When you think of iodine—the chemical element that helps your body produce thyroid hormones and regulate energy—you probably associate it with table salt. That’s because back in the 1920s, researchers discovered that people in certain areas of the country were developing goiters, or enlarged thyroid glands, due to iodine deficiency.
The solution? The US government advised some companies to start adding iodine to salt—and the intervention helped a lot. “Overall, as a country, we have been iodine sufficient since the 1940s,” says Elizabeth Pearce, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, and deputy regional coordinator for the Americas at Iodine Global Network, an organization for the sustainable elimination of iodine deficiency worldwide.
Excerpted from Prevention