Tubig Talino: Answer to Pinoys’ low iodine consumption

Iodine is found mainly in animal protein foods and sea vegetables, and to a lesser extent in fortified foods like breads, cereals, and milk. “The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones,” said the Office of Dietary Supplements of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions,” NIH further said. “The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.”

The Philippines is one of the countries where adequate iodine status has been achieved. Thanks to Republic Act No. 8172 or an Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN), which was signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995. The ASIN Law aims to promote the use of iodized salt to address the lack of micronutrients in the country. It also requires all salt manufacturers to iodize the salts they produce and distribute.

Despite this, iodine deficiency still remains an important public health problem in the country.

According to the Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) done by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), a line agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), only 3 out of 10 Filipino households consumed iodized salt with enough iodine.

The ENNS revealed that only about one-third (33.2%) of household respondents used iodized salt with sufficient iodine levels or adequately iodized salt, while around one in two (55.7%) claimed to use it.

An earlier FNRI study found out that only 47.5% were aware of the benefits of iodized salt. Of this percentage, about 16.5% knew that salt being sold in the market is added with iodine, 14.3% learned that it’s good for the body, 4.7% good for the brain, and 0.8% good for pregnant women.

In response to the reported inadequate iodine intake of Filipinos, the DOST-FNRI developed “Tubig Talino,” a purified or ordinary potable water mixed with Water Plus Iodine (I2). It has reportedly a stable shelf life of six months.

The FNRI said that 5 milliliters (mL) of Water Plus I2 can enrich 19 liters of purified or potable drinking water. Drinking five glasses of “Tubig Talino” at 250 milliliters (mL) each day can meet 33% of the daily iodine requirement of the body.

Five years ago, the 8th National Nutrition Survey already reported that one of the interventions that can be considered effective in the control of iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) in the country is the nationwide salt iodization program.

However, cost-effectiveness of this program was dependent on the amount of iodine in the salt that reaches the consumers at the household level and the salt intake of the households.

A study on non-usage of iodized salt, 40.6% of the respondents said that iodized salt has a different taste from ordinary salt and/or that they were used to using ordinary salt.

The DOST-FNRI noted the respondents’ feedback on the different taste between the iodized salt and ordinary salt and addressed this in its “Tubig Talino” technology. Those who have drank the water said the water has no discernible taste difference from regular water.

The “Tubig Talino” water can also be used in coffee, tea, milk, other beverages, and even in cooking.

“‘Tubig Talino’ can also be used in nutrition intervention programs, disaster relief packs, and other health and community projects,” said Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin of the Science and Technology Media Service.

For those who are restricted to consuming salt, like people with hypertension and kidney disease, DOST-FNRI recommends eating iodine-rich foods instead to avoid IDD. Examples of these foods are fish, shellfish, seaweeds, meats, bread and eggs.

An iodine deficiency can use uncomfortable and even severe symptoms, healthline.com states. They include swelling in the neck, fatigue and weakness, hair loss, feeling colder than usual, changes in heart rate, pregnancy-related issues, weight gain and learning difficulties.

People who become iodine deficient can suffer from goiter, an abnormal swelling of the thyroid gland, according to the Global Alliance of Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Among the adult Filipino population, 8.9% have goiters by physical examination, according to the Philippine Thyroid Diseases Study.

Newborns who are severely iodine deficient can be impaired by cretinism which is a condition which has irreversible consequences of mental retardation and stunted growth, GAIN said.

Children born with iodine deficiency, GAIN said, can become afflicted by dwarfism or otherwise known as restricted growth. One of the famous Filipino personalities with dwarfism was actor Weng Weng, a stunt performer and martial artist. He was only two feet and 9 inches tall.

Pregnant women who do not consume enough iodine for themselves and their baby can suffer from stillbirths and spontaneous abortions, GAIN said.

Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of mental slowness and can significantly lower IQs of populations, GAIN said. “Mental impairment caused by iodine deficiency doesn’t just affect individuals but whole societies by reducing educational attainment, productivity and gross domestic product,” it added.

“Tubig Talino” may be the right answer to the low iodine consumption of Filipinos. After all, no one is spared from drinking water.

Water, like air, is a basic necessity of life and therefore human beings need clean drinking water to survive. Water maintains the health and integrity of every cell in the body. It also keeps the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through blood vessels.

You’ve probably heard the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day. That’s easy to remember, and it’s a reasonable goal. “But your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live,” says the Mayo Clinic.

If you think you are suffering from iodine deficiency, it’s time for you to drink “Tubig Talino.”

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