Saturday, Nov 02, 2002
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By R. Sujatha
The National Institute of Nutrition Technology of Hyderabad has specified the amount of iodine and iron to be added to salt. Thirty ppm of iodine in the form of potassium iodate and 1200 ppm of iron are added to every kg of common salt. The country's tropical climate requires the use of potassium iodate, which on ingestion is rapidly reduced to iodide.
One gram of salt contains one mg of iron. A healthy adult needs 10-15 mg of iron a day. The absorption rate for iron in a normal adult is 10 per cent a day, but it differs in anaemic patients, according to TNSC officials. Iodine deficiency causes goitre and can affect brain development in the foetus and infant, impairing the child's learning abilities. Extreme deficiency leads to cretinism, a condition in which a child is unable to walk, talk or think normally.
The recommended average intake of iodine in India is 150 microgram (mcg) only per day, whereas in Japan it is 3,000 mcg. Studies by the American Medical Association on healthy adults, whose intake is 1,000 mcg, have found no adverse physiologic reactions.
On an average, the daily consumption of salt is 10 gm per person in India. Of the 150 mcg iodine added to salt, 30 per cent is lost in cooking. Only 105 mcg is ingested and the body absorbs only 70 per cent of this quantity. A recent seminar held here highlighted this aspect. Excess iodine is released through urine. Iodine-induced hyperthyroidism occurs particularly in older people, who are very deficient in iodine. In such cases, even if the intake is within the recommended 100-200 mcg, it can result in hyperthyroidism.
Officials say medical research has found that the entire country suffers from iodine deficiency and advocates the use of iodised salt. Sale of uniodised salt is banned in 24 States and seven union territories. Kerala has not imposed a ban, while it has been lifted in Gujarat, in 10 districts in Andhra Pradesh and 17 districts in Maharashtra. As a result, uniodised salt manufactured by big companies in these States is sold in the open market along with iodised salt in Tamil Nadu.
Iodised salt is now sold through the public distribution system, according to the corporation officials. About 40 per cent of below poverty line people buy crystal salt regularly from the PDS as salinity of this salt is better, say the officials. The corporation aims at increasing the number of BPL consumers from just 15 now to 25 by 2003.
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