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Breakfast May Protect Against Lead Poisoning

We all know breakfast is important. It gets your day started, nourishes your body, helps you lose weight, improves concentration…and protects against lead absorption in your tissues.

OK, that last one isn’t such common knowledge. But it’s a real thing in the world, according to a new study out of China. In a 6-month study, Chinese scientists showed that children who ate breakfast every day lowered their blood levels of lead by 15%, compared with those who skipped it.

That’s a pretty big advantage for a small effort.

Past research has shown that a full belly protects adults from absorbing lead. The theory is that other nutrients in the food compete with the lead for absorption, and win. The Chinese study is the first to demonstrate that being well-fed can have a direct positive impact on children’s lead levels.

For those of us who live and work in older buildings with lead paint, this is great news. Of course deleading is a priority, but we can’t delead our soil, or every building our kids spend time in. Kids also sometimes get exposed to lead through cosmetics and toys.

TIME’s piece on this thinks the potential for using breakfast to ward against lead poisoning is huge. They write:

…public health officials should focus on educating parents about the benefits of breakfast as a proactive way to lower their youngsters’ exposure to lead, and potentially reduce their risk of developing behavioral and cognitive problems later on.

They also note that affluent, educated parents were more likely to give their children breakfast every day. Lead poisoning is just one more reason to ensure that kids eat breakfast. As I said at the beginning of this article, we all (hopefully) already knew it was a good idea.

Photo: Michele Hubacek

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