Facts on Nutrition and Lead Exposure

Iron |Calcium | Vitamin C | Why is lead harmful? | Lead resources | Local help

Did you know that a healthy diet and safe food preparation can combat lead exposure? That’s right. You can help reduce the lead in your body with 3 simple steps:

  1. Eat foods rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. 
  2. Keep your stomach full by eating 4-6 small meals a day. Your body absorbs lead faster when your stomach is empty.
  3. Cook and wash your food with safe water. 

Eat these foods to limit lead absorption

Iron: Helps block lead from being absorbed. Good sources of iron include:  

  • Red meats
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Iron-fortified cereals 
  • Dark leafy greens

Calcium: Helps replace lead levels in bone, brain and nervous system. Good sources of calcium include:

  • Low-fat milk and milk products, including cheese and yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Canned fish

Vitamin C: Helps absorb calcium and iron. Good sources of vitiman C include:  

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit)
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes

Why is lead harmful? 
Lead is toxic to humans. It blocks important vitamins and minerals that you need to grow and function properly. It’s especially bad for pregnant women, and children 6 and under. Children absorb lead in higher amounts, which can cause learning, behavior and developmental problems.

Lead sources

  • Lead-based paint and toys
  • Lead-contaminated dust and soil
  • Living in a home built before 1978
  • Storing food in lead-glazed dishware 
  • Contaminated drinking water

Lead resources

Where to get help locally 

  • Food Bank of Northern Indiana
    702 Chapin St., South Bend, IN 46601
    Website has local map for food pantries
    Family and Social Service
  • St. Joseph County South Division of
    Family Resources
    100 W. South St., South Bend, IN 46601

Food assistance in St. Joseph County

Get the Lead Out: Facts About Nutrition and Lead Poisoning. IDPH. (2012). Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2b3Ve1g

How to Fight Lead Exposure with Nutrition. AND. (2016). Retrieved from http://bit.ly/23SMajQ

Fight Lead Poisoning with a Healthy Diet. EPA. (2001). Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2bg7mNk

Purdue University is an EOE/AA employer. All individuals, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your county Extension office.