krutar/shutterstockIt’s no secret by now that eating too much salt can wreak havoc on your body. But what the heck is iodized salt, and should you be buying it?
For starters, iodine is an element that regulates your thyroid glands, stimulates brain development, and naturally detoxes your body. Most adults need about 150 mcg of iodine per day in order to avoid a deficiency, according to experts. Thankfully, the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements say that Americans and Europeans are what’s called “iodine sufficient,” meaning their diet is varied enough to provide the necessary levels of iodine. That’s true even if they don’t use iodized salt, according to the Institutes’ research.
But don’t relax just yet. Iodine deficiencies can be pretty scary, and if you are pregnant, you need to be particularly cautious. The need for iodine increases during pregnancy, because low iodine levels can endanger your baby’s mental development. Doctors often advise pregnant women to eat dairy products and take vitamin supplements, but you should see your own doctor before making any radical changes to your diet. (Still, you can safely stick with these snacks to eat while pregnant.)
For everyone else, you need not worry too much about your iodine levels. And while it’s true that you can get your daily intake of iodine from iodized salt, that’s not always the healthiest solution. To reach the recommended level, you would need to eat more than half a teaspoon of iodized salt a day, which is two-thirds of the daily amount of sodium (1,500 milligrams) recommended by the American Heart Association. (These are the signs you’re eating too much sodium.)
Experts recommend getting your iodine from food, instead. Good sources of iodine—other than iodized salt, of course—include fish, dairy products, grains like bread, and fruits and vegetables. Multivitamin pills and seaweed are also rich in iodine. Make any or all of these foods a staple in your diet, and rest assured you’re well on your way to an iodine-sufficient life.
Now that your mind is in the kitchen, check out the real difference between baking power and baking soda.