The Dangerous Truth: Heavy Metal Contaminates in Whey Protein Powder
It's probably pretty safe to assume that you take whey protein powder because you know that it's good for you. You likely do not even consider the idea that whey could be hurting you in some way.
The sad – and dangerous – truth, though, is that many whey proteins are doing exactly that. How? What's the potential danger of taking whey? What can you do to keep yourself safe?
In 2010, trusted watchdog magazine Consumer Reports performed a detailed analysis of 15 popular protein drinks. The team was looking for potentially dangerous contaminants and included products from Muscle Milk, Optimum Nutrition, GNC, Jillian Michaels, BSN, EAS and others.
Specifically, the researchers were testing for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury – all of which are heavy metals that can cause major organ damage. Although the readings varied greatly, none of the products came out completely clean, although Solgar was pretty close.
The worst offenders, though, were Muscle Milk and EAS, both of which contained extremely high levels of arsenic in particular.
What's The Problem?
But why should you be concerned? As mentioned, these metals can cause a wide range of problems to numerous biological systems. What's more, they are extremely difficult to remove from your body.
For these reasons, cadmium is especially worrisome. This metal builds up in your kidneys, damaging this vital organ. Once the metal is in your tissue, though, it can take up to 20 years to remove just half of it.
It's also important to point out that people take whey protein powders and similar drinks on a regular basis. Often, these products are used multiple times each day.
So, if these metals are found in a whey protein powder at even low levels, they can quickly accumulate inside of your system.
Where Does It Come From?
How do these metals get in the whey, though? Is the whey itself the problem? No, whey does not naturally contain any of these substances. The real problem has to do with poor manufacturing and farming practices.
For example, the Chinese government recently released a report saying that one-fifth of all farm-land in the country is heavily contaminated with cadmium, arsenic and lead. Any cattle farmed on that land, then, is likely to be exposed to these metals and even take some in from the contaminated food.
Those metals will then make it into the milk produced from those cows and any products – including whey – made from that milk. Many companies purchase their whey powder from China before processing it and flavoring it the way that they want.
So, how can you avoid exposing yourself to these metals? Select whey protein powders that are sourced from the United States, where governmental involvements and standards tend to be more rigid.
And, in general, buy only from a company that you trust and one that routinely tests its products. Naked Nutrition, for example, uses a third-party lab to test all of our products for any potential contaminants to be sure that we're only offering you the best whey possible.