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Indian J Med Res. 2018 Dec;148(6):697-704. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1733_18.

Nutrition-pollution interaction: An emerging research area.

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Food & Drug Toxicology Research Centre, ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.


The impact of environmental pollution, especially chronic low exposures of heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Hg, As, Cr, etc.) on nutritional status and health of human and livestock, has become a cause of concern. It is established that malnutrition inhibits enzyme system, alters neurotransmitter levels, degenerate myelin, glial and neural elements, lowering of IQ scores as well as impairment of fine and gross motor coordination. Chronic low-level exposure to heavy metals also results in similar type of deformities at sub-clinical level. However, additive impact of undernutrition and adverse effects of heavy metal exposure is emerging as a serious threat to health in developing countries. High blood Pb/Cd levels and low nutrient levels cause subclinical damage of organ system such as haemopoietic, renal, nervous systems in neonates, children, post-partum women, and occupationally exposed population. This could be due to chronic low-level heavy metal exposures and vis-à-vis interaction between pollutants and nutrients. Our studies are focused on the utility of biomarkers for early subclinical detection of haemopoietic and rental toxicity. Lead exposure from non-conventional sources such as toys, pet/glass bottles, etc. suggest long-term investigation. The present review compiles result of studies conducted in this area highlighting the importance of pollution-nutrition interaction. This may facilitate policymakers on developing the strategies to counter the heavy metal exposure of humans/livestock and their consequences.


Biotoxicity; blood lead levels; early biomarkers; lead toxicity; pollutants; subclinical lead toxicity

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