North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

September 2, 2009

Too much salt in your diet can be bad; too little can also be bad

Health Watch By Steve Mullenix

Special to The North Jefferson News




How much thought have you ever given to the salt you eat?

We all are well aware of the concerns of too much salt, and the negative effects on the blood pressure.

But, did you realize that salt is essential for good health, and that there are different kinds of salt? How many of you have ever really looked at the canister of salt you purchased years ago (that seems to last forever) to see if it is “iodized” salt or not?

Iodized salt is table salt mixed with a minute amount of one of four iodine-containing salts of hydriodic acid, Iodic acid, potassium iodate or potassium iodine. It is used to prevent and remedy iodine deficiency. Worldwide iodine deficiency affects two billion people and it is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.

According to public health experts, iodization of salt may be the world’s simplest and most cost effective measure available to improve health. The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends 150 micrograms of iodine per day for both men and women.

Now a bit of history — In 20th-century America, goiter was especially prevalent in the region around the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest. Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, and develops when it does not have enough iodine to manufacture hormones. As the gland tries to trap more iodine, the gland size increases causing a characteristic swelling in the neck.

Without supplemental iodine, a hypothyroid condition results, likely leading to fatigue, sluggishness, weight gain, and difficulty in the body regulating temperature.

In the 1930s, approximately 40 percent of the people in Michigan had goiter. This was due mainly to iodine-deficient soil. Glacier melting had washed away the iodine.

In 1924, iodine began being added to salt and by 1940, it was in general use. Even today, iodine deficiency is still a problem. You still see people with goiters in the U.S.

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