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Am J Public Health. 1993 Aug;83(8):1155-60.

Lead content in 70 brands of dietary calcium supplements.

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  • 1Environmental and Resource Studies Program, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.



Elevated lead levels in calcium supplements may pose a health risk, particularly to children with milk intolerance who rely on these products to meet their calcium requirement. Earlier reports chiefly focused on the lead content in supplements derived from bonemeal and dolomite. This study undertook to determine the lead levels in the major forms of calcium supplements currently available.


The lead content was measured in 70 brands of calcium supplements grouped in the following five categories: dolomite, bonemeal, refined and natural source calcium carbonate, and calcium chelates.


The lead levels measured in the supplements ranged from 0.03 microgram/g to 8.83 micrograms/g. Daily lead ingestion rates revealed that about 25% of the products exceeded the US Food and Drug Administration's "provisional" total tolerable daily intake of lead for children aged 6 years and under. Less than 20% of the supplements had "normalized" lead levels comparable to or lower than that reported for cow's milk.


Children are the most sensitive to the low-level effects of lead. If calcium supplements are to provide an alternate source of calcium to some of these individuals, they should also deliver concomitant lead dosages no greater than those obtained from milk products themselves.

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