Nutrition: Find natural protein sources, avoid a heavy metals scare

I’m a little late on getting this out there, but I recently saw a graphic from Consumer Reports that raised my eyebrows and, quite literally, kept me up the night I read it. This little scare started with a phone call from my sister.

She’s a health conscious person, especially when it comes to things like how foods and medicines affect health. She told me I needed to see this report on whey protein supplements.

Eventually, I got my hands on the Consumer Reports piece, which was published in July 2010. When I read it, I was stunned.

As it turns out, three different protein shakes and mixes that I have used — some for a long time — contain heavy metals. The elements I’m talking about are arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. By themselves, all of these are toxic, but there are certain levels of of these substances that have been deemed safe for consumption (Try saying that to yourself in all seriousness). In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “cancer, anyone?”

The report listed products from popular brands such as GNC, EAS, Muscle Milk, Optimum Nutrition, Jillian Michaels and Six Star.

A long time ago, I swore off most nutrition supplements. No creatine or fat burners for me. But I figured whey protein mixes and drinks were safe. Now, I’m not so sure.

I was a longtime user of EAS’ Myoplex products. I later switched to ON’s Gold Standard and used it for a long time.

In a pinch (usually after a workout at the gym), I’d buy Muscle Milk products.

According to Consumer Reports, Myoplex exceeded “safe” levels of arsenic and cadmium. Muscle Milk chocolate exceeded those levels in arsenic and lead. ON Gold Standard was below these levels, but had traces of all four elements.

Yikes. My only hope is that years and years of use don’t have long-term effects. Anyway, the plan going forward is to pare down supplements even further.

First, I found an organic whey protein mix by Jarrow. If you look at its ingredients list, there are three items there.

Second, I’m getting more protein from everyday foods. Fortunately, I have access to markets that sell hormone-free, free-range meats and dairy.

To be clear, I am not saying these products are going to kill you or make you sick. They may be perfectly fine. I don’t think there is enough research out there to make a conclusion either way. But therein lies the problem. There’s too many unknowns out there.

So I’m steering clear of mainstream nutrition products until I can be assured that they aren’t jacking my body up with heavy metals, stimulants or other chemicals that provide short-term gains at the cost of who-knows-what down the road.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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2 thoughts on “Nutrition: Find natural protein sources, avoid a heavy metals scare

  1. Pingback: Nutrition: A power-packed, post-workout smoothie « proactiveoutside

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