Iodine is an important nutrient and essential to make thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone plays a vital role in regulating all the body cells’ metabolism. It supports carbohydrate metabolism, cell growth, brain development, regulating hormone release and many other body functions. Iodine is even critical to women and infants. Salt iodization is recommended by WHO to prevent and correct iodine deficiency.
Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has Implemented Regulations Regarding Labeling of Salt Containing Added Iodine
It is estimated that around 180 million people suffer from iodine deficiency in the world. Health Promotion Administration in Taiwan has warned in May 2015 that we have mild iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency in infants under aged 3 would have great impacts on their brain development, resulting in lower IQ, retarded body growth and increasing risks of cretinism. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy would risk miscarriage, stillbirth and congenital abnormalities. In responding to such problems, the government has raised iodine levels in salt and encouraged iodine added food.
Taiwan FDA implemented regulations regarding salt labeling in July 2017. Salt products containing potassium iodide need to be labelled as iodized salt. Early days, in order to prevent goiter resulted from iodine deficiency, Taiwan made a full implementation of iodized salt sale monopoly system. Salt sale became a free trade in 2004. Salt products have not been forced to add iodine, plus lacking of proper labelling, so many people still believe that all salt products are iodized.
Iodine Deficiency Also Happens in Developed Countries
According to “Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan: Analysis on Urinary Iodine Concentration (UIC)”, the median UIC in 51% of Taiwanese people was 99μg/L, lower than WHO recommendation—100μg/L. The survey showed that we have iodine deficiency issue. Iodine is an essential nutrient. Deficient in iodine may cause lower IQ in infants and goiter. Thus, the government has decided to raise iodine concentration from 12~20 ppm to 20~30 ppm.
Iodine deficiency has been one of the public dangers. While iodine is easily replaced by environmental toxic substances (such as bromine, pesticide and food additives), iodine deficiency has become a serious issue everywhere. According to WHO, lower IQ caused by iodine deficiency can be easily prevented comparing to other intellectual disorders. Besides, iodine deficiency is not a problem specifically for poor countries. Lifestyles and processing technology have changed the ways we take foods. Many developed nations also suffer from the risks caused by iodine deficiency.
Understanding Health Needs for Pregnant Women and Infants through Monitoring Mechanism and Modern Technology
Taiwan pays highly attention to the iodine status in pregnant women. We use monitoring mechanism and modern technology to evaluate people’s health needs. In responding to WHO Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, the government will initiate “Global Framework for Infant and Young Child Feeding” and “Risk Assessment and Management Tools for Conflicts of Interest on Nutrition”. According to Ministry of Health and Welfare’s report on dietary reference intakes (DRIs), pregnant women need to daily take 200μg iodine and increase to 250μg during lactation. Infants aged 0-6 moths are recommended to take 110μg iodine daily, 130μg for infants aged 7-12 months, 65μg for 1-3 years old babies and 90μg for aged 4-6. We expect to therefore increase iodine intakes for pregnant women, infants and children.