I had an interesting question from a patient’s mother the other day in clinic. She had read a recent article in the Dayton Daily News regarding arsenic in different juices. She was asking me about the need to test her child for arsenic since he drank juice every day.
Let me recap. Evidently Dr. Oz reported about arsenic levels that he found in different juices when he did some independent testing. This show aired in the fall. The FDA and Consumer Reports then conducted studies on batches of juice and Consumer Reports recently released their findings and the Dayton Daily News wrote an article about the topic. The FDA has monitored arsenic and other elements in foods, including water, juices, and baby foods for many years.
Needless to say I had to do a bit of research before I could make recommendations for this appropriately concerned parent. Although I did not see the Dr. Oz episode here is the information that I have compiled:
1.) Arsenic is a natural element that is found in the air, water, soil and food. It is used to strengthen metals, used for conduction with electronic devices and was commonly used in pesticides before 1970. There are 2 forms, organic (thought to be safe) and inorganic (thought to be harmful- either in large single quantities or smaller quantities over longer periods of time with chronic exposure).
2.) The reports of elevated levels listed total amounts of arsenic (inorganic and organic) in some products but did not clearly state the levels of the harmful type (inorganic) arsenic.
3.) Juice concentrate is often a compilation of apples from many different countries and thus makes it harder to regulate and control.
4.) The risk of damage from arsenic is based on the amount of arsenic ingested over a period of time.
5.) Currently the FDA reports that juice is safe to drink.
6.) Currently there is no routine testing of blood or urine that is recommended for arsenic.
Most importantly, and the recommendation that we strive to follow in my household, is this:
7.) To reduce risk of arsenic ingestion AND follow the recommendations for a healthy diet:
Limit juice consumption to 6 ounces per day. Encourage your children to eat fresh or frozen produce and drink mostly water. Juice contains a lot of sugar that is not recommended overall in diets. I even recommend diluting juice by 50%. We encourage 16-24 ounces of milk each day and 5-6 glasses of water each day. So if they are drinking water and milk they likely are not going to be thirsty.
So, as with most things in life, consumption in moderation is the key to a healthier lifestyle. I hope this information helps!