Action News vol 10 no 2, June 2010, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Nutrition to Fight Lead Poisoning
Robert J. Taylor, additional references sourced by Elizabeth O’Brien,
Edited by Anne Roberts,
Copper deficiency can cause sideroblastic anaemia (the inability to incorporate iron into haemoglobin for red blood cells) as it is essential to iron transport inside the body, and according to some animal experiments may also affect lead-induced anaemia. On the other hand, animal studies have also indicated that high copper levels can exacerbate lead poisoning. But it should be noted that copper’s absorption is inhibited if is consumed with iron and zinc, and copper levels within the body are reduced by lead, cysteine and vitamin C. This may be a particular concern for pregnant women, as copper deficiencies have significant impacts on the unborn fetus. Copper levels are also reduced by iron deficiency.
On the whole, it would appear that an individual with significant lead exposure should seek to maintain good levels of copper in their diet, without aiming for high levels. Copper is found in quantity in unfiltered piped water, shellfish (oysters, clams) crustaceans (crab, lobster), liver (sheep, goose, ox, duck, calf, pig), yeast, seeds (sesame), tea, cocoa, nuts (cashew, brazil, hazel, walnuts, pasticcio, pecan, pine), wheat bran and curry powder. Consumption of up to 10mg a day is considered safe, but could lead to copper accumulation over the longer term. Up to 9mg can be present from food and unfiltered water (contributing up to 6mg) so any supplementation should be handled with care, particularly above 1mg a day for prolonged periods. Zinc can completely block copper absorption while iron and low stomach acidity interfere with copper absorption. On the other hand, copper levels are reduced by iron and zinc deficiency. Soybean protein and fructose strongly inhibit copper absorption but phytates have minimal impact.
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