Arsenic Effects and How to Decrease Exposure

by Margaret Stoklosa

Arsenic is a heavy metal of concern found in water, rice, fruit juices (especially apple juice), and seafood (among others) that can also be absorbed through the skin (CDC, 2017; Molin et al., 2017).  Arsenic can impact the thyroid by increasing TSH as well as the pancreas by interfering with the release of insulin (Fu et al., 2010; Molin et al., 2017).

Arsenic exposure should also be considered with any new symptoms, such as increased fatigue, weight gain, headaches, visual disturbances, and a change in cold tolerance, concordant with a change in diet or occupation know to expose the individual to this metal. There is some evidence to indicate that heavy metal exposure, specifically arsenic exposure, may be involved in the development of type II diabetes.

While it is difficult to completely avoid, there are ways to decrease your arsenic exposure, and these include:

  1. Eating fish that are low in heavy metals (https://www.fda.gov/media/102331/download)
  2. Preboiling and straining any rice consumed via this method:
    > Preboil rice for 5 minutes
    > Strain and rinse well
    > Boil with new water as per package directions
  3. Checking your local water sources for arsenic and filtering appropriately (https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/where-can-i-find-information-about-my-local-drinking-water-supply)
  4. Avoiding apple juice whenever possible
  5. Including foods that help detoxify heavy metals such as cilantro, garlic, green tea, blueberries, and spirulina.

The best way to minimize the impact of arsenic exposure is by eating a whole food, colorful, plant-heavy diet with plenty of variety. Our in-house nutritionist can guide you in a personalized dietary approach.

References

Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2017, April 7). National Biomonitoring Program: Arsenic Factsheet.  Retrieved on January 20, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Arsenic_FactSheet.html

Fu, J., Woods, C. G., Yehuda-Shnaidman, E., Zhang, Q., Wong, V., Collins, S., Sun, G., Andersen, M. E., & Pi, J. (2010). Low-level arsenic impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells: involvement of cellular adaptive response to oxidative stress. Environmental health perspectives118(6), 864–870. PMID: PMID: 20100676

Molin, M., Ulven, S. M., Dahl, L., Lundebye, A.-K., Holck, M., Alexander, J., Meltzer, H. M., & Ydersbond, T. A. (2017). Arsenic in seafood is associated with increased thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in healthy volunteers – A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology44, 1–7. PMID: 28965562

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