Red salt from Himalayas, view from above. (Photo by: Eddy Buttarelli/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
The Historic Reason Iodine Is Added To Table Salt
Salt has been used to preserve meat since the days of ancient Egypt, but the now common practice of adding iodine to the seasoning has only been around for 100 years. While the addition of iodine doesn’t add much flavor, its existence plays an important role in the health of those who consume it.
In the 1920s, iodine began to be added to salt to address thyroid issues and goiters — an irregular growth of the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the neck — that plagued the population. In fact, goiters were so prevalent among children before the 1920s that an area comprising the Great Lakes, Appalachians, and the Northwest was nicknamed the "goiter belt."
David Cowie, chairman of the Pediatrics Department at the University of Michigan, called upon the U.S. to start adding iodine to salt. It was in Michigan that salt first began to be sold with iodine added to it in 1924, greatly reducing the iodine deficiency in the United States — but it still remains a problem around the world, with 2.2 billion people still eating iodine-deficient diets.