Salt is a very common seasoning and is essential to our health, but do you know why there are iodized and non-iodized salts? More importantly, what does “iodized” mean?
Also spelled as iodised, it is simply a table salt with the added chemical element iodine. To understand what an iodized salt is, let us first identify what iodine is.
- Iodine – Derived from the Greek word ‘ἰοειδής ioeidēs (Meaning purple or Violet due to the color of iodine vapor), is a natural element with the symbol I and atomic number 53. It is an essential nutrient for we humans to prevent health problems such as IDD or Iodine Deficiency Disorder that is said to be the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world. It mainly affects the body’s most vital functions such as the development of the brain and body, and the maintenance of its temperature. More specifically, it adds the necessary chemicals for the thyroid gland to produce certain hormones. Iodine can be found in sea and soil that’s been touched by the sea. In that context, it can be found in lobsters, shrimps, haddocks, trout and sea vegetables.
So taking the meaning of iodine as our reference, we can safely say that an iodized salt is a regular salt, but with health benefits. Although iodized salt may be beneficial to us, a new study shows that too much intake can cause a condition similar to iodine deficiency (subclinical version), but in a milder form.
The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance) of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms (µg), or 200-300 micrograms for pregnant women.
Also known as table salt, it is a commonly used condiment and food preservative that is often present on the table during meals to sprinkle on food. Chemically speaking on the other hand, a non-iodized salt is a refined salt that contains about 97 to 99 percent sodium chloride (ionic compound with chemical formula NaCl). It is produced by refining a mined salt where it is first dissolved in water, purified of other minerals out of the solution, and then re-evaporated. The same process is used for iodized salt, only with an added process where iodine is added.
While the answer is obviously the element iodine, it still asks the question ‘WHY’.
In terms of health, iodized salt clearly gives the advantage by simply having the element iodine. Iodine deficiency (this includes goiter, cretinism, and intellectual disability) is very common and iodized salt can help prevent them.
In terms of taste, by popular belief, an iodized salt has a poor flavor compared to a non-iodized salt. Members of the food industry however disagree, stating that there is no difference between the two. Scientific studies have investigated this issue and found that the change of flavor is insignificant.
In terms of production, they both require the same processes. Only the post-production addition (adding of the iodine) on iodized salts makes it different.
So to answer the question ‘WHY’, it is mainly to prevent people from having iodine deficiency.
|Iodized Salt||Non-Iodized Salt|
|Contains the element iodine||Does not contain the element iodine|
|More health benefits||Some health benefits|
|Said to have less flavor||Said to have more flavor|
Here is a video explaining why iodine is added to salt.