So that question I teased about in my last blog post is what can we control as far as what we are exposed to? The answer as I see it is many things. The first step is to like so many things educate ourselves. You can’t affect what your ignorant about. 

The issue is huge. As trying, to as you will see, to trace down where and how everything we eat is potentially affecting your food is impossible. However, we have to start somewhere. Like the Wizard of OZ we have to typically follow the yellow brick road.

As your food is affected by things like the soil, feeds, fertilizer, water, rain, ranchers, farmers. What I can do is try to help you identify those things that I find are important, research them and then let you know what I find. Thus, helping you better educate yourself. Yes, we have to try. One area is heavy metals.

As from heavy metals one is cadmium. One source of our exposure is the animals we eat who are affected by the cadmium content in the soil type where they feed as well as where the grass/grain they were fed was grown. 1 

Cadmium is considered one of the most toxic trace minerals in our soil. Not wanting to be an alarmist as we probably have been ingesting cadmium for millennium bad as no level of consumption is good I didn’t like what I learned.

It occurs there naturally as well as deposited through the air and water from industrial activities. Cadmium accumulates in the human body from what we eat, drink, breath and smoke. 2 Cadmium poising is rare from food, but do you really want any in your body? 

It is probably impossible to eliminate it from our food as it occurs naturally in our soil but being aware is the first step. Typically, toxicity technically occurs when the wet weight concentration in the kidneys reaches 200ug/gm. 3 Probably not something you were needing to know. 

Not an easy test to administer. The first case of cadmium poising occurred in the1950’s in Japan where a zinc mine had contaminated a river that was used to irrigate rice fields.4 Many were ill, and some died from kidney failure.

So how do we ingest it? First it is ubiquitous in the soil. With the soil concentration of cadmium for example in US which usually varies from 0.1 gram to 1.0 gram per kg of soil. 5 Then iit is taken up from the soil n vegetable crops. 

Its concentration is highest in leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach and lowest in grains like wheat and barley with root vegetables are in between. 6 The main source of cadmium intake in humans if from our food. 

That the soil naturally contains it is bad enough with some areas much higher than others but the fallout from industrial flue gases is and has been constantly dumping more heavy metals like cadmium on our soil, crops and in our lungs. 

Histosols soils which are organic soils in which we typically grow our vegetables have the highest concentration of cadmium. This may partly be as these soils require heavy phosphorus fertilizer for maximum production. Phosphorus fertilizers contain cadmium

Typically, at least in the US the cadmium air pollution is only a few grams per year per hectare, but not insignificant as cadmium is so dangerous. Interesting the San Joaquin valley which appears to be at least partially made up of the Monterey deposit. 

The San Joaquin valley is where 12.8% of US agricultural products in dollar value come from. 7 This area has been called the worlds food basket as it can and does produce so many agricultural products from grains, to asparagus to nuts and grapes products. 

Also, dairy, sheep and cattle production. All producing products we ingest. The San Joaquin valleys difference is the soil happens to be again at least partially made up of the Monterey shale deposit which contains some of the highest naturally occurring soil cadmium levels in Us. Up to 10.1 mg/ kg of soil. 8

The Salinas valley and Malibu canyon of California sitting adjacent to the San Joaquín valley do produce agricultural products and do sit on soils with these elevated cadmium levels. 9

  1. Page AL, Chang AC, El-Amamy M. (1987). Cadmium levels in soil and crops in the United States. Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic in the Soil. Edited by Hutchinson TC and Meema KM. Chapter 10, 119-146.
  2. Ibid
  3. Kjellstrom T, Norberg GF, (1978). A kinetic model of cadmium metabolism in human beings. Environ. Res.  16, 248-269
  4. Tsuchiya K. (ed). (1978). Cadmium studies in Japan-A review. Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press, Amsterdam.
  5. Ibid (1)
  6. Ibid (1)
  7. 2007 overview-Agricultural Statistical Overview http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/files/CDFA_Sec2.pdf
  8. Ibid (1)
  9. Ibid (1)

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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