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New research suggests the UK population is now iodine-deficient and a full review and evidence-based recommendations are needed to safeguard public health. The findings, presented on Tuesday the 12th April 2011 at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference, provide the only current data on the UK’s iodine status and demonstrate iodine-deficiency in a large sample population. Iodine-deficiency is the most common cause of preventable mental impairment worldwide.

In the study, which was funded by the Clinical Endocrinology Trust and is the first of its kind in the UK, Dr Mark Vanderpump (Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust) and colleagues on behalf of the British Thyroid Association measured urinary iodine levels in samples from 737 14-15 year old girls from nine UK centres. Factors that might skew the results (e.g. diet, ethnicity) were assessed using a questionnaire. Variations due to season and location were corrected for via measurements taken in Summer 2009 and Winter 2009/2010 and water samples from each area were measured for iodine content.

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A study published August 2010 in the Journal Pediatrics looked at a large cross-sectional study of Japanese teenagers and describes that a higher intake of fish, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is independently associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms in boys but not in girls.[1]

Now whilst it is generally felt that the role of fatty acids is vital in terms of brain health and function there is a scarcity of substantive epidemiological evidence to support direct benefits in terms of inhibiting depression.

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