Iodine is an essential micronutrient required for normal growth and neurodevelopment; thus, an adequate intake of iodine is particularly important for pregnant and lactating women, and throughout childhood. Low levels of iodine in the soil and groundwater are common in many parts of the world, often leading to diets that are low in iodine. Widespread salt iodization has eradicated severe iodine deficiency, but mild-to-moderate deficiency is still prevalent even in many developed countries. To understand patterns of iodine intake and to develop strategies for improving intake, it is important to characterize all sources of dietary iodine, and national databases on the iodine content of major dietary contributors (including foods, beverages, water, salts, and supplements) provide a key information resource. This paper discusses the importance of well-constructed databases on the iodine content of foods, beverages, and dietary supplements; the availability of iodine databases worldwide; and factors related to variability in iodine content that should be considered when developing such databases. We also describe current efforts in iodine database development in the United States, the use of iodine composition data to develop food fortification policies in New Zealand, and how iodine content databases might be used when considering the iodine intake and status of individuals and populations.
Keywords: database; dietary supplements; food; food composition; iodine.