Iodine Status over Two Decades: Influence of Seaweed Exposure

Ir Med J. 2016 Jun 10;109(6):421.


Iodine deficiency is known to result in deficits in neuropsychological development in children born to iodine deficient mothers. However, a remedy in terms of iodisation of table salt as is the norm in most countries, has not been embraced by Ireland. The borderline iodine status of the Irish population persists unchanged over the past 20 years with the annual median urinary iodine (UI) varying from 62.9 to 105 μg/L; overall median 72.4 μg/L (WHO recommended 100 μg/L). Exposure to a seaweed rich environment allowing for intake by respiration of seaweed derived gaseous iodine, rather than simple proximity to the sea, confers advantages in terms of iodine intake with 21/46 (45.6%) of schoolchildren in seaweed rich coastal areas having UI values > 150 μg/L compared to 1/28 (3.6 %) and 2/93 (2.2%) in low seaweed abundant coastal and inland areas respectively. The corresponding values for adult females were 31/72 (43%), 7/60 (11.6%) and 21/132 (16.0%). The findings support introduction of iodine prophylaxis through Universal Salt Iodisation (USI), to ensure that women of child bearing age have access to sufficient dietary iodine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine / administration & dosage*
  • Iodine / deficiency
  • Iodine / urine
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seaweed / chemistry*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Time Factors


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • Iodine