We have been discussing in class a wide variety of nutrients and how they are essential for the functionality of the human body. Among the nutrients required in large quantities are water, carbs, lipids and proteins. We also require minerals and vitamins in smaller quantities that are essential for our metabolism and body processes.
Usually heavy metals are associated with toxicity, but some elements classified as heavy metals are essential to humans. Metals such as iron, copper, selenium and zinc are required in trace amounts for proper body functionality. Do you remember why iron is important and which conditions you can developed if you lack this essential metal? On the other hand, other metals can be extremely toxic to the human body since they can’t be metabolized and accumulate in the tissues. I am sure that you have heard recommendations such as, limit your intake of tuna fish during pregnancy because of the presence of mercury or the danger that lead represents for kids. Well, in this course we will be discussing arsenic, a heavy metal that represents a serious risk to human health.
Why arsenic is a concern? If you look at the periodic table, arsenic is just above phosphorous in the periodic table. Phosphorous (phosphate) is essential to living organisms because it is a main component of genetic material, energy forms and components of cell membranes. Arsenic and phosphorus both have similar reactivity and when combined with oxygen form very similar compounds (arsenate and phosphate respectively). Our bodies can recognize arsenate as phosphorus, but arsenate cannot be utilized as phosphate (Look at the chemical structures below for better understanding of the chemistry of both compounds). Any ideas why this could be detrimental?
Below you can find a link to an article published by Consumer Reports that talks about the presence of arsenic in some drinks (especially some juices). Please, read over this article and share your thoughts. What is your perspective on this article? What do you think about the FDA regulations? What kind of measures should be implemented?
As a mother this article is concerning. I rarely give my kids juice, but in the US sugary drinks such
as the type of juices described in this article are the primary source of liquids for many kids.
Please, share your thoughts!