December 5, 2021

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Study finds excessive iodine status in macroalgae consumers

Iodine is an essential micronutrient required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Marine foods, such as fish and shellfish are naturally high in iodine due to the high iodine concentration in seawater and seaweed (aka macroalgae). Some countries enrich food stuffs with iodine, such as milk, dairy products and eggs.

During recent years, macroalgae has become increasingly popular in the western part of the world. In Europe, macroalgae represents a potential new dietary iodine source, and has also been considered as an especially healthy food or even “super food”. 

Although consumption of macroalgae has become increasingly popular in western countries during recent years, little is known about the iodine status and thyroid function in macroalgae consumers, although it is understood that both iodine deficiency and excess may increase the risk of developing a thyroid disorder​. As such, the European Food Safety Authorities (EFSA) has requested more knowledge on iodine content of dietary seaweed as well as data on macroalgae consumption.

The aim of the current study was to describe iodine intake and iodine status in a group of macroalgae consumers in Norway, and to report on parameters of thyroid function. This is the first study to examine iodine status and thyroid function among macroalgae consumers in Norway.

Convenience sampling was used to recruit 44 consumers of macroalgae during September, October and November 2019, including frequent macroalgae consumers, defined as habitual consumption of macroalgae on a weekly basis. 

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