Milk, dairy products, and fish are the main sources of iodine in the UK. Plant-based products are increasingly popular, especially with young women, which may affect iodine intake as they are naturally low in iodine; this is concerning as iodine is required for fetal brain development. The authors aimed to:
(i) assess the iodine fortification of products sold as alternatives to milk, yoghurt, cheese and fish through a cross-sectional survey of UK retail outlets in 2020, and
(ii) model the impact of substitution with such products on iodine intake, using portion-based scenarios.
They identified 300 products, including plant-based alternatives to: (i) milk (n 146); (ii) yoghurt (n 76); (iii) cheese (n 67) and (iv) fish (n 11).
After excluding organic products (n 48), which cannot be fortified, only 28 % (n 29) of milk alternatives and 6 % (n 4) of yoghurt alternatives were fortified with iodine, compared with 88 % (n 92) and 73 % (n 51), respectively, with Ca. No cheese alternative was fortified with iodine, but 55 % were fortified with Ca. None of the fish alternatives were iodine fortified. Substitution of three portions of dairy product (milk/yoghurt/ cheese) per day with unfortified alternatives would reduce the iodine provided by 97·9 % (124 v. 2·6 μg) and substantially reduce the contribution to the adult intake recommendation (150 μg/d; 83 v. 1·8 %).
The tudy highlights that the majority of plant-based alternatives are not iodine fortified and that the use of unfortified alternatives put consumers at risk of iodine deficiency.
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