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Lead Poisoning: Nutrition and Food Preparation

Topic Overview

Good nutrition may help prevent lead poisoning. But if the environment is highly contaminated with lead, nutrition alone will not prevent lead poisoning.

Children absorb more lead than adults do. But both children and adults are likely to absorb more lead if they are fasting or do not get enough iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, or vitamin C in their diets. People who eat high-fat diets also absorb more lead.

  • Make sure that your children eat breakfast soon after getting up and that they have regular snacks and meals.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating.
  • Never store food in opened metal cans, especially if the can is not manufactured in the United States. If there is lead in the metal or the solder, it can be released into the food after air gets into the can.
  • Don't prepare, serve, or store food or drinks in ceramic pottery or crystal glasses unless you are sure they are lead-free.
  • Make sure your child eats healthy foods that include calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin C. Talk with your doctor before you give your child vitamin and mineral supplements.
    • Milk, yogurt, cheese, and some green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, contain calcium.
    • Red meat, eggs, fortified cereals, cooked beans, and raisins are a good source of iron.
    • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk are a good source of phosphorus.
    • Meats, fish, poultry, and vegetables are a good source of zinc.
    • Citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, papayas, mangoes, kiwifruit, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and vegetables in the cabbage family are a good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
  • If you reuse plastic bags to store food, make sure the printing is on the outside.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
Last Revised June 5, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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