Over the past decade or two, many people have come to believe that sea salt has significant health benefits over the common table salt that has long been familiar in salt shakers. Sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water, while table salt is mined. (You have heard of salt mines, haven’t you?)
As a result, sea salt contains a variety of minerals in addition to basic sodium chloride. The exact makeup may change depending on the original sea water. The resulting product may be a distinctive color, and some people claim they can taste the difference. Most people can recognize the texture of coarse or flaky sea salt and some prefer it. Salt from the sea usually contains only traces of iodine, however, in comparison to iodized table salt.
What Are You Missing with Sea Salt?
Q. Our family has been using sea salt for several years. We do not have thyroid problems. Should we continue with this salt or go back to iodized salt?
A. Common table salt is often iodized as a public health measure to prevent goiter. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function and also for healthy brain development in the fetus and young infant. That’s why the World Health Organization recommends that all countries provide iodized salt for their populations as a way of making sure that everyone gets adequate amounts of this crucial mineral.
Although sea salt doesn’t always contain iodine, some brands of sea salt are iodized. If you prefer the texture or taste of sea salt, you might look for the iodized variety.
Iodine in the American Diet:
In the U.S., fortification of any salt with iodine is voluntary rather than mandatory (Nutrients, Nov., 2012). (Consequently, shoppers should read labels when selecting salt.)
Americans get a majority of their iodine from dairy products, seafood and occasionally bread. Some of this iodine is introduced accidentally. For example, iodine-containing compounds are used to clean milking equipment and bread may be made with iodine-containing dough conditioners.
Does this mean that iodized salt is irrelevant? Probably not: Recent studies suggest that between one-fifth and two-fifths of the most vulnerable Americans, pregnant women, are not getting sufficient iodine (Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, online Nov. 3, 2016).