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Paleo Diet Linked to Iodine Deficiency

The paleo diet is a popular diet that focuses on consuming unprocessed meats and vegetables. It also excludes table salt and dairy products. A recent study suggests that the paleo diet may be associated with a higher risk of iodine deficiency.


Participants in the study included 70 postmenopausal overweight or obese women who were assigned to consume either a paleo diet or a diet following the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations for two years. Dietary iodine intake, 24-hour urinary iodine concentration, free thyroxin, free triiodothyronine and thyrotropin  were measured at baseline, 6 and 24 months.


At the beginning of the study, both groups had similar iodine levels, as measured by a 24-hour urinary iodine concentration and 24-hour urinary iodine excretion. 24-hour median urinary iodine concentration was 71.0??g/l and median 24-hour urinary iodine excretion was 134.0??g/d.


The researchers noted decreases in iodine levels in the paleo group almost immediately. Median levels for the paleo group at the 6-month mark were 36.0??g/l for 24-hour median urinary iodine concentration and 77.0??g/d for 24-hour urinary iodine excretion.


Slight increases were seen between the six-month and two-year period, however, levels did not return to levels noted at the beginning of the study, nor did they ever match those of the Nordic Diet group. The researchers hypothesized that the increase in levels was due to poor compliance with the diet as the study period progressed.


Researchers from Kungälv’s Hospital and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 13, 2017, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Iodine has been added to salt since 1924 because it’s an essential nutrient that our bodies can’t synthesize so it has to be obtained from food sources. Previous studies have shown that iodine helps prevent goiters and aids in thyroid function.


In addition to table salt, iodine can be found in sea vegetables, cranberries, yogurt, strawberries, and potatoes.

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