· By Julia Boase

Iodine For Kids

I think most people are aware that iodine is an important nutrient for health, but you’re possibly not aware of why it’s important, or why there’s been such an emphasis on it in recent years.


Iodine is an essential trace element required for the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are required for normal growth and development, as well as neurological functioning. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable intellectual disability world wide.

It’s extremely important for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women to get enough iodine in their diets to prevent growth and intellectual problems. 


In Australia our soils have become depleted of iodine, meaning that vegetables are not necessarily a reliable or consistent source of this nutrient. Changes to sanitisation practices within the dairy industry (milk vats used to be cleaned with a product that left an iodine residue) also mean that milk, whilst still a good source of iodine, is not quite as good as it once was. 


To address these problems, Australia introduced mandatory fortification of salt used for bread making purposes in 2009 (note - artisan and organic loaves are exempt from this).


To ensure children are getting enough iodine, it always wise to use an iodised salt in your home cooking (this is widely available in supermarkets) and where possible choose a bread that is made with iodised salt. Other good sources of iodine include seaweed (roasted nori sheets, sushi), seafood (aim to eat fish or other seafood once a week if not more regularly), eggs and dairy products.  If you are pregnant or breastfeeding an iodine supplement is recommended. 


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