Lab Tests Find Protein Drinks Contaminated with Heavy Metals
Consumer Reports has released the findings of an investigation into 15 different protein supplement drinks and have found that several contained contaminants such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury. The levels were high enough in three of the supplements that if three servings were consumed in a day, the levels in some of these metals would exceed the maximum recommended limits.
According to the report, federal regulations do not require that protein drinks and other dietary supplements be tested for presence of contaminants.
The investigation found that three servings of EAS Myoplex Original Rich Dark Chocolate Shake have an average of 16.9 micrograms of arsenic, which is over the suggested daily limit of 15 micrograms per day. Arsenic is a chemical commonly found in pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides and as a contaminant of ground water. It is a potent poison that disrupts several metabolic functions in the body, leading to multi-system organ failure and potentially death.
EAS Myoplex also contained an average of 5.1 micrograms of cadmium in three servings, just over the USP limit of 5 micrograms. Cadmium is a metal chemically similar to zinc and mercury. The chemical was used for years as a pigment and a corrosion-resistant plating on steel, but its use has decreased due to its high toxicity and carcinogenicity. Shellfish and some organ meats, which are protein sources, can be high in cadmium, as can plants that absorb phosphate fertilizers.
Two varieties of the popular supplement Muscle Milk, the Vanilla Crème and Chocolate flavors, were also found to exceed the suggested limits for lead. In fact, Consumer Reports also found that the amount of lead in a single daily serving of eight of the fifteen products exceeded California Prop 65 levels, which would require warning labels.
The Chocolate Muscle Milk contained 13.5 micrograms in three servings, and the Vanilla crème contained 12.2 micrograms. The USP upper maximum limit is 10 micrograms. Lead is a neurotoxin that damages nervous connections, particularly in young children, and cause blood and brain disorders.
The sales of sports nutrition products have exceeded $2.7 billion a year, with protein drinks being a major contributor. A statement by the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, states that the company “believes that the FDA’s oversight under the Dietary Supplement Health and education Act is inadequate to ensure that protein drinks and other dietary supplements are consistently low in heavy metals and other contaminants” and that “more must be done to ensure that those products are properly evaluated for safety and effectiveness before they are sold to consumers.”