- Every food has important nutrients and minerals to offer
- Milk makes for one of the most healthy and nutritious beverages
- Milk alternatives may increase the risk of developing iodine deficiency
"Many people are unaware of the need for this vital dietary mineral and it is important that people who consume milk-alternative drinks realise that they will not be replacing the iodine from cows' milk, which is the main UK source of iodine," said Margaret Rayman, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey.
Dairy products are great sources of iodine, but with the popularity of milk alternatives increasing due to dietary requirements and perceived health benefits, many consumers are not receiving sufficient amount of iodine through their daily diet. The study that was conducted by the University of Surrey found that milk alternatives had iodine concentration levels of about two percent of that found in the cow's milk. This suggests that most milk-alternative drinks are not an adequate substitute for dairy products, and this could lead to some unwanted health effects.
Iodine is required to make thyroid hormones, which is particularly important for brain development during pregnancy and it has also been linked to lower IQ. "A glass of a milk-alternative drink would only provide around 2 mcg of iodine, which is a very small proportion of the adult recommended iodine intake of 150 microgram per day. During pregnancy, that recommendation goes up to 200 microgram per day," Rayman explained.
Dr Sarah Bath, a Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Surrey and registered dietitian, concluded, "Worryingly, most milk-alternative drinks are not fortified with iodine and their iodine content is very low. If avoiding milk and dairy products, consumers need to ensure that they have iodine from other dietary sources, where possible."
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