Arsenic in Baby Formula

The latest research from Dartmouth reveals that many organic food products that contain organic brown rice syrup also have a very high concentration of arsenic. On this evolutionary journey from hunter gatherer to organic health food fanatics there is still so much that we are learning. We have learnt that heaping fertilizers and pesticides into our bodies is not good, we also learnt that corn syrup which is added as a sweetener to our food is worse than sugar at causing diabetes and obesity thus we turn to healthier options which we have now been conditioned to think of as “organic”. If a product is organic then it must be OK. But that is not always the case as these researchers from Dartmouth have discovered.

Dr. Brian Jackson the lead author of the study and research associate professor at Dartmouth said that this study stems from earlier studies on arsenic in baby formulas. The researchers studied many organic foods with organic brown rice syrup, including infant formulas, cereal and energy bars, and energy supplements. The rice plant during its growth absorbs silica and it has been found that arsenic behaves like silica in the growing conditions for rice, and is thus absorbed in high concentrations by the rice. This arsenic seems to be stored in the husk that forms brown rice, while it is lower in white rice because of the absence of the husk.

The study has found that not all brands of infant formula contain these high concentrations of arsenic and that in fact the concentrations were quite low in the main brands. Studies on drinking water have linked high arsenic concentrations with an increased risk of some cancers and cardiovascular disease, but as these infant formulae, and other products are only a small part of our daily diet and so Dr. Jackson’s team is not sure what the long term effects of this exposure could be. Since the arsenic exposure for infants is the most worrisome as they have the lowest body weight and so get a comparatively higher does. They do feel that the FDA should establish better guidelines for organic foods, especially those meant for babies and kids.

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