Lead Contamination in Calcium Dietary supplements  | NutritionFacts.org

Do calcium citrate and calcium carbonate have as a lot lead as calcium dietary supplements derived from dolomite and animal bone? 

You could keep in mind I’ve explored the function calcium dietary supplements might play in lowering lead publicity throughout being pregnant and breastfeeding, however that assumes the dietary supplements themselves are nocontaminatedDietary supplements with lead? 

It began with a rare case report revealed in 1977, entitled Lead-Contaminated Well being Meals. As talk about in my video Lead in Calcium Dietary supplementsa physician prescribed a dietary complement for a younger lady with painful intervals. Not simply any younger lady, although. She was tv and film star Allison Hayes, well-known for her roles in movies akin to Assault of the 50 Foot Lady. And, not simply any doctor, however Dr. Henry Bieler, doctor to the celebs, who instructed his sufferers to overlook about poisonous medication; meals is your greatest medication,” as you may see in an commercial proven at 0:44 in my video. In this case, it was a calcium complement made from horse bone. She took it on daily basis, however obtained weaker and sicker, and by 1967, her performing profession ended when she grew to become unable to stroll with no cane. Ms. Hayes noticed physician after physician after physician, 22 in all, to no avail. She reported she concluded she had three choices: “(1) commit suicide, (2) go to a psychiatrist to try to be taught to dwell with the ache…; or (3) discover the reply myself.” 

She had some buddies drive her to a medical library. By then, she couldn’t even stroll and needed to be carried in. She sat on the ground contained in the library, day after day, and at last got here throughout a e-book on industrial toxicology that described what she quickly realized was a traditional case of lead poisoning. She paid to have the calcium complement examined, and, certainly, it was filled with lead. At first, she was relieved. “Then the anger set in.” Doctor after physician had basically dismissed her as hysterical, and, in the end, she needed to rely on herself to educate them. 

The silver lining was that, in a letter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration truly credited “the intrepid actress for being a key stimulus’” for the company’s plans to begin trying into regulating heavy metals in meals and dietary supplements. Sadly, the letter arrived after Ms. Hayes had already died from leukemia, which can have been triggered by the lead poisoning or the 300 x-ray exams she obtained from these 22 baffled physicians. 

Wouldn’t you assume the complement business would clear up its personal act? “It is unrealistic to anticipate the well being meals business and wellness’ press to dampen their evangelistic promotion of those merchandise on a unilateral foundation,” that’s, on their very own.  

The place did the lead in her dietary supplements even come from? Keep in mind, she had been taking a calcium complement made out of horse bone. Lead will get saved in your bonesso once you take dietary supplements made out of bones, you may get uncovered. In that casewas that one calcium complement simply the tip of an iceberg? At first, we thought it was simply from the bone dietary supplements and dolomite, a mineral that may be contaminated with lead, but then calcium carbonate—oyster shell calcium, chelated calciumwas discovered to have comparable lead ranges to animal bone, as you may see at 2:56 in my videoThis impressed a complete survey of the lead content material of 70 totally different manufacturers of calcium dietary supplements. As you may see at 3:09 in my video, lead ranges assorted by virtually 300-fold, with some twothree, and even 4 instances the tolerable each day consumption of lead for kids. Greater than half of the most typical, pure supply calcium dietary supplements, like these containing oyster shell, had lead ingestion charges exceeding the benchmark for kids. 

A follow-up research confirmed that the majority calcium dietary supplements from pure sources exceeded a minimum of among the most stringent lead requirements, however the ranges solely obtained as much as about 8 micrograms, whereas among the artificial sources have been as much as thrice that, as you may see at 3:27 in my video. 

A small human research of calcium citrate was carried out wherein bone biopsies have been taken earlier than and after about 5 years of supplementation. As you may see at 3:49 in my video, there was no change in the management group, as anticipated, and solely a statistically insignificant enhance within the calcium citrate group. Neverthelessone cannoassume {that a} given model is uniformly secure, as a result of a few of their merchandise might have excessive and others low lead ranges.” What does this imply? “Sufferers and customers ought not assume secure lead ranges from preparations which have model titles or are provided by acknowledged pharmaceutical firms”—that’s, there’s no assure, even when we’re accustomed to the producer 

There may be some excellent news, although. After a long time of concern, lead ranges in calcium dietary supplements have come down. In realitythey’ve come down a lot that adjustments in lead ranges in your blood, taking the common lead-contaminated calcium complement, can be minimal at this level. So, these findings on lead contamination of dietary supplements ought to be a trigger for celebration, not alarma minimum of based on a advisor to a calcium complement producer. 

What a tremendous—and amazingly unhappy—story. 


  • The degrees of lead in calcium dietary supplements have decreased after a long time of concern, however even widely known pharmaceutical firms and well-known model names might not assure security.
  • Lead is saved in bones, so taking calcium dietary supplements made out of bones, for instance, might offer you publicity.
  • Calcium carbonate (chelated calcium, or oyster shell calcium) has additionally been discovered to have comparable ranges of result in animal bone.
  • In a survey of the lead content material of 70 manufacturers of calcium dietary supplements, greater than half have been discovered to have lead ingestion charges exceeding the benchmark for kids.
  • Allison Haynes, famed actor from such movies as Assault of the 50 Foot Lady, took a each day calcium complement made out of horse bone and deteriorated so enormously she grew to become unable to stroll. When medical doctors have been unable to diagnose her, she pored over books at a medical library and, after reviewing a e-book on industrial toxicology, realized she had a traditional case of lead poisoning. 
  • The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration credited the late Ms. Haynes for being “a key stimulus” for its plans to contemplate regulating heavy metals in meals and dietary supplements.

Ought to Pregnant Ladies Take Calcium Dietary supplements to Decrease Lead Ranges? is the being pregnant video I talked about. 

Even when dietary supplements had no contamination, Are Calcium Dietary supplements Secure? and Are Calcium Dietary supplements Efficient? Check out these movies to be taught extra. 

What about dairy sources of calcium? See Is Milk Good for Our Bones?. 

I’ve many extra movies on lead right here. 

In well being, 

Michael Greger, M.D. 

PS: If you happen to haven’t but, you may subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my dwell shows: 

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