Iodine nutrition: iodine content of iodized salt in the United States

Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Feb 15;42(4):1315-23. doi: 10.1021/es0719071.


Adequacy of iodine nutrition in the United States has lately been of concern. A major source of dietary iodine for the U.S. population is iodized salt. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) recommends 60-100 mg Kl/kg salt, equivalent to 46-76 mg l/kg salt. All U.S. iodized salt contains 45 mg l/kg according to labels. We collected samples of table salt from freshly opened containers from U.S. volunteers. A sample was sent to us when the can was first purchased. Subsets of volunteers sent further samples when the salt container became half-empty through normal use and a further final sample when the container was nearly finished. We also looked at iodine distribution homogeneity within individual containers, loss of iodine from salt upon exposure to humidity and sunlight, and upon short-term heating (dry and in solution) as may be encountered in cooking. Measurements were made in 0.01% w/v salt solutions by induction coupled plasma-mass spectrometry with 72Ge as an internal standard. The median and mean (+/-sd) I content in freshly opened top-of-the-can salt samples was 44.1 and 47.5 +/- 18.5 mg/kg (n=88, range 12.7-129 mg l/kg) and geometric mean and standard deviation of 44.70 and 1.41. Forty-seven of 88 samples fell below the USFDA recommended I content while 6 exceeded it. The homogeneity in a single can of salt varied greatly: in 5 samples taken from the same container from different depths, the iodine content varied by as little as 1.2x (8.3% coefficient of variance (CV)) to as much as 3.3x (49.3% CV) from one container/brand to another. Iodine is significantly lost upon high humidity storage but light or dry heat has little effect. There is much recent literature on iodine sufficiency and uptake inhibitors; there is also much misinformation and disinformation. We review the relevant literature and discuss our results with reference to the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Hot Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Iodine / analysis*
  • Light
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / analysis*
  • United States


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • Iodine