Ask the Dietitian - Heavy Metals, What are They?

Ask the Dietitian - Heavy Metals, What are They?

Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Sep 28th 2018

Heavy metals - what are they?

Heavy metals are chemical elements that occur naturally in the earth. They can be found in soil, water and air through the erosion of rock and through volcanic eruptions. Industrial practices such as mining, smelting, use of fossil fuels and development of man-made chemicals add heavy metals to the environment. Heavy metals can be found in paints, pottery and ceramic glazes, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Because of their natural and man-made presence in soil, water and air, many of them will be found in foods and drinking water.

There are 23 heavy metals and those that are probably the most familiar include gold, nickel, platinum, and silver. In small amounts, some heavy metals are essential as nutrients to support body functions such as chromium, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, known as ATSDR, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is congressionally mandated to provide health information on hazardous substances, to respond to emergency hazardous substance situations, to assess hazardous waste sites and to provide education and training on hazardous substances. Because the most common cause of exposure to hazardous substances in humans is through industrial uses of heavy metals and the chemical compounds containing these metals, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of the top 20 hazardous substances. The heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are on this list and are of greatest concern in the foods and water we consume.

Heavy metals become toxic when they cannot be metabolized by the body and accumulate in various body tissues resulting in health issues. Children’s exposure to heavy metals is of even greater concern because children are not little adults. Other differences include:

  • Infants and children are still growing and developing
  • Metabolic rates are more rapid
  • Internal organs such as the kidneys are still developing and maturing
  • Biochemical and physical functioning are immature
  • Types and variety of foods consumed are usually different than adults, especially with young children
  • Ability to absorb and excrete pesticides are different
  • Certain behaviors of children such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects into the mouth increase exposure as compared to adults

Here at Nature’s One, we believe in reducing your child’s exposure to heavy metals. We truly understand the importance of nourishing your child with a formula that contains trusted ingredients. Our formulas tested “Best in Class” for purity and nutrition when compared to popular baby formulas sold in the USA. Testing was completed by the Clean Label Project, an independent third party nonprofit organization dedicated to educating consumers to the real facts behind a brand. We are committed to giving you our best, and that we pledge to you.

Important resources:

ATSDR offers suggestions on how to avoid heavy metals in the environment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website also offers tips for parents on avoiding lead poisoning.


**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional