RIVM research has shown that the Dutch population’s intake of iodine is barely sufficient. It is important that this intake does not decrease further, particularly for women of child-bearing age. Iodine plays a vital role in the development of the brain of the unborn child and proper functioning of the thyroid. It is also important that the Dutch population’s salt intake continues to decrease.

The Health Council of the Netherlands previously recommended a daily iodine intake of 150 micrograms and a maximum daily salt intake of 6 grams for adults. Too much salt may lead to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important that people’s salt intake continues to decrease. The government has already taken a range of measures, including the introduction of the Nutri-Score and the National Approach to Product Improvement (Nationale Aanpak Productverbetering, NAPV). This approach incentivises producers to lower the amount of salt in food products. More measures and better implementation are needed to reduce the salt intake to the desired level.

Overview of research

RIVM has compiled an overview of the research into the Dutch population’s intake of salt (sodium), potassium and iodine. This overview makes clear in which areas knowledge is lacking, which further research is required and what the policy recommendations are. In line with the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw)’s Nutrition and Health Memorandum, RIVM recommends more research to ensure closer alignment between nutrition guidelines, nutrition standards and the nutrition needs of specific (vulnerable) population groups.

Coherent measures

RIVM believes it is important to investigate which measures can be used to reduce people’s salt intake further, bearing in mind that these measures must be coherent. As an example, iodine is an additive in salt. Reducing the amount of salt in food products should not lead to a lower iodine intake. And potassium is often used as a sodium substitute, which may lead to an excessive potassium intake. In sum, when considering measures to reduce the amount of salt in food products, care should be taken that people’s iodine intake does not become too low and their potassium intake does not become too high.

Moreover, these intakes are also affected by other developments. For instance, people are being encouraged to replace the animal protein in their diet with vegetable protein to reduce the burden on the environment (the ‘protein transition’), but animal products often contain iodine. Vegetable products, on the other hand, often contain potassium.

Research into iodine intake of pregnant women

RIVM would also like to investigate the iodine intake of pregnant women and whether this is sufficient. To further this research, RIVM is looking for pregnant women living near Nijmegen or Maastricht who would like to take part. A condition is that they have been pregnant for a maximum of 16 weeks. Visit the Iodine intake of pregnant women web page (in Dutch) for more information and the link to register.