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Iodine concentration of milk-alternative drinks available in the UK in comparison with cows’ milk

  • Sarah C. Bath (a1), Sarah Hill (a2), Heidi Goenaga Infante (a2), Sarah Elghul (a1), Carolina J. Nezianya (a1) and Margaret P. Rayman (a1)...


Iodine deficiency is present in certain groups of the UK population, notably in pregnant women; this is of concern as iodine is required for fetal brain development. UK milk is rich in iodine and is the principal dietary iodine source. UK sales of milk-alternative drinks are increasing but data are lacking on their iodine content. As consumers may replace iodine-rich milk with milk-alternative drinks, we aimed to measure the iodine concentration of those available in the UK. Using inductively coupled plasma-MS, we determined the iodine concentration of seven types of milk-alternative drink (soya, almond, coconut, oat, rice, hazelnut and hemp) by analysing forty-seven products purchased in November/December 2015. For comparison, winter samples of conventional (n 5) and organic (n 5) cows’ milk were included. The median iodine concentration of all of the unfortified milk-alternative drinks (n 44) was low, at 7·3 μg/kg, just 1·7 % of our value for winter conventional cows’ milk (median 438 μg/kg). One brand (not the market leader), fortified its soya, oat and rice drinks with iodine and those drinks had a higher iodine concentration than unfortified drinks, at 280, 287 and 266 μg/kg, respectively. The iodine concentration of organic milk (median 324 μg/kg) was lower than that of conventional milk. Although many milk-alternative drinks are fortified with Ca, at the time of this study, just three of forty-seven drinks were fortified with iodine. Individuals who consume milk-alternative drinks that are not fortified with iodine in place of cows’ milk may be at risk of iodine deficiency unless they consume alternative dietary iodine sources.

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Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Professor M. P. Rayman, fax +44 1483 686401, email


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