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Adv Nutr. 2013 Sep 1;4(5):533-5. doi: 10.3945/an.113.004192.

Iodine insufficiency: a global health problem?

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Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


As a result of collaborative efforts with international organizations and the salt industry, many developing and developed countries practice universal salt iodization (USI) or have mandatory salt fortification programs. As a consequence, the prevalence of iodine deficiency decreased dramatically. The United States and Canada are among the few developed countries that do not practice USI. Such an undertaking would require evidence of deficiency among vulnerable population groups, including pregnant women, newborns, and developing infants. Government agencies in the United States rely heavily on data from NHANES to assess the iodine status of the general population and pregnant women in particular. NHANES data suggest that pregnant women in the United States remain mildly deficient. This is important, because the developing fetus is dependent on maternal iodine intake for normal brain development throughout pregnancy. Professional societies have recommended that pregnant and lactating women, or those considering pregnancy, consume a supplement providing 150 μg iodine daily. The United States and Canada collaborate on the daily recommended intake and are also confronted with the challenge of identifying the studies needed to determine if USI is likely to be beneficial to vulnerable population groups without exposing them to harm.

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