Purpose Even mild iodine deficiency may negatively affect cognitive performance, especially at a young age. Our aim was to investigate iodine status in very young children and to assess the importance of iodized salt in processed foods as an example for a country with voluntary salt iodization.
Methods 24-h urinary iodine excretion (UIE) as a marker of iodine intake was measured in 378 repeatedly collected 24-h urine samples (2003–2010) of 221 3-< 6 year old participants of the DONALD Study. Parallel 3-d weighed dietary records and measurements of urinary sodium excretion provided data on the daily consumption of the most important iodine providers in the children’s diet (iodized salt, milk, fish, meat and eggs). Time trends of UIE (2003–2010) and contributions of the different food groups were analysed by using linear mixed-effects regression models.
Results Median UIE of 71 µg/d in boys and 65 µg/d in girls, corresponding to an iodine intake of 82 and 75 µg/d, respectively (assumption: 15% non renal iodine losses) was below the WHO intake recommendations of 90 µg/d. Milk, salt and egg intake were significant predictors of UIE; milk and salt together accounted for >80% of iodine supply. Between 2003 and 2010, UIE decreased significantly by approximately 1 µg/year. The contribution of salt intake to UIE decreased from 03–06 to 07–10.
Conclusion In countries where salt is a major iodine provider, already modest decreases in the iodized proportion of salt used in processed foods may relevantly impair iodine status even in preschool children.
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