Salty Thoughts on a Snowy Day

Posted in Susan Fekety on January 18th, 2010 by susanfekety
Unless otherwise noted, © Copyright 2010 by Susan Fekety. All Rights Reserved.

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. day and I’m delighted to find myself snugged up in my house while a blustery snowfall accumulates outside. I guess I missed the memo-I had no idea we were in for this (not that I mind!) Hope to get my snowshoes out before it gets dark.

All this precipitous white stuff made me want to offer a couple thoughts about the salt thing. Did you catch the news a couple of weeks ago that the folks in New York City (well, some of them) are fomenting a voluntary program wherein food manufacturers who sell things there will reduce the sodium content of their offerings by 25 per cent over the next five years? Thinking that there will be an effect on the problems we have with stroke and heart disease thereby? Oh, the canned-goods and frozen-foods folks are vexed, rolling their eyes heavenward. It’s not what consumers want, evidently.

Now - I think the evidence is pretty slim for sodium restriction in general, so I don’t really mind that this is a pretty limp-wristed initiative (25 percent? Over five years? Voluntary? Are they serious?) but it did make me think about something related that I DO want to put on your radar screen - and that’s the growing concern we are having about people coming up short on the essential trace mineral iodine.

What’s the connection to the salt story? In the US, most folks get most of their iodine from iodized salt and….well, if you conscientiously whack your salt consumption back, and eat super low on the food chain, you might set yourself up for this ironic unfortunate outcome. Iodine is needed to keep your thyroid hormones functioning the way they should, and in pregnancy, fetal brain function is particularly sensitive to iodine deficiency. This is not a minor nutrient.

I’ll be writing about this more in my next newsletter - but here’s a starter thought for you. If you are one of those health conscious folks who rarely eats fish (great source of iodine), cooks from scratch at home and has converted almost entirely to sea salt (doesn’t have much iodine), you might actually be shorting yourself on this essential nutrient unless you can cultivate a taste for sea vegetables. (You can get it in your multivitamin but it’s always better to get stuff in Mother Nature’s package, no?) Iodine deficiency may be the next “big thing” on our nutritional hotspot list (now that we have a good awareness about Vitamin D, the last big thing but still news for many.) For now, if you stumble across a little seaweed salad, you might want to have at least a taste!

Here’s a link to an article I wrote a couple of years ago about the sodium restriction hypothesis:

Be nice to your body! Susan

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