Disinfectants used to sanitize cow udder may provide a source of iodine for dairy consumers but can also increase the concentration of pus in milk from cows with staph infection mastitis.
The mineral iodine is important for thyroid function, but during pregnancy is critical for fetal neurological development. Even a mild deficiency can impair cognitive ability.
The derogatory word cretin, was originally a medical term describing those with stunted physical and mental development due to an untreated congenital iodine deficiency. It remains one of the most common preventable cause of brain damage worldwide, because of iodine deficient soil, which is why most table salt is iodized.
“Iodine can also be found in dairy products due to iodine supplementation of cattle feed and it leaches into the milk from the use of iodine containing disinfectants to wash the udders, dip the teats, and clean the milk tanks out with. Dipping the teats in iodine can decrease the bacteria concentration, but in cows with staph mastitis can actually increase the pus content in milk as much as 60%. Regardless, “The iodine content of dairy products contributed by sanitizing products may not be well regulated and may not be a nondeliberate source of iodine, but it is a source of iodine nonetheless.
These considerations therefore “raise concerns about the iodine status of pregnant women and women of reproductive age who are not consuming dairy products.” So, last year they concluded, “Iodine levels among U.S. women should be monitored, particularly among subgroups at risk.” Good idea, so this year they did it: “Iodine Status and Thyroid Function of Boston-Area Vegetarians and Vegans.” How did they do?
One way to measure iodine status is with a urine test. The World Health Organization recommends we should average a 100 micrograms more in our urine, unless we’re pregnant in which case we’d really like to see it up around 150. This is where vegetarians came out, not bad: “U.S. vegetarians are iodine sufficient.”
What about the vegans? 78.5. That’s not good. The findings suggest that U.S. vegans may be at risk for iodine intake.Therefore: “vegan women of child-bearing age should supplement with 150mcg of iodine daily.”
The best new resource for those planning a plant-based pregnancy is probably Vegan for Life by Norris and Messina, released July 2011.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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For details on exactly how much iodine we need and the practical tips on the best way to get iodine (without the pus), check out one of my earlier videos: Avoiding Iodine Deficiency.