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Salt Fortification: Introduction

Iron and iodine fortified salt - the next breakthrough for tackling iodine and iron deficiency in the country.

Double Fortified Salt (DFS) is an innovative new fortified food product - delivering small but crucial amounts of iodine and iron to human beings through their diet. In general, DFS formulations are intended to provide 100% of daily dietary iodine requirement, and ~30 to 60% of daily dietary iron requirement. Dual fortification of salt with iodine and iron could be a sustainable approach to combat iodine and iron deficiencies. India?s National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has pioneered the development of double fortified salt (DFS). NIN has also taken the initiative to transfer the technology to iodized salt manufacturers in the country and provides continuous quality control support. The Micronutrient Initiative has developed DFS with encapsulated iron. In 2009, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has endorsed the addition of iron in double fortified salt at 0.8-1.1 ppm (mg/g of salt).

Fortification of Salt with Iodine

Every year nine million pregnant women and eight million newborns are at risk of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) in India. IDDs are linked to iodine deficient soil. Due to glaciations, flooding, rivers changing course and deforestation the iodine present in the top soil is constantly leached. This, in turn, leads to deficiency of iodine in crops grown on iodine deficient soil with consequently low iodine in the diet for livestock and humans. This deficiency of iodine in the diet can be addressed by fortification of salt i.e. adding iodine to salt. Salt has been identified as an effective vehicle for iodine because it is consumed almost daily and universally.

Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) comprise of a range of disorders including goitre, hypothyroidism, cretinism, brain damage, intellectual disability, psychomotor defects, hearing and speech impairment, abortion and stillbirths. Intelligent Quotient (IQ) Children born in iodine deficient areas have 13.5 IQ points less than those in Iodine sufficient areas A majority of the consequences of IDD are invisible and irreversible, but at the same time, are totally preventable. IDD constitute the single largest cause of preventable brain damage worldwide.

In India, due to lack of iodine in the soil and therefore in the diet, all1. 2 billion people are at risk of IDD and around 264 million people are at high risk. India has the largest number of children born vulnerable to IDD. Currently, 92% of the population consumes iodised salt in India. Adequate salt iodisation in India has saved 4 billionn IQ points in the last two decades