Want to know an honest truth?
Before I became a university qualified nutritionist (and completed an entire research paper on iodine in childhood) you would never have found iodised salt in my pantry. In fact, as a health enthusiast (aka, I enjoyed reading health blogs) I genuinely thought that fancy pink salt was much better for my health.
But here’s the thing. Iodine is an essential nutrient meaning it must be obtained via the diet. Iodine deficiency has significant consequences on a child’s thyroid function, cognitive functioning, growth and development. In short, iodine is important and it’s important that we know what foods contain iodine so that we can make informed choices.
Unfortunately for us here in Australia and for my friends in NZ, the naturally occurring iodine in our soil is low. This means that plant foods grown in soil and grazing livestock are not a reliable source of iodine.
Enter salt and bread into the conversation…
Most kids in Australia are getting adequate iodine through commercially prepared bread thanks to a 2009 mandate for manufacturers (excluding organic and homemade/boutique bread) to use iodised salt. Inadequate iodine intake in children aged 2-3 years decreased from 9% to 1% following this mandatory bread fortification.
Simple and affordable iodine-rich foods:
- Commercial bread
- Iodised salt in family cooking (12m above, used sparingly only. Read this post on salt for more info)
- Dried seaweed (eg nori seaweed)
- Mussels (the seafood 😝)
- Rolled oats
- Dairy (eg yogurt, cheese, milk)
Recommended daily intake of iodine:
- 1-3yr: 90μg/day
- 4-8yr: 90μg/day
If your child falls into one of the below categories, have a chat to your doctor about whether supplementing iodine is necessary for your family:
- Vegan diet
- Don’t consume iodised salt or fortified products such as bread
- Live in known iodine-deficient area.
If you got to the end of this and feel like you just need to know more about nutrients for kids NOW, grab your copy of Nutrition in Detail alongside my Meal Time Success program.
Nutrient Reference Values, iodine, https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/, 2014 (accessed 29 Dec 2020).
The Australian Thyroid Foundation, Iodine deficiency, https://thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency (accessed 29 Dec 2020).
D Osborn. Neonatal Thyroid Disorders, NSW, https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/neonatal/content/pdf/guidelines/thyroid.pdf, 2007 (accessed 12 Jan 2021).
Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Iodine Fort, https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/iodinefort/Pages/default. aspx, 2019 (accessed 5 January 2021).
Eat for Health, Aus Dietary Guid, https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_ guidelines.pdf, 2013 (accessed 12 Jan 2021).
E Whitney, SR Rolfes, T Crow, A Walsh. Understanding Nutrition, Australia, 4th edn., 2019.