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Iodine supplementation ... irradiation.

Q. Since I have cut back on my salt intake, do I need to take an iodine supplement?

A. Most people get enough iodine in their diets to prevent deficiency. Iodine is present in many foods, as well as in iodized salt.

Iodine is needed for proper thyroid function, and iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and goiter (ah enlarged thyroid gland). Deficiency in a pregnant woman's diet can cause abnormal brain development in the fetus, and iodine deficiency during infancy can interfere with normal brain development. For these reasons, iodine has been added to table salt to prevent deficiencies.

Iodized salt is the type most commonly used as table salt. In the United States, iodized salt contains an average of 75 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per one-quarter teaspoon. For adults age 19 and older, the recommended daily intake of iodine is 150 mcg.

Some foods contain iodine, although the amount varies. Most of the earth's iodine is found in oceans, so ocean-caught or ocean-farmed fish and shellfish, such as cod, shrimp, sea bass, haddock and tuna, tend to be rich in iodine. Milk and yogurt often contain significant amounts of iodine--up to half the daily requirement--if they are made from cows whose feed is iodine-fortified. And some vegetables, including potatoes and beans, are good sources of iodine if they are grown in iodine-rich soil, which is found primarily in coastal areas.

If you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, check the label; it probably contains iodine.

If you're concerned about your iodine level, discuss it with your doctor. A blood test can determine your iodine level and your doctor can recommend an appropriate supplement if it's needed.

Q. What is irradiation? Is irradiated food safe to eat?

A. Food irradiation is a process in which foods are exposed to radiant energy, including gamma rays, electron beams, and x-rays. Food is irradiated to control spoilage and eliminate foodborne pathogens that can cause illness, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must give approval before foods can be irradiated. Meat and poultry are the foods most commonly irradiated, but the FDA also allows the irradiation of wheat and wheat powder, white potatoes, many spices, dry vegetable seasonings, eggs, and fresh produce. Irradiation is not allowed for certified organic foods.

According to the FDA, irradiated food is safe. Foods do not become "radioactive" when exposed to radiant energy, since the energy passes through the food but does not come into direct contact with the food.

All irradiated foods have to be labeled as such; look for the phrases "treated with irradiation" or "with irradiation," as well as the radura, which is the international symbol for irradiation.

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Title Annotation:ASK DR. ETINGIN
Publication:Women's Nutrition Connection
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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