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( Originally Published 1940 )
THE thyroid gland, situated in front of the windpipe, plays a very important role in the functioning of all the body organs. Overactivity of the gland causes a condition known as hyperthyroidism; underactivity causes hypothyroidism, or myxoedema. The former is frequently treated by an operation designed to remove some of the overactive thyroid tissue. The latter is treated by administration of an extract of thyroid gland so that the deficiency of secretion of the thyroid is overcome.
While hyperthyroidism and myxoedema are the two extremes in disordered function of the thyroid, they are not the most common disorders to which this gland is disposed. So-called simple goiter is much more common. In this disorder there is an enlargement of the thyroid due usually to a deficiency of iodine in the food intake. When, as in most cases, the percentage of iodine in food is normal, the gland works efficiently. When, however, there is an inadequate amount of iodine in food, or when there is an increased demand by the body for iodine, the gland tries to compensate by enlarging and attempting to overcome the deficiency. On the coastal regions of the United States, as well as in most other parts of the country, the percentage of iodine in the food is normal and goiter is infrequent. In the Great Lakes region, however, the food is deficient in iodine and goiter is common, especially in children. Because of the dietary deficiency, it has become an accepted public health policy in these regions to educate the people as to the importance of getting enough iodine. Fortunately the amount of iodine necessary for smooth functioning of the thyroid is very small and can be supplied by the use of table salt containing about .023% potassium iodide.
A gland with the vital and delicate functions of the thyroid should never be abused by self-treatment with preparations claiming a rich iodine content or other properties sup-posed to have a salutary effect. If you live on the seacoast, your food contains sufficient iodine and you do not need iodized salt or any other artificial iodine supply. If you live in the Great Lakes region or any other "goiter belt," an acceptable iodized salt will meet all iodine requirements of the body. No matter where you live, no proprietary preparation or food product claiming a high iodine content should be used for prevention or self-treatment of goiter. In many instances, the amount of iodine present in "goiter cures" is no greater than that present in the average diet—and all that one buys is dried vegetable extract or seaweed.
For use in areas where there is inadequate iodine in the diet, based on tests reported in 1938 by the North Dakota Regulatory Department.
Diamond Crystal (Diamond Crystal Salt Co., St. Clair, Mich.).
18 K (Winston & Newell Co., Minneapolis).
Right & Ready (Ruggles and Rademaker, Manistee, Mich.).
Red & White (Red & White Corp., Chicago).
Morton's (Morton Salt Co., Chicago).
The following brands contained less than the stated amount (.02% to .023%) of potassium iodide:
Worcester (Worcester Salt Co.).
E-Z Flow (E-Z Flow Salt Co.).
Manistee (Manistee Salt Works).
Our Family (Nash Finch Co.).
The following was variable, with iodide content from .012% to .093%:
IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance).