A recent survey has reported that Filipinos have inadequate intake of iodine. In response to this concern, the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) developed “Tubig Talino,” a technology for Iodine-Rich Drinking water.
DOST-FNRI will transfer the technology to qualified adoptors, like operators of water refilling stations, to help combat iodine deficiency.
The science agency said drinking five glasses of “Tubig Talino” at 250 milliliters (mL) each can meet 33 percent of the daily iodine requirement of the body.
The DOST-FNRI Expanded National Nutrition Survey in 2021 revealed that only about one-third, or 33.2 percent, of household respondents consumed iodized salt with sufficient iodine, while around one out of two, or 55.7 percent claimed using it.
Iodine deficiency causes significant problems from birth, jeopardizing children’s mental health and physical development, affecting their performance and competency, or worse, their survival, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO further warned that iodine deficiency in pregnant women can harm the baby in the womb, resulting in neuro-developmental deficits, low birth weight, prematurity, and can increase perinatal and infant mortality.
The Department of Health (DOH), through the Food and Drug Administration, sets and enforces standards for iodized salt and monitors compliance of salt manufacturers and distributors to ensure that the salt being sold in markets and retail stores is properly iodized.
“Tubig Talino” is a combination of purified or ordinary potable water and Water Plus I2, a water and iodine premix. Only 5 milliliters (mL) of Water Plus I2 can enrich 19 liters of purified or potable drinking water.
Five years ago, the eighth National Nutrition Survey already reported that one of the interventions that can be considered effective in the control of iodine deficiency disorder in the Philippines is the countrywide salt iodization program.
However, cost-effectiveness of this program was said to be dependent on the amount of iodine in the salt that reaches the consumers at the household level and the salt intake of the households.
Based on then self-reported non-usage of iodized salt, 40.6 percent of them said that iodized salt has a different taste from ordinary salt and/or that they were used to using ordinary salt.
DOST-FNRI noted the respondents’ feedback on the difference in taste and addressed this in the latest DOST developed “Tubig Talino,” which is said to have no discernible taste difference from regular water.
It 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.
For those who are restricted to consume salt, like people with hypertension and kidney disease, DOST-FNRI recommends eating iodine-rich foods instead, such as fish, shellfish and other seafood to avoid iodine deficiency.
The government, through the Republic Act 8172, known as “An Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide,” declared the policy to protect and promote the health of the people, to maintain an effective food regulatory system and to provide the entire population, especially women and children, with proper nutrition.