Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. Iodine is found in various foods (seaweed, sea fish). If you do not have enough iodine in your body, you cannot make enough thyroid hormone. Thus, iodine deficiency can lead to enlargement of the thyroid (goiter) and to intellectual disabilities in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.

Prevention of iodine deficiency by the introduction of iodized salt has virtually eliminated iodine deficiency and the so-called “goiter belt” in many areas. However, many other parts of the world far away from oceans with fish and seaweed, do not have enough iodine available through their diet and iodine deficiency continues to be an important public health problem globally. Approximately 30% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency.

Iodine Deficiency

Global household coverage of iodized salt increased dramatically during the 1990s from less than 10% to 66%. … Among 128 countries with available data on iodized salt, household coverage is greater than 90% in 37 countries, 50–90% in 52 countries and less than 50% in 39 countries.

In 2017, only 19 countries remain vulnerable to iodine deficiency: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Finland, Haiti, Israel, Italy, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of (DPRK), Lebanon, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Russia, Samoa, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Vietnam. In 2017, iodine status data were available for 142 countries, covering more than 97% of the world’s population.

More information? Check the 2017 Report at the website of the Iodine Global Network