Derry girls’ iodine levels safe, study finds

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Derry girls have healthier iodine levels than their Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon sisters and it’s partly down to the milk they’re drinking.

These were the findings of new research, commissioned by safefood Ireland and completed by the Queen’s University, Belfast, that surveyed 14 to 15 year old girls in six schools in the city in order to determine whether local girls had adequate amounts of iodine in their bodies based on guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This is good news as the element is important for the production of thyroid hormones and vital for the development of babies’ brains during pregnancy.

Despite the positive results, however, the researchers did find examples of iodine deficiency in Derry.

Thirty-seven per cent of local subjects, for example, exhibited iodine concentrations of less than 100 micrograms per litre of urine, indicating mild deficiency, at least, while six per cent exhibited moderate to severe deficiency.

Notwithstanding this disappointing aspect of the findings, iodine levels among Derry girls were healthier than in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon.

Milk samples in Derry also yielded higher iodine concentrations than those in Galway and Roscommon, which may have contributed to higher iodine concentrations in local subjects. One of the more unusual findings was that urinary iodine concentrations in Derry and Belfast were lower during spring and summer. Despite this the populations in the cities were still considered iodine sufficient

Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, safefood’s Director of Human Health and Nutrition, said: “We get sufficient iodine in a varied diet containing milk, dairy and fish and additional iodine should only be taken under medical supervision.

“It’s important that teenage girls and young women continue to consume these foods both because of their iodine content and also for their calcium content.”