society, who endorsed the plan to add iodine to cooking and table salts. With the full backing of the Michigan State Medical Society, Cowie turned to the Michigan Salt Producer’s Association. A committee was created to determine the proper levels for salt iodization and in 1924, it was determined that salt would be produced containing .01% sodium iodide.
Starting in May of 1924, iodized salt began showing up on the shelves of Michigan stores. By the fall of 1924, the Morton Salt Company began distributing iodized salt nationwide. The sale was labeled as such, and was consumed enthusiastically by a public aware of the dangers of goiters. The addition of iodine to salt does not increase the price significantly. In fact, it is so cheap, that a years worth of iodine costs mere pennies per person.
The iodization of salt in the US was swiftly followed by other industrial countries. By the 1930’s, much of the industrial world’s cooking and table salt supply. The results were dramatic. By the mid 1930’s, occurrence of goiters had dropped significantly. By the 1940’s, the US Congress was being called upon to mandate iodization of all salts. Canada and other countries had done so in the 1930’s.
Today most table and cooking salt produced in the industrial world is iodized. Non-iodized salt is still available and is preferred for canning and some other uses. In some areas, all salt sold to consumers is required to be iodized, unless it is specifically sold for purposes other than general table use. In some areas, iodized salt has only recently been introduced or mandated. In South Africa, for example, iodization of salt was mandated in 1995 to combat a national epidemic of iodine deficiency.
There remain a few industrial countries where iodized salt is not the norm, although many have chosen other methods of iodine supplementation. In the UK, only 5% of salt is fortified with iodine, however, iodine is fed to dairy herds as a means of increasing the iodine levels in milk. This resulted in a large decline of goiters. However, reduced consumption of milk is leading to calls for iodized salt as the standard for the United Kingdom, due to increasing rates of iodine deficiencies.
It should be noted that salt iodization has not been highly successful in reducing iodine deficiency, but remains less than 100% successful. Today, severe iodine deficiency, of the type which can cause goiters is very rare in the developed world. However, minor deficiencies of iodine is still common. Although this is not as serious as severe deficiency, sub-optimal iodine intake can be a concern, especially in pregnant women. Part of the problem is the vast variance in how much salt individuals use. Another problem has been the increased use of processed foods, which may be salted with non-iodized salts. Doctors have called upon the EU to make salt iodization mandatory for all salt used in food preparation as one way of reducing the high rate of mild iodine deficiencies found in the European population.
Assuring that everyone gets sufficient iodine may require additional steps, including greater use of supplements, ionization of salts used in processed foods, increased levels of iodine in salt or other measures. However, the iodized of salt remains an important measure in reducing iodine deficiency and has been endorsed by the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other major bodies. In 1992, the UN World Summit for Children called for the universal iodization of salt, a goal which has not yet been met.
Despite the decades of success and safety of salt iodization, it is predictable that there would be a growing movement to oppose it. The reasons are the same used for fluoridation of water, vaccines and so on. It’s described as unnatural, dangerous, forced medication and so on.
Things have changed since the 1920′s with the manufacturing of toxic chemicals and more cost effective ways of harvesting salt. Most of the salt harvested then was natural salt from the sea or from natural salt deposits and contained the beneficial trace mineral iodine.
Table Salt or “Iodized Salt” is not a healthy naturally occurring rock, crystal or sea salt. It is a manufactured type of sodium called sodium chloride with added iodide.
Iodine in salt available at grocery stores, restaurants and in practically all processed foods, have synthetic chemicals added to them. These chemicals may include manufactured forms of iodide, sodium solo-co-aluminate, fluoride sodium bicarbonate, toxic amounts of potassium iodide, anti-caking agents and aluminium derivatives. Table salt has also been bleached. Unfortunately, most table salt is not only unhealthy, but is toxic to the body and should never be considered as a source of healthy iodine.
Salt found in nature is not usually white it is pink in color such as Himalayan Crystal salt which is harvested in pristine mountains and naturally dried in the sun.
Of course, salt today is still derived from natural sources, and things like “anti-caking” agents have been added for decades, because, without them, salt would solidify and not pour properly due to moisture. Salt in nature can be any number of colors, as a result of impurities. Sodium Chloride is and always was the primary component of salts used in foods. It’s the primary component of both sea and rock salts.
There are other sites out there claiming iodine in salt is the cause of aids or some other disease. They will not be linked here, but they can be found quite easily. Still others claim iodine from salt leads to excessive iodine intake, although this is also not true, as it would be very difficult to consume enough iodine to be in danger of of iodine toxicity from the amounts in salt. It is certainly possible to have too much iodine, but in such cases, it is not generally the result of salt usage.
Others claim that it is simply unnatural, with little additional details.
In the early part of the 20th century, iodine deficiency was quite common in the United States and Canada. Use of Iodized salt has decreased this deficiency. While many types of table salt are iodine-enriched, they are also stripped of all their natural health properties, and are chemically processed.
The bad news is that table and cooking salt found in most homes, restaurants, and processed foods is void of nutritional value, lacking beneficial trace minerals. Processing salt turns it into sodium chloride, an unnatural salt the human body actually sees as a toxic invader!
No. Potassium iodide is potassium iodide. Sodium iodide is sodium iodide. Your body doesn’t care if it was put there or naturally there. And you cannot “turn it into sodium chloride” it always was sodium chloride because that’s what common salt is. It certainly is not a toxic invader, although it could be toxic if you had enough of it. In fact, it’s vital to your body’s basic operations.
Thankfully, iodized salt has become so commonplace and widely accepted that these ridiculous claims remain fringe in the first world and are unlikely to result in any sizable movement against iodine supplementation through salt. Unfortunately, they can cause a great deal of harm in the developing world. Just as efforts to introduce lifesaving measures like vaccines have been threatened by unfounded claims of harm, so has iodized salt.
Pakistan’s mistrust of iodised salt is aggravating a deeper health crisis
Commonly held conspiracy theories about iodine and infertility may have led to widespread malnutrition and birth defects, researchers say
At a bustling general store in Lahore, people ask a lot of questions about one seemingly innocuous product: table salt. If it contains iodine, about 40% of his customers spurn it, according to proprietor Muhammad Waqas Vicky. They won’t allow their families to consume what they call “mixed salt”, believing it causes infertility. “The majority among them are businessmen and religious people,” said Vicky. Pakistanis of all classes have been hearing about the alleged dangers of iodised salt for nearly two decades. But insufficient iodine in the diet can cause spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, goitre, mental retardation, birth defects and other problems.
Anti-polio campaigns here have been the target of deadly attacks that stemmed from similar myths, but officials blame the iodine-related infertility rumours, at least in part, for a massive health crisis. Nearly half of Pakistan’s population of 200 million suffers from some form of iodine deficiency disorder, according to last year’s National Nutrition Survey, which was carried out by academics, Unicef and Pakistan’s health ministry. Various reports have linked manifestations such as lethargy and lower IQ scores to dampened national productivity, which can further harm a fragile country like Pakistan, consistently beset by economic crisis as it is.
How did this happen? Some experts see little mystery in the evolution of what has become one of Pakistan’s more bizarre and destructive conspiracy theories. Seventeen years ago, well-meaning government officials launched a maternal health initiative in the face of ever-rising birthrates. To this day, people remember a slide show on official Pakistan television – at the time the nation’s only channel – that pushed prenatal care and awareness of vital nutrients. The penultimate slide promoted one element in particular: iodine.
The final slide, officials recall, credited the initiative to the government’s department of primary health and family planning. “There was a communication mistake,” Tariq Aziz, an expert on iodised salt production, said of the 1995 broadcast. “People thought this was purely a family planning initiative.”
After the public conflated iodine with government-enforced birth control, rumours took off about an international scheme to limit Muslim population growth through iodised salt. The falsehoods became especially potent in a society that prizes large families and where contraception use is low. By 2001, a mere 17% of Pakistani households used iodised salt, Unicef reported, compared with, say, Bangladesh, where the consumption rate was 78%.
Sadly myths like the one that has become common in Pakistan are very hard to combat and tend to get even worse as opportunistic quacks attempt to milk them for profit, whether to sell books, lecture tickets or cures to the imagined problem. Although especially prevalent in Pakistan, these same myths are present elsewhere. Attempts by groups like the WHO to increase the use of iodized salt can easily be portrayed as outsiders attempting to poison native populations. The growing ranks of Western conspiracy theorists certainly do not help either.
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, History, Misc, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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