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Will Sea Salt Increase Risk of Goiter?

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Q. My family has switched almost entirely to using sea salt in cooking. Are we now at greater risk of developing a goiter because we're not using iodized salt?

A. You are correct that sea salt contains minimal iodine. If you don't get iodine from other sources you might develop a goiter--an enlarged thyroid gland that is working overtime to produce thyroid hormone.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance of iodine is 150 micrograms per day for an adult. You can get adequate amounts by eating fish (cod, haddock, perch, shrimp, etc.), dairy products or baked potato. Kelp (seaweed) is highest in iodine, but this is an acquired taste. Many multivitamins contain iodine.

There is further discussion of goiter and thyroid disease in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. You will find an extended discussion of the pitfalls in treating hypothyroidism in Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.

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You can purchase iodized sea salt. Morton makes a version that is available at my local Publix grocery store.

We mix kelp powder with our sea salt..

There are different sea algaes and seaweed that you can use in salads, soups, and over dishes and don't have a strong flavor or 'different taste': dulse is one of them and even kelp you can get it in small flakes and don't have taste.

The are high in iodine and you don't need salt. And you should tell your family that the human body NEEDS SALT (the same as animals they also need salt), as long you take it in a reasonable manner, and not abuse it. Himalayan and other salts are high in many minerals very good and necessary for your body.

Since one family member is on a salt restricted diet, I no longer use iodized salt in cooking. The only table salt I have is sea salt in a grinder. Is my family in danger of not getting sufficient iodine?

R. Harrell

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