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How Did Heavy Metals get in My Food/Supplement?

Heavy metals are not new to the food-supply, believe it or not. Heavy metals are also known as
elementsthe same ones on the periodic table that you probably learned about in grade school.
These elements (like cadmium, lead, arsenic, etc.) are natural components of the Earths crust and have
existed on there since the Earths formation. The World Health Organization and the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry both note that certain geological processes and/or volcanic activity can
naturally increase the level of these elements in soil in certain areas worldwide. This is contrary to the
belief that heavy metals on the Earths soil are solely due to pollution or sites of industrial activity.
ANY vegetation (be it fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes) grown directly in soil or surrounding bodies
of water, will absorb these naturally-occurring metals just as they would other nutrients like zinc or
iron. (The same goes to the rice used to make our Complete Organic Protein.) This affects both organic
and conventionally grown crops. Additionally, certain plants like those grown beneath the soil (e.g.
potatoes) and leafy greens (e.g. lettuce and spinach) tend to absorb more heavy metals than others. If
plants grown directly in soil are used to feed livestock (cows, chickens, etc.) then the metals will leech
into animal-based food or animal-based products as well. In the ocean, seafood like tuna absorbs the
mercury that the ocean gets from the Earth and sea algae/vegetables will absorb any heavy metals
directly on the seabed or ocean. Drinking water obtained from natural springs could also contain some
of these heavy metals. In fact, a 2011 study in California found 14 heavy metals in six different sources
of bottled natural spring water (1). All concentrations were within federal and state maximum
contaminant levels, except for arsenic which exceeded California public health goal levels in all six
The FDA and other health agencies recognize that food (especially plant-based) is a major source of
heavy metal exposure. In fact, every few years the USDA/FDA tests the metal/mineral content of
hundreds of foods and fresh produce and publish this information for public viewing. For example, here
is some data from 2007:
Max. Amounts of Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium found in commonly consumed Foods (2)
Lead Arsenic Cadmium
Spinach, fresh, boiled (180g)1 cup 11.5 mcg 7.7 mcg 94.3 mcg
Cucumber, raw (52g) cup 1.6 mcg 1.3 mcg 0.4 mcg
Strawberries, raw (72g) cup 1.2 mcg 0.8 mcg 4.7 mcg
Avocado, raw (75g) cup 3.0 mcg 2.8 mcg 8.0 mcg
Collards, fresh, boiled (190g) 1 cup 25.8 mcg 2.7 mcg 23.2 mcg
Asparagus, fresh, boiled (180g) 1 cup 2.5 mcg 25.0 mcg
Iceberg lettuce, raw (72g) 1 cup 0.4 mcg 1.0 mcg 23.3 mcg
White potato baked w/ skin (138g) 1 cup 2.8 mcg 5.8 mcg 15.5 mcg
Broccoli, fresh, boiled (156g) 1 cup 2.2 mcg 4.7 mcg
Surprisingly, some of the highest contents are found in some of the most nutritious foods. Some of
these levels far exceed safety levels set forth by federal standards. This goes without saying, the more
plant-based foods you consume, the more heavy metals you are probably exposed to. So why is this not
a public health concern?? To date, a growing body of evidence has indicated that the benefits of
consuming plant-based foods FAR OUTWEIGH any consequences attributed to heavy
metals. Consuming metals is inevitable, and in spite of this vegans and vegetarians are known to be
some of the healthiest and longest-living populations. Research indicates various factors affect the
absorption of naturally occurring metals and that the body is able to act as a natural filter to these
offending substances!