The World Health Organization warns of the danger of iodine deficiency when consuming small amounts of dairy products.

The World Health Organization warns of the danger of iodine deficiency when consuming small amounts of dairy products.


The increasing popularity and availability of plant-based alternatives to major sources of iodine, such as milk, dairy products and fish, is contributing to insufficient and low iodine intake in countries in the European region, according to a WHO report published yesterday by WHO Europe and the International Iodine Network (IGN).


Milk and dairy products are important sources of iodine in many Western and Central European countries, especially for children. Many animal feeds and nutritional supplements are fortified with iodine to improve farm animal health and milk production.

However, dairy consumption is declining among adolescents and adults, increasing the risk of iodine deficiency. Iodine intake is especially important for fetal brain development before and during pregnancy.

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“The shift to plant-based milk alternatives, especially among women, who already have a higher risk of iodine deficiency and thyroid disease than men, raises concerns about their iodine nutrition, especially in countries that rely on milk as a source of iodine,” said Hans-Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Most milk alternatives do not contain iodine.”

Salt iodization remains the main strategy for ensuring adequate iodine intake on the continent, but it is also influenced by changes in diet and lifestyle. Thus, foods produced outside the home, such as bread, processed meats or ready-to-eat meals, are today the main sources of salt in the Western diet, accounting for between 70% and 80% of total consumption.

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