Lead poisoning/toxicity and its health consequences for children made headline news and garnered national attention recently with the exposure of Flint, Michigan’s toxic tap water. Lead poisoning is a serious, but preventable, health problem in the U.S. that can result in impaired cognition, aggressive behavior and stunted growth in children. What isn’t mentioned in the news is that nutrition plays an important role in protecting against lead toxicity. Proper amounts of certain nutrients, like calcium, iron, and vitamin C, help block lead from being absorbed by the body.
The CDC acknowledges the importance of adequate dietary calcium in the prevention and management of childhood lead toxicity. Milk and other dairy foods are among the best sources of naturally occurring calcium in the diet. For children with elevated blood lead levels, the CDC recommends getting adequate calcium from dairy foods and other calcium-rich foods, not supplements, above the recommended levels of calcium per day. Adequate amounts of calcium for children, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are 700-1,300 mg of calcium per day (2-3 three servings of dairy per day, depending on age). However, many children are lacking calcium in their diets.
Calcium is one of the four nutrient of concerns in children’s diets per the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And the 2015 Dietary Guidelines singly credits low intake of calcium to the low intake of dairy foods, and states if the Healthy U.S. Style Eating Pattern is consumed, amounts of calcium will meet recommendations.
Click on our Childhood Nutrition page to view these resources for more information about lead and nutrition:
Visit our Milk with Meals resource page that shows how families can increase milk in children’s diets. Download these FREE materials and post them in your office!
Michelle Easterly Barber, MA, RD, CDN
Office Phone: 315-692-8045
Cell Phone: 315-481-9624