Can what you eat really help lower levels of lead in the body?

When Tom and Yara received test results showing their son, Orion, had high levels of lead they were shocked.

"It was like my world fell apart. I thought I'd done everything correctly," said Yara.

"Of all the things I thought that could happen to my son this was the furthest thing from my mind," said Tom.

Scouring the internet for tips on how to fight lead exposure the couple found a lot of information about diets high in calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

"It's one of the top results when you do searches online," said Yara.

The diets are even recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, but one researcher recently wrote an article for the Journal of Pediatrics and questioned whether foods can actually help prevent lead exposure or reduce lead in blood levels.

"There is a mismatch between the recommendations, the way that they are made, and the published scientific evidence," said Dr. Katarzyna Kordas, University at Buffalo.

According to Dr. Kordas, some research shows nutrients, like iron, may help keep lead out of the body. But she said it is less clear which specific foods may help.

"There are no foods that we can say with confidence, if your child eats these foods, they will have a lower blood lead level or that it will help protect your child from lead exposure."

The CDC would not comment specifically on Dr. Kordas' research. The Public Health Institute does stand by its dietary recommendations and told us "Lead-nutrient interaction data are limited and somewhat inconsistent" and "More research is needed to better understand how vitamins, minerals, and foods interact with lead."

"I agree that further research is needed," said Dr. Kordas.

Meantime, Tom and Yara said they plan to keep feeding their son a well-balanced diet.

"I already feed Orion such healthy foods," said Yara.

Experts all agree, when it comes to lead poisoning, avoiding exposure in the first place is the best line of defense and a healthy well balanced diet is essential for all children.
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