Iodized vs. Uniodized Salt
For years there has been a great deal of hype surrounding both iodized and uniodized salt. Granted that neither is strictly worse than the other and the role it plays in one’s health generally depends on what the salt is being used for. Although most of us enjoy salt in our food—in a form commonly referred to as “table salt”—different variations of salt serve different purposes. Some bath and body products such as body scrubs and exfoliates also use salt. We are going to take a look at the major differences between iodized and uniodized salt and what each one should be used for.
Iodized salt is by far the most common form of salt around. This is a salt (typically “table” grade) that has been supplemented with a small amount of dietary iodine. As a general rule, the amount of iodine contained in iodized salt is so small that it does not usually pose a health risk to individuals. In fact, the human body does require certain levels of this micronutrient. Studies have shown that iodine deficiency is one of the leading preventable causes behind mental retardation and this deficiency affects an estimated two billion people in the world. Pregnant women are at particular risk of failing to maintain proper iodine levels within the body. Adding iodine to everyday table salt is a cheap and effective way to combat the chances of developing an iodine deficiency.
What Does Iodine Do?
Iodine is a micronutrient that occurs naturally in many foods. Iodine is particularly important to the thyroid gland in humans because the thyroid absorbs iodine from the blood in order to create and release certain vital hormones. These hormones are particularly necessary in the regulation of one’s metabolism, or the process of converting and using energy in an everyday environment. Iodine also plays an important role in lactation, salivary gland operation, oral and gastric mucous formation, thymus functionality, and even the health of our skin.
Although most of the wealthier nations in the world have solved iodine deficiency problems by supplementing table salt with iodine, there are still a few nations that struggle with this issue. Iodine deficiency produces a variety of symptoms, including enlargement of the thyroid gland which often leads to choking or difficulty swallowing and breathing. If iodine levels are left to lower, an individual may develop hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid is underactive and fails to produce enough hormones on its own. There is no cure for this condition and it is usually a life-long affliction once developed. In pregnant women an iodine deficiency could cause preterm delivery, stillbirth, miscarriage, and developmental abnormalities such as retardation.
Although iodized salt is the most common type of salt around, it is best put to use in preparing food.
Uniodized salt is salt that has not been supplemented with iodine. This salt is “natural” and often referred to as “sea salt”, although there are many brands of sea salt products that have been supplemented with iodine. Uniodized salt is available in the “table” form, but is often more difficult to find. This would be ideally used by an individual whose iodine levels are too high, probably by consuming a lot of food that is high in iodine. Uniodized salt in the form of sea salt (or that which is obtained through the evaporation of sea water) is very popular in the use of cosmetics such as facial and body scrubs. The coarse texture of the salt allows for the gentle and effective removal of dead skin cells and debris.
As you can see, the basic difference between the two salts is that one contains iodine and the other does not. Again, iodized salt is not healthier or less healthy than uniodized salt unless an individual suffers from having too much iodine in their system. Many grocery stores carry both types of salt in the baking or condiments sections.