This Indian Tradition Is Saving Lives!

Iodine deficiency is a common problem among developing countries. This critical trace element plays a vital role in helping the thyroid regulate metabolism, shaping developing bones and brains, as well as a whole host of other issues surrounding hormone synthesis.

According to, women with low iodine who become pregnant have an increased risk of having children who develop hypothyroidism, goiter, mental retardation, cretinism, and certain forms of cancer. For most of the developed world, people get their iodine primarily through iodized salt and seafood.

In rural India, however, iodine deficiency is common and rampant among the population. To combat the issue, the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center, a nonprofit group based in India, partnered with the ad agency Grey to create and distribute iodized bindis. Dubbed the “Life Saving Dot,” this fashion statement has also become a hallmark of good health.

A bindi is a dot worn between the eyes of women of many religious dispositions in South Asia and Southeast Asia and is not restricted to one religion or region. By using a cultural fashion tradition and giving it additional utility to its wearers, iodized bindis have helped combat iodine deficiency across rural India without forcing people to change their habits.

According to, “the iodized dots have been distributed in four areas, so far—Badli, a village near New Delhi, and three parts of the Maharastra state: Niphal, Peth and Kopergaon/Sinnar.”

We applaud the Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center and Grey for their innovative approach to solving this life-threatening issue across India.

Do you know of other projects like this? Let us know in the comments!

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