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What is the safe dietary level of aluminum |

What is the safe dietary level of aluminum

This topic became necessary because of the stories making the rounds in the media, especially social media, on the negative health effects of aluminium. Many readers have in panic called Consumer Watch for more enlightenment since receiving the message.

Last week, we published a story entitled, ‘Aluminium, friend or foe?’ and promised to conclude the story with what is supposed to be the safe limit of aluminium in the body as we cannot really run away from it.

Like it or not, we all get exposed to aluminium daily through the water we drink, air we breathe, food and medications we ingest, cosmetics we use, etcetera. Aluminium salts are widely used in water treatment as coagulants to reduce organic matter, colour, turbidity and microorganism levels. Aluminium intake from foods, particularly those containing aluminium compounds used as food additives, represents the major route of aluminium exposure for the general public.

Aluminium is the most prevalent element and the most abundant metal in the earth’s surface. It is the most abundant metallic element and constitutes about 8% of the earth’s crust. No wonder, manufacturers find it easy and cheaper to use in constructions,  making of cooking utensils, canning products like drinks, foods, medications, cosmetics, amongst others.

Exposure to the metal is not the problem but over exposure to it, especially as researchers have found high concentrations of aluminium linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

As we cannot run away from it and minimal exposure is not harmful, the question should then be, what is the safe limit of aluminium in the body? and how should we avoid exceeding that recommended limit?

According to the World Health Organisation [WHO], human bodies can excrete small amounts of aluminium very efficiently. This means that minimal exposure to aluminium is not a problem. The WHO has established a safe daily intake of 40mg per kilogramme of body weight per day. So far, a person who weighs 60kg, the allowable intake, would be 2400mg.

However, most people are exposed to and ingest far more than the recommended safe level. So how do we regulate the quantity of the aluminium we ingest? At least we can control it by avoiding using things like aluminium foil in cooking and mastering how to use aluminium pots also, etcetera.

Aluminium foil.

This is where all the hue and cry against cooking with aluminium foil stems from. According to research, some of the foils used in cooking, baking, and grilling leach into your food, which can pose health problems over time.

A 2012 research published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science investigated the amount of aluminium that leaches into food cooked with foil. The amount varied based on factors such as temperature and acidity (fish and tomatoes are highly acidic), but the findings showed conclusively that aluminium foil does leach into food cooked in foil. “Aluminium foil used in cooking provides an easy channel for the metal to enter the human body,” the study authors wrote. “The increase in cooking temperature causes more leaching. The leaching is also highly dependent on the pH value of the food solution, salt, and spices added to the food solutions.”

How aluminium will actually harm your body depends on many factors like your overall well-being and consequently how much your body can handle accumulation of it in relation to the allowable dosages set by the World Health Organisation.

So should you stop cooking with aluminium foil? It seems the general consensus is that we should, at the very least, cut way back.

For grilling veggies, you can get a stainless steel grilling basket, or even reusable skewers. Use a glass pan when roasting veggies; use a stainless steel cookie sheet under baking potatoes as opposed to aluminium foil to catch the mess; and even try replacing foil with banana leaves when wrapping foods for baking. Use banana leaves or the one use in wrapping ‘eko’, ‘agidi’ when cooking moin-moin. One will also benefit from the antioxidants in those natural leaves.

Aluminium pots:  Given all of these proven risks, it is important to determine the aluminium concentration when cooking. Pots and other cookware tend to be oxidised, providing an inert layer that prevents the aluminium from leaching into food.


Category: Cookware Pots  Tags: ,  Comments off
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