2 Missing Nutrients in the New Zealand Diet

fruit and veg

New Zealand has a mostly temperate climate (mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine) and produces a huge range of top quality, nutritious produce. And it's easy to grow fruit and vegetables at home, so you might expect New Zealanders to be getting all the nutrition they need. But 2 minerals are seriously lacking from the New Zealand diet:

New Zealanders have some of the lowest levels of selenium in the world

Selenium is a trace mineral that is vital for good health but the body only requires it in small amounts.

Because soils in New Zealand are low in selenium, the selenium content of the food is low and New Zealanders have some of the lowest levels of selenium in the world.

It is thought that New Zealanders may have adapted to their low Se environment (Source: Selenium in Human Nutrition in New Zealand) but immigrants might like to supplement their diet.

The medical advice seems to be that we don't need selenium supplements, but may benefit from occasionally eating selenium-rich foods, such as Brazil nuts, Tuna, cold water wild fish (Cod, Halibut, Salmon), Beef, Pork/Bacon, Chicken, Eggs, Brown rice, Whole grains, Enriched breads, Mushrooms, Cheese, Shellfish.

Iodine deficiency is a significant public health problem in Australia and New Zealand

Like selenium, iodine is a trace mineral that is required in tiny amounts.

Recent studies have indicated that the iodine status of New Zealanders is declining and the New Zealand Government has decided to replace non-iodised salt with iodised salt in most bread (source: NZFSA).

The introduction of iodized salt since the early 1900s has eliminated goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) in many affluent countries, however, in Australia and New Zealand, iodine deficiency is a significant public health problem.

Good sources of iodine include Iodised salt (table salt with added iodine), Seaweed (e.g kelp), Seafood (eating fish once a week is enough to fulfil the average iodine requirement). Although iodine is found in seawater, sea salt is not a good source of iodine.


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