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The iodine content of Norwegian foods and diets

  • Lisbeth Dahl (a1), Lars Johansson (a2), Kåre Julshamn (a1) and Helle Margrete Meltzer (a3)



To examine dietary iodine sources and to estimate the dietary iodine intake of the Norwegian population.


Food iodine analyses carried out in Norway during the last 10 years were compiled, and iodine intake calculated on the basis of food intake data from nation-wide dietary surveys among children and adults. The food intake of adults was measured by a self-administrated food-frequency questionnaire, which covered habitual diet during the past year. The food intake of children was measured by dietary record during four consecutive days.


Neither household nor industrial iodisation of salt is mandatory in Norway, but some brands of table salt have 5 μg of iodine added per gram of NaCl. In spite of this, the population has been considered iodine-replete for decades, i.e. having an iodine intake well above the Recommended Dietary Allowance of 150 μg day−1. This assumption has not been substantiated by dietary surveys.


The adults included 1374 females and 1298 males aged 16–79 years. The children included 185 girls and 206 boys aged 4 years, 411 girls and 404 boys aged 9 years, and 517 girls and 492 boys aged 13 years.


The calculated iodine intake was in the range of 100–250 μg day−1 in the majority of the adult population. The mean iodine intake was 136 μg day−1 (170 μg I/10 MJ) among women and 176 μg day−1 (161 μg I/10 MJ) among men. For children the iodine intake was in the range of 100–120 μg day−1. Milk and dairy products contributed approximately 55% and 70% of the dietary iodine intake in adults and children, respectively. Fish contributed more than 20% of the iodine intake in adults and about 10% in children. The iodine contribution of drinking water was negligible.


While fish has the highest natural concentration of iodine and as such is an excellent iodine source, milk and diary products are the main determinants of iodine intake in the Norwegian population. Iodisation of cow fodder has been mandatory in Norway since 1950 and provides an efficient alternative to universal salt iodisation. Our results show that the dietary iodine intake of adults is in the range considered to be sufficient. The dietary intake of iodine was at recommended levels among the youngest children; however, it decreased among adolescents, especially among girls.

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The iodine content of Norwegian foods and diets

  • Lisbeth Dahl (a1), Lars Johansson (a2), Kåre Julshamn (a1) and Helle Margrete Meltzer (a3)


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