World Iodine Deficiency Day 2020: Salt is one of life's necessary elements, which our bodies cannot produce. Hence, it has to be consumed, within the recommended amount, through our diet. Salt has many health benefits and plays a very important role in our body across all major stages of the human life cycle. Let's look at the following major stages starting from pregnancy, infancy, childhood, middle age to old age to find out why salt is important across these major stages of the human life cycle.
Salt is by far the biggest dietary source of sodium, chloride, iodine and iron. Often, 'salt' and 'sodium' are considered to be one and the same. Sodium is an electrolyte that regulates the amount of water in our body. Salt, another name for which is Sodium Chloride, is needed when a person is suffering from sodium loss. This could be due to sweating in excess, dehydration, etc. Today, there are many variants of salt in the market and one must know the difference and the importance between them. A lot of salt available today is iodised as a preventive measure taken by the government to eliminate iodine deficiency in our country. The body does not make iodine, so it is essential to make it part of our daily diet as consumption of iodized salt is a healthy habit.
(Also Read: What is Iodised Salt? Is it the Only Way to Get Iodine in Your Diet?)
Salt is essential in the diet for multiple reasons.
Iodine For Pregnant Women
Despite the fact that the body only needs a tiny quantity of iodine in total in a lifetime, because the body cannot store it, small amounts need to be consumed frequently. Despite working towards eradicating iodine deficiency for the last three decades, the country still suffers from low iodine, especially women and children. During pregnancy, women's iodine requirements increase substantially to ensure sufficient supply to the fetus. Yet many women are unknowingly deficient in iodine due to the increased demand for iodine and thyroid hormones starting from the early weeks of pregnancy. While most mothers know the importance of nourishment in pregnancy, the awareness of the significance of iodine, which is needed for proper brain development of the baby in the womb, is low. As per the WHO and UNICEF, It is vital that all pregnant and lactating mothers get their daily requirement of iodine (250 mcg).
Iodine For Adolescents
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Iodine deficiency is the main cause of brain damage in childhood. The consequences of iodine deficiency are severe as it results in impaired cognitive and motor development which affects a child's performance at school. Young children are particularly at risk because their brain still needs iodine for its development during the first two years of life. Iodised salt plays a crucial role in the protection of newborn cognitive health, as well as protecting the brains of children from the devastating effects of iodine deficiency. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that children are getting sufficient iodine in their diets. As per the WHO and the Iodine Global Network (IGN (formerly ICCIDD)), the recommended amount of iodine for age 6-12 years is 120 mcg.
(Also Read: Iodine Rich Foods: 10 Best Dietary Sources)
Children require 120mcg of Iodine as per the WHO.
Iodine And Lifestyle Diseases (Diabetes And High Blood Pressure)
When a person reaches the mid-level of the human life cycle, they face many life challenges. Stressful lifestyles coupled with altered food habits have led to an exponential increase in the occurrence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure among the urban population. Hypertension or high blood pressure frequently referred to as a silent killer, is a widespread health concern in urban India. It can be kept in check by monitoring the ingestion of sodium as well as a healthy lifestyle. There is 15% low sodium salt available in the market today that are specially designed to provide consumers with a convenient means to take preventive measures towards keeping the blood pressure in check.
Iodine For Senior Citizens
The low sodium salt is also effective for the elderly population but they need to consult with their doctors before as the volume of water in the body continues to decrease with age and they are more prone to low blood sodium (hyponatremia), especially those who are under medications.
A pinch of iodised salt can give us freedom from various iodine deficiency disorders. So, this World Iodine Deficiency Day (2020), let us ensure we get our daily consumption of adequately iodised salt for a healthy mind and body.
About Author: Dr. Mini Nampoothiri is a consultant, obstetrics and gynaecologist at Apollo Hospitals.
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