The iodine status of New Zealanders is declining...why is this happening, and what does this mean for our health? Are you at risk of iodine deficiency? Read below for more info and for our ridiculously simple Nori Roll recipe to give you an iodine hit :)
Iodine deficiency was on the increase in New Zealand in the late 1800s and early 1900s with the numbers of goitres (enlarged thyroid glands protruding from the neck due to iodine deficiency) increasing. As a public health initiative, table salt was iodised in the early 1900s to help reverse this. This helped for a time but then the anti-salt message got out there and low iodine status was once again a problem in NZ. So, another public health initiative started in 2009 - all commercial bread was fortified with iodine. Now, many people are avoiding bread due to their perceptions of gluten, carbs etc being unhealthy so we find ourselves once again with low iodine status!
Why does this matter? Iodine is an essential nutrient (meaning we have to consume it as our body can't produce it itself) and plays an important role in thyroid health. Our thyroid gland and hormones help with our metabolic state and support normal growth and development in children. Iodine is essential for normal brain development of infants (during gestation and in young children) therefore pregnant women are currently advised to take an iodine supplement.
What can we do to improve our own iodine status?
If you don't use salt, don't eat commercial bread and aren't fond of seafood...definitely get in touch with a dietitian or your GP to discuss your requirements as you may have a low iodine status. Taking a seaweed or kelp supplement may not be a good option...the margin between too much and too little iodine is very narrow and as the iodine content of some supplements can be quite variable, it's possible that supplements will push you beyond the safe upper limit of intake for iodine..
For a quick and tasty iodine hit, try our Nori Roll recipe. Spread hummus over half a nori seaweed sheet and lay vegetables sticks along it, then roll up and cut into 2. Easy, cheats sushi that is great as a snack or to pop in a lunchbox.