Can the Right Diet Help Protect You from Lead Poisoning?
The important role calcium, iron and vitamin C play
"Diets high in iron, calcium or vitamin C can limit the absorption of lead in your body and promote its excretion," Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, told NPR. Hanna-Attisha is the doctor whose study found that twice as many kids had elevated lead levels in their blood after Flint switched its water source.
- Lean red meats
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Dried fruits (raisins, prunes)
- Oysters, clams and mussels
- Canned sardines in oil
- Dried beans
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- Green leafy vegetables (including spinach, kale, collard greens)
- Canned salmon
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- Oranges and orange juice
- Red bell peppers
- Cantaloupe, mango and papaya
An empty stomach absorbs more lead. Feeding your child healthy meals and snacks each day will help his or her body to absorb less lead according to many sources.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers this sample menu for a lead-protective diet:
- Breakfast: Iron-fortified cereal made with low-fat or fat-free milk and topped with raisins
- Snack: Orange slices
- Lunch: Lean hamburger on an iron-fortified bun with red bell pepper strips
- Snack: Low-fat or fat-free yogurt topped with fruit
- Dinner: Chicken with brown rice, a spinach salad and a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk
- Snack: Peanut butter on whole-grain crackers
Until recently, kids were said to have a blood lead “level of concern” if they had 10 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood. Experts now use 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most kids’.
Children can be given a blood test to measure the level of lead in their blood. According to CDC, the tests are covered by Medicaid and most private health insurance. Your child’s doctor can help you decide if he needs a lead test.
Sources of lead other than tainted water include lead-based paint and the dust from peeling lead-based paint, which are the most widespread sources of lead exposure in children.
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