LEAD Action News
LEAD 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.

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Research article

Nutrition to Fight Lead Poisoning

By Robert J. Taylor, additional references sourced by Elizabeth O’Brien, Edited by Anne Roberts,
Photos by Catherine Sweeny. A Fact Sheet version of this Research Article can be found at www.lead.org.au/fs/Fact_sheet-Nutrients_that_reduce_lead_poisoning_June_2010.pdf

Selenium appears to be protective against lead-induced impairment. Animal studies indicate it protects against and reduces lead impact on the liver, kidneys, and brain, while human studies indicate it reduces lead-induced hearing loss. It has been linked to lower blood lead levels in some studies. The mechanism for this appears to be the tendency of lead and selenium to form non-toxic compounds. At high levels selenium can exacerbate lead toxicity, at least in some animals.

Australians and New Zealanders tend to have low selenium levels as our soils are selenium deficient. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium: 2 nuts a day ensures your recommended daily intake, 16 nuts a day would be likely to raise your average intake above recommended maximum levels (400 (g) and more than 25 a day would put you at high risk of selenium poisoning. Kidneys (pig, ox, duck and calf) and kippers can provide even higher levels of selenium, while other good sources are alfalfa seeds, seafood (fish, crustaceans, mollusks) liver, and eggs. Selenium supplementation may slightly lower average mortality, though the evidence is not yet firm.

Protective Effects of Selenium and Zinc on Changes in Catecholamine Levels of Brain Regions in Lead Intoxified Rats A.A. Moshtaghie, E. Aghadavod, M. Ani and M. Fazilati Pakistan J. of Biological Sciences Vol. 10 Is. 17, www.ansijournals.com/abstract.php?doi=pjbs.2007.2964.2967 [finds selenium is protective of some lead-induced brain damage; there is a similar article by the same team on acetyl cholinesterase at http://journals.mui.ac.ir/rps/article/viewFile/1214/451 ]

  1. A case-control study on the relationship of hearing function and blood concentrations of lead, manganese, arsenic, and selenium Hung-Yi Chuang, Ching-Hsia Kuo, Yu-Wen Chiu, Chi-Kung Ho,, Chiu-Jung Chen and Trong-Neng Wu Science of the Total Environment Vol 378, Is 1-3, 15 November 2007, Pages 79-85  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764724  [Found higher selenium levels are associated with less lead-induced hearing loss]
  2. Role of selenium against lead toxicity in male rats Azza I. Othman, Mohammed A. El Missiry Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology Vol 12 No 6, p 345 – 349 www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/40000327/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 [Found that selenium can reduce the impacts of lead on the liver and kidneys]
  3. Influence of Dietary Selenium on Lead Toxicity in the Rat Florian L. Cerklewski and Richard M. Forbes Journal of Nutrition 106 (6): 778. (1976) http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/reprint/106/6/778 [Found that while at lower levels selenium reduced the impacts of lead toxicity; at higher levels it accentuated them]
  4. Interactions between essential and toxic elements in lead exposed children in Katowice, Poland Katarina Osman, Andrejs Schütz, Björn Åkesson, Anna Maciag and Marie Vahter Clinical Biochemistry Vol 31, No 8, Nov 1998, Pages 657-665 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0009-9120(98)00071-X [finds a correlation between selenium levels and blood lead levels, particularly at lower blood lead levels]
  5. Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status Christine D Thomson, Alexandra Chisholm, Sarah K McLachlan and Jennifer M Campbell Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:379–84. www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/87/2/379 [Finds that with two brazil nuts providing between 20-84 mg of selenium (lower than quoted on some databases) they are an effective source of selenium.]
  6. Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Goran Bjelakovic; Dimitrinka Nikolova; Lise Lotte Gluud; Rosa G. Simonetti; Christian Gluud. JAMA. 2007;297:842-857 http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/297/8/842 [Finds selenium supplementation slightly reduced mortality rates but the effect disappeared when potentially high-bias studies were excluded. Recommends further research.]

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