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Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Cadmium and Lead Toxicity - 07 Conclusions and perspectives



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Nutrients. 2015 Jan; 7(1): 552–571.  Published online 2014 Jan 14. doi:  10.3390/nu7010552 PMCID: PMC4303853  Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Cadmium and Lead Toxicity - Qixiao Zhai,1 Arjan Narbad,2 and Wei Chen1,3,*

7. Conclusions and Perspectives

We have summarised the literature on potential dietary supplements for Cd and Pb toxicity. Based on these published reports, we recommend that people who are at risk of exposure to toxic metals ensure a sufficient intake of essential elements and vitamins and enhance their consumption of vegetables and fruit (Figure 1). Some edible plants, such as

tomatoes (rich in iron, calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B and C, quercetin and naringenin),

berries (rich in essential elements, vitamin C, anthocyanin and catechin),

onions (rich in selenium, quercetin and vitamins B and C),

garlics (rich in sulphur-containing compounds, essential elements and vitamins C and E) and

grapes (rich in vitamins, essential elements and anthocyanin)

are of special importance as natural antagonists to Cd and Pb toxicity and should be consumed on a regular basis. These dietary supplements are an affordable option, with fewer side effects than chelation therapy, for the billions of people around the world who are inadvertently exposed to toxic metals on a daily basis. In addition, with the increasing contamination of the food chain, the accumulation of Cd and Pb in edible animals can present an indirect route of heavy metal poisoning in humans. Therefore, providing livestock and farmed fish with the above-mentioned food interventions may also be helpful to reduce Cd and Pb exposure in humans.

While we have focused on the dietary strategies for treatment of heavy metal toxicity, intake of the suggested dietary regimes in people that are at high risk of Cd and Pb toxicity may be helpful in preventing these heavy metals from being absorbed in the body in the first place thus limiting or entirely preventing the exposure of these metals to body tissues.

We need to mention that although the protective effects of essential elements, vitamins and probiotics have already been investigated in human trials, further confirmation is still necessary.

It should be also noted that the studies mentioned above do not provide sufficient information on the appropriate doses of the dietary supplements in humans. It is possible that excessive consumption of essential metals, vitamins or phytochemicals may cause adverse effects in humans

Long-duration epidemiological studies are required to determine the optimal doses of the dietary supplements, singly and in combination, to provide safe and effective dietary strategies against Cd and Pb toxicity.


This work was supported by the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of China (No. 31125021), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31470161), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31371721), and the 111 project B07029.

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Figure 1

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Dietary supplements and recommended strategy against cadmium and lead toxicity.