The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizing the vital role of iodine in the development of infants’ nervous systems is encouraging news, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
The academy released a policy statement on May 26 that cited a growing problem with iodine deficiency. In the past, iodized table salt has been the primary way to address potential deficiencies, but that is no longer as effective as it has been the academy said. “Most of the salt in the U.S. diet is from processed foods, and that salt is not iodized. As consumption of processed foods has increased, so has the level of iodine deficiency, with about one-third of pregnant women in the U.S. being deficient,” the academy said. The academy therefore recommends that pregnant and lactating women take a supplement containing iodide, a form of iodine that is easily absorbed by the body.
“CRN urges vitamin and supplement manufacturers to review and consider the specific recommendations with regard to dose and iodine form, and our association will be taking these recommendations under advisement to discuss with our member companies,” said Duffy MacKay, CRN’s senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs.
Folic acid redux
MacKay said the iodine story is reminiscent of what happened with folic acid.
“Several decades ago, when folic acid was found to play a critical role in reducing neural tube birth defects, like spina bifida, the scientific research and public policy communities, non-profit groups like the March of Dimes, and industry partnered with government to firmly establish and communicate recommendations for folic acid that resulted in significant reductions in neural tube birth defects. Those recommendations include the suggestion that women of childbearing age take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. We see similarities between the folic acid story and what is now happening with iodine, and hope that the same groundswell will develop for educating women of childbearing age of the critical importance of iodine in helping ensure optimal cognitive development in babies,” he said.