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What are Harmful Arsenic Levels?
Did you know that high levels of arsenic have been found in rice and apple juice? Arsenic, a silent killer, has become a heavy metal concern as of late.
While arsenic contamination of soil and water is largely due to volcanic eruptions and soil erosion, arsenic is also used in many insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and numerous medicines, all of which can find their way into the water supply and soil.1
In 2006, the FDA lowered the limit for the amount of arsenic allowed in water from 50 ppb (parts per billion) to be no more that 10ug/L, which is 10 ppb. The FDA has not yet set a limit for arsenic in food, so the amount of arsenic in your rice or other foods is simply not regulated.2
A patient contacted me who had become ill due to high levels of arsenic in her blood. She was intolerant to dairy, so she had switched to rice milk and rice protein supplements. Arsenic is absorbed through the small intestines, where it disrupts more than 200 enzymatic pathways involved in DNA protection and synthesis. As a result, it can cause a host of ailments, ranging from digestive disorders to fatigue and environmental sensitivity.3
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My patient took it upon herself to get her rice protein powder and rice milk tested for arsenic levels. What she found was surprising!
- EPA + FDA accepted limit: 10 ppb
- Non-Organic Rice Milk: 111 ppb
- Organic Rice Milk: 56 ppb
- Rice Protein Powder: 24 ppb
The legal limit set by the FDA and the EPA is 10 ppb. These numbers are 2-11x the legal limit! I was so concerned about this that we had the rice in our LifeSpa kitchari packets tested, and thankfully, our numbers were just 6 ppb, well below the legal limit.
According to my research, Indian basmati rice and jasmine rice have the lowest arsenic levels,2 and here in the U.S., Lundberg farms consistently had levels below the EPA and FDA standards. Brown rice, because arsenic tends to store in the husk, regularly has higher arsenic levels, although Lundberg brown rice was okay.
Unfortunately, high levels of arsenic were found in many other foods, including apple, grape, and citrus juices, milk, red wine, chicken and beef broth, rice syrup, and other foods,2,4 making arsenic exposure quite ubiquitous. While there is still much confusion around how much exposure to heavy metals like arsenic is safe, it is very clear that we are being exposed to more than is safe according to the EPA and FDA.
Thankfully, there are foods that naturally chelate (pull) heavy metals out of the body. Garlic, chlorella, and cilantro are classic food-based chelators of heavy metals from the body. Herbs like shilajit, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA from citrus fruits), N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and amino acid EDTA are even more powerful chelators.5-36
Natural Heavy Metal Detoxifiers
- ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid)
- NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)6-36
Based on growing evidence that we do, in fact, carry heavy metals in our cells for years, it’s important to detoxify on a regular basis. This can be accomplished two ways:
1. Regularly cleanse with ghee and kitchari, as in the Colorado Cleanse or Short Home Cleanse. Studies suggest that ghee is an effective chelator for heavy metals and toxic chemicals.37 For best results, cleanse twice a year.
2. Use chelating herbs and foods as described above at least once every two years for one to two months.5-36 Whenever using herbal chelators, such as our Chelation Support, always supplement with a highly absorbable mineral supplement, such as our Essential Minerals, to ensure mineral replenishment.
- Mittal P, Kaushik D, Gupta V. Therapeutic potentials of “shilajit rasayana”: a review. Int J Pharm Clin Res. 2009;1(2):47-49. Accessed August 1, 2014.
- Bhattacharya SK, Sen AP, Ghosal S. Effects of shilajit on biogenic free radicals. Phyto Res. 1995 Feb;9(1):56-59. doi:10.1002/ptr.2650090113.
- Gondar D, Lopez R, Fiol S, et al. Cadmium, lead, and copper binding to humic acid and fulvic acid extracted from an ombrotrophic peat bog. Geoderma. 2006 Nov;135:196-203. doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2005.12.003.
- Hudák A, Náray M, Nagy I, et al. Effect of the consumption of humic acid with bound complex micro elements in cases of occupational cadmium exposure. National Institute of Occupational Health, Budapest, Hungary. Accessed July 31, 2014.