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Salt iodine levels to be reduced next year
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China's Ministry of Health will reduce the iodine content in salt from next year in response to suspicions that iodized salt may be held responsible for the recent rise in thyroid diseases, the People's Daily  reported on Thursday.

The whole country's current iodine nutrition level is appropriate, while a few regions are rich in iodine, according to the health experts.

This adjustment plan is still being worked out and will be unveiled in the first half of 2010. It will focus on reducing the content of iodine in salt which allows its density to be more suitable.

For some iodine-deficient areas, the provincial level health department will make adjustments according to their own conditions and the Ministry of Health will support the adjustments.

This plan will be more scientific as it reflects that the standard is in accordance with the local conditions. For some iodine-rich areas and high-incidence areas of thyroid disease, competent authorities will stop supplying iodized salt. As for the recent surge in thyroid ailments, solid evidence of an explicit link with the iodized salt is yet to be established, according to experts.

A daily intake of 150 to 300 micrograms salt is safe for an adult, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The iodine content in Chinese iodized salt is 30 milligrams per kilogram and as an adults daily intake measure 5 to 10 grams of salt per day, the daily iodine intake is 150 to 300 micrograms which is in line with the WHO's safety criterion.

China was previously one of the world's most iodine-deficient countries and the government started an iodized salt program in 1995.

From 1995 to 2005, the average intelligence quotient (IQ) of Chinese children has risen 12 percent. And by 2006, the threat of hypogenetic brain disorder caused by iodine deficiency, which has affected the Chinese for centuries, was at its lowest ever.

(CRI August 14, 2009)

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