Q. How important is iodized salt to the American or European diet?
A. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, tests have shown that the population in the United States is “iodine sufficient.” Most Americans who eat a varied diet get enough iodine even if they don’t use iodized salt. They are at little risk of iodine deficiency, which can lead to goiters (swollen thyroid glands in the neck) and dwarfism and is a leading cause of mental impairment worldwide.
However, some pregnant women are at risk of low iodine levels, which potentially endanger their babies. The need for iodine increases during pregnancy, and women who do not eat dairy products or do not take the vitamin supplements that doctors typically prescribe are at risk.
Other than iodized salt, sources of iodine include fish, dairy products, grains (including bread) and fruits and vegetables. Fish get it from the ocean floor and seaweed, and plants get it from growing in soil with iodine in it. That’s why it is present in the grass that cows eat, which then shows...