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Want to ensure your body has enough iodine? Use iodized salt

Inside every Filipino kitchen, there's a good chance you'll find a pack of iodized salt for cooking.

This, thanks primarily to the Philippines' ASIN Law or an Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide, signed as Republic Act No. 8172 in 1995 by then President Fidel V. Ramos, that aims to promote the use of iodized salt to address the lack of micronutrients in the country. It also requires all salt manufacturers to iodize the salts they produce and distribute.

Iodized salt is salt that has had iodine added to it. The main advantage of iodized salt is that it can help prevent iodine deficiency, which can lead to goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland) and other health problems. Iodine is an essential nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to function properly. It is particularly important for the proper development of the brain and nervous system in fetuses and infants. Additionally, iodized salt is also helpful in preventing iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) such as hypothyroidism, cretinism, and mental retardation.

However, there seems to be a need to have more clarification regarding what iodized salt truly is and whether or not it should be a part of the diet, although it is a household staple.

According to a study done by the Department of Science and Technology - Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) in 2018-2019, only 6 out of 10 (59.5%) Filipino households use Iodized Salt, even though 7 out of 10 (67.3%) Filipino households are aware of it. In contrast, only 36.0% of Filipino households use iodized salt adequately.  

While around 52.5% of meal planners, on the other hand, perceive iodized salt as something clean or refined. While only 47.5% are aware of its benefits: 28.1% prevent goiter, 16.5% added with iodine, 14.3% good for the body, 4.7% good for the brain, and 0.8% good for pregnant mothers.

If you don't eat a lot of seafood, fresh milk products, or eggs, iodized salt is the simplest way to ensure enough iodine is in your diet.

There may be a few challenges associated with the use of iodized salt, however. One is that some people may be allergic to iodine, and consuming iodized salt could cause an allergic reaction in these individuals. Another challenge is that some people may consume too much iodine if they use iodized salt excessively in their food, which can lead to iodine toxicity and related health problems.

Finally, a more recent challenge is that some people are reducing their salt intake for health reasons, such as to lower their risk of heart disease, and may avoid consuming iodized salt as a result. This can make it more difficult for these people to get enough iodine in their diet.

However, studies show that a lack of iodine in the body may cause goiter or the enlargement of thyroid glands, neurodevelopmental deficits and growth retardation in the fetus, miscarriage, and stillbirth, mental retardation, hypothyroidism, cretinism, increased morbidity and mortality of infants, and impaired cognitive development.

The good news is that taking enough iodine can help you prevent all these disorders by maintaining normal thyroid function and thus enhancing your mood, energy, and memory.

Local Government Units (LGUs) in National Capital Region (NCR), such as Pasig City, ensure that Pasigueños get enough iodine by passing the Pasig City Ordinance No. 54, series of 2022 that grants sari-sari store owners who earn not more than P250,000 annually and sells food items labeled with the Sangkap Pinoy logo, which is given to producers that add iron, vitamin A, and iodine to their goods, get a special tax-free permit.

Through these approaches, the government, private businesses, and other stakeholders help in protecting and promoting the health of Filipinos, maintain an effective food regulatory system, and assist in providing the entire population, especially women and children, with proper nutrition. (PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

Information Officer I

National Capital Region

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