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Eur J Nutr. 2014;53(2):351-65. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0597-4. Epub 2013 Nov 2.

Influencing factors on iodine content of cow milk.

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Institute of Animal Nutrition, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Bundesallee 50, 38116, Brunswick, Germany.



Iodine is an essential trace element for humans and animals, and it is incorporated into the thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which have multiple functions in energy metabolism and growth, but also as transmitter of nervous stimuli and as an important factor for brain development. Because of the small range between iodine requirements and the upper level for humans (between 1:2.5 and 3), the requirements should be met, but excesses should be avoided. One of the most important iodine sources for humans is milk of ruminants. Therefore, various influencing factors on the iodine content of milk of ruminants should be analyzed in the paper.


The iodine content of milk depends on many factors, such as iodine content and level of iodine supplementation of feed, iodine source, iodine antagonists such as glucosinolates in the feed, farm management, teat dipping with iodine-containing substances, and milk processing in the dairy. The effects of some factors on the iodine content of milk are demonstrated and discussed. Feed iodine supplementation has the main effect on milk iodine. However, the iodine content of milk may vary considerably depending on many other influencing factors.


As a consequence of preventive consumer protection, the European Food Safety Authority proposed a reduction in the iodine upper level for lactating ruminants from 5 to 2 mg/kg complete feed.

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