re: heavy metals
Healthy = dangerous?
Supplements sound good, but what if the vendor is buying cheap contaminated ingredients from China (a heavily polluted country? Or just manages to meet the lowest standard allowed by law? Or just flouts the law and you get something especially nasty?
Lead levels up to 300X higher than need be? Plus more arsenic and mercury?
Never take a supplement unless you first obtain confirm its quality via a certificate of analysis (COA). Ideally prefer an independent lab, one that confirms extremely low levels of toxins like lead, cadmium, arsenic. A company that has no COA to offer should be shunned.
Total intake of toxins like lead is what matters. Which is impossible to determine, as it includes all foods, supplements, water, etc and what is actually absorbed, along with any environmental exposure.
The only thing you can do is to avoid products that are unreasonably high in lead. For some, that might mean avoiding even chocolate or black tea from China. While that might not be necessary for adults, a pregnant or nursing mother or child should think twice.
Think twice about foods sourced from heavily polluted countries like China. Avoid foods known to be high in toxins eg certain types of fish, farm-raised fish, etc.
What to look for on the COA
Ignore marketing claims such as “pharmaceutical grade”*, “high purity”, etc—it means “buyer beware!”. You want facts, not vague marketing claims.
The COA below is from Nutricost Magnesium Chloride hexahydrate.
Confirm that yeast and molds are far below the cutoff value, and no bacteria.
Check the heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury. These values should be listed in micrograms (mcg). Anything more than 0.1 microgram is undesirable. The safe level is zero but all foods have some.
Lead — There are various standards for lead: 0.5 mcg for pregnant/lactating women, 3-6 mcg for children, 12.5 or 15 mcg for adults. One magnesium supplement I was taking had up to 2 mcg per serving—outrageous. It met the legal cutoff, but I don’t need 221X the lead versus an alternative product.
Mercury— the “no obvious issues” dose is 0.1 mcg per kg of body weight per day eg 8 mcg for an 80kg person. Most mercury comes from eating seafood, particularly large predator fish like albacore tuna (VERY high in mercury). Favor fish that are lower in mercury, and avoid all farmed fish.
Consider mercury-tested tuna (non-albacore) such as SafeCatch that is 10X lower than the FDA limit of 1000 mcg per kg of fish (1 mcg per gram of fish), instead being 0.1 mcg per gram of fish. A can of such low-mercury tuna would thus be 8.5 mcg of mercury instead of something higher and perhaps considerably higher.
Cadmium — the “tolerable” standard is around 2.5 mcg per kg of body weight eg 28 mcg per day for an 80kg person. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy, it’s a figure that should avoid obvious harms.
Arsenic — EPA reference dose for inorganic arsenic is 0.3 mcg per kg body weight per day, eg 24 mcg for an 8kg person. Eating rice is a good way to get way too much arsenic. Can you believe that some rice is engineered to tolerate high-arsenic soil, and they are selling that shit?
* Given the toxic crap Big Pharma produces, maybe “pharmaceutical grade” means “toxic”?