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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1996 Feb;136(2):332-41.

Bioavailability of cadmium from shellfish and mixed diet in women.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Dietary intake and uptake of cadmium (Cd) were studied in nonsmoking women, 20-50 years of age, consuming a mixed diet low in shellfish (N = 34) or with shellfish once a week or more (N = 17). Duplicate diets were collected during 4 consecutive days for the determination of Cd content. The women kept detailed dietary records, and the intake of energy and various nutrients was calculated. The shellfish diets (median 22.3 micrograms Cd/day) contained twice as much Cd as the mixed diets (median 10.5 micrograms Cd/day; p < 0.0001). Cadmium in feces corresponded to 100 and 99% of that in duplicates of shellfish diets and mixed diets, respectively, indicating a low average absorption of the dietary Cd. In spite of the differences in the daily intake of Cd, there was no statistically significant difference in the concentrations of Cd in blood (B-Cd, shellfish group 0.25 micrograms/liter, mixed diet group 0.23 micrograms/liter) or urine (U-Cd, 0.10 micrograms Cd/liter in both groups). This indicates a lower absorption of Cd in the shellfish group than in the mixed diet group or a difference in the kinetics. A higher gastrointestinal absorption of Cd in the mixed diet group could partly be explained by lower body iron stores as measured by the concentrations of serum ferritin (S-fer, median 18 micrograms/liter, compared to 31 micrograms/liter in the shellfish group). In the mixed diet group, S-fer was negatively correlated with B-Cd and the main determining for B-Cd besides U-Cd in the multiple regression analysis, indicating an increased absorption of Cd at low body iron stores. When women with S-fer exceeding 20 micrograms/liter were compared, the higher dietary intake of Cd in the shellfish group compared to the mixed diet group (24 versus 10 micrograms/day) resulted in higher B-Cd (0.26 versus 0.16 micrograms/liter), although not in proportion to the difference in Cd intake. Thus, there seems to be differences in the bioavailability and/or kinetics of dietary Cd related to the type of diet. This is, to our knowledge, the first study where the influence of various types of diets and nutritional factors on the intake and uptake of cadmium in human subjects has been studied.

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