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Sea salt comes from the evaporating water of the open sea. It’s used for cooking, baking, cosmetics and even for preserving food. It’s also known as black sea salt, pink sea salt, or Dead Sea salt. Although not actually “red” in color, it’s been called that since its mineral content is almost identical to that of red sea salt.

Like many of the other salts in our world, sea salt undergoes natural chemical reactions during the earth’s formation. For instance, mineral ions will combine with other elements to create sodium chloride (NaCl). In the process, the concentration of the sodium chloride mineral ions increases. After millions of years, the concentration of the salt minerals to the extent where it reaches a particular limit – called the saturation point – is reached. This is when the salt begins to dry up and crack. When it cracks, pieces of crystal salt will be released.

Pink Sea Salt and Black Sea Salt both contain trace amounts of iodine, iron, and magnesium. It’s possible to obtain sea or table salt from sea salt in a variety of forms including rock salt (which is often collected from beaches), tablets, flakes, crackers, and even candies and cookies. Irrespective of the form, sea salt is considered a healthier alternative to table salt and may help prevent sea sickness and some cardiovascular diseases. It’s important to remember though, that sea salt is very high in sodium content and should only be used if your doctor recommends it.

Iodine, which is responsible for regulating the thyroid gland’s activity, is a key element for good health and is needed in abnormally low levels in individuals with thyroid problems. Iodine deficiency also contributes to hyperthyroidism in individuals. Sea salt contains iodine mineral ions that help maintain normal thyroid function. Because sea salt can’t provide this mineral ion for people who are unable to obtain it through diet alone, iodine supplements may be necessary to meet the proper iodine requirements.

If you opt to use sea salt as an additive to your diet, you’ll want to ensure that the salt has not lost its iodine content over time, especially if you’re using the salt to prepare meals for your family. To test the purity of the salt to check for loss of iodine content, sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on a piece of bread. If the salt does not immediately absorb the bread, it’s not pure enough to use in your cooking. Iodine deficiency is a serious health risk and should be avoided, especially in pregnant women and those hoping to become pregnant.

Unfortunately, iodine content decreases throughout the world, especially in coastal regions. This is why sea salt comes in different natural colors, from white (Iodine deficiency eases in areas of high iodine) to red (Iodine increases as a body grows old). It’s important to purchase sea salt that has not been processed with additional chemicals or ingredients that might decrease the iodine concentration. Many sea vegetables come already prepared with iodine content to maintain good health, so be sure to read the label of any product you buy to make sure there are no additives or other impurities affecting the iodine value.

To increase the iodine content of sea salt even more, add the proper proportion of iodine minerals. Iodine is essential to the human body, so any decrease would have serious consequences. Iodine deficiency can cause hyperthyroidism, goiter, poor thyroid functioning, miscarriage and even goiter in extreme cases. A high salt diet would reverse the body’s ability to retain vital minerals. As a result, iodine supplements may be needed to maintain good health, especially in individuals with thyroid disorders.

Of course, it’s not just the iodine content that the salt works to correct. The seawater is rich in magnesium and other minerals, too. Magnesium helps with muscle strength, blood pressure, bone strength and tissue growth. On top of this, sea salt also contains a wealth of antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, as well as potassium, phosphorus and iodine. The combination of these beneficial minerals makes the sea salt an excellent tool for maintaining health.