Heavy Metals In Food, Causes And Consequences.


Where Do Heavy Metals In Food Come From

Heavy metals are present elements with a high relative atomic mass and a density, a minimum of five times greater than water. Their multiple industrial, domestic, agricultural, medical, and technological applications have led to their wide distribution within the environment, raising concerns over their potential effects on human health and therefore the environment. The concentration of those elements is higher in mining and industrial areas, although some agricultural pesticides and soil enhancers can contain a number of the five primary heavy metals in food. These metals are principally arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury.

How Do They Get Into Our Food?

These elements occur naturally as environmental pollutants within the air, water, and soil, and that they enter the food supply when plants take them up as they grow. Because these metals occur naturally within the environment or have infiltrated water, air, and soil due to pollution, they’re hard to avoid or maybe just minimize. When these contaminants are in soil or water, they’re absorbed into plants, which are then eaten by people or by animals that enter the food supply, and there we’ve heavy metals in our food.

An example of heavy metals in food is methylmercury, which comes from pollutants that get into our water and consequently into our seafood supply.

Consequences Of The Ingestion Of Heavy Metals From Food (How Heavy Metals Affect Our Health)

There are many and different consequences due to the ingestion of heavy metals in food. Their toxicity depends on several factors, including the dose, route of exposure, chemical species, and therefore the age, gender, genetics, and nutritional status of exposed individuals. Due to their high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury rank among the priority metals of public health significance. Conrad Choiniere from FDA says: “children are one among our most vulnerable populations”, and even that they’re concerned about the health of all populations, including older consumers and other people who may have chronic health conditions, they chose children to specialise in first because of their smaller body sizes and slower metabolism than adults, which can make them more vulnerable to the presence of those metals. Plus, these metals could allocate on children’s brains and can have effects on children’s neurological development.

Also metal ions are found to interact with cell components like DNA and nuclear proteins, causing DNA damage and conformational changes which will cause cell cycle modulation, carcinogenesis, or apoptosis.Several studies have demonstrated that reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and oxidative stress play a key role within the toxicity and carcinogenicity of metals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury. These metallic elements are considered systemic toxicants known to induce multiple organ damage, even at lower levels of exposure. Arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), and nickel (Ni) are classified as human carcinogens (known or probable) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.


This isn’t to be alarmed, but if you’re concerned about the heavy metals in the food you eat, we all should remember and be conscious about the impact of our lifestyle and reduce our consumption to scale back the pollution on our surroundings. Because of pollution, even if we live in an area with clean air and water, we could be eating heavy metals in food, especially processed food.

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