Researcher: Tara Westby
This research exploits the setting of the traditional seaweed bath to investigate and quantify iodine release from the brown seaweed Fucus Serratus.
Seaweed is an abundant natural resource with a high iodine content. Iodine is a vital micronutrient for normal thyroid function, growth and development. It also has demonstrated anti-infective properties. Iodine is required at all stages of life but early life, prenatal and early childhood, is regarded as most critical. Currently there are 2 billion people worldwide who suffer from Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). It is the leading cause of preventable brain damage.
Diet is the main source of iodine and adequate dietary sources are dependent upon the iodine content of water and soil. Gaseous iodine from iodine rich coastal areas has also been identified as a potential contributor to iodine intake.
Available research suggests that the Irish population are deficient in iodine. Although the deficiency can be easily prevented through adequate dietary intake of iodine, most commonly achieved by use of iodised salt, iodisation of salt is not common in Ireland. Alternative sources of iodine are also desirable in line with current cardiovascular policy with specific targets for reducing salt intake.
The concentration of iodine, and its ions, in various seaweed species is documented. It is expected that the concentration of the particular ions of interest will be higher in heated bathwater than the seawater alone but less than that of the seaweed itself.
Phase 1 of this research study involves
(i) Optimisation of Analytical methodology for the determination of iodine species in bathwater samples
(ii) Quantitative determination of iodine release under various conditions of temperature, mechanical pre-treatment of seaweed etc.
(iii) Qualitative characterisation of select bathwater extracts
There is evidence to show that iodine is absorbed trans-dermally following topical application of iodine preparations but little is known about trans-dermal absorption of iodine, if any, from dermal contact with iodine rich natural sources such as seaweed.
Phase II of this research will explore transdermal uptake of iodine and/or other species from Fucus Serratus using in vitro models.