DOI 10.5414/TEP23150

Trace Elements and Electrolytes, Volume 23 - 3rd Quarter (150 - 161)

Oral intake of aluminum from foodstuffs, food additives, food packaging, cookware and pharmaceutical preparations with respect to dietary regulations

U. Schäfer1, M. Seifert2
1 Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, 2 Federal Research Centre for Nutrition, Food, Institute for Biochemistry of Cereals, Potatoes, Detmold, Germany

Abstract

Background: Aluminum (Al) and its compounds are used in a wide variety of industrial and modern lifestyle products as well as in several food additives and medical preparations. Due to elevated industrial and medical exposures of Al, which may lead to large increases in systemic Al, it became a potentially chronic toxicant to various human tissues. Objective: Against this background, the aim of the present study was to compare Al intake data worldwide and to assess its toxicological relevance to healthy adults and to susceptible groups of the population. Content in foodstuffs: Generally, in Germany, foodstuffs vary largely in their Al concentration ranging from about 1,000 mg/kg dry matter, DM (black tea leaves) via about 100 – 200 mg/kg DM (vegetables, herbs, spices) and about 20 – 40 mg/kg DM (table salt, meat, coffee, fruits, potatoes, cocoa) to about 10 mg/kg DM (sugar, bread, rice, dairy products, fish, legumes, flours). Dietary intake: It has been calculated that adults in the USA consume 2 – 25 mg Al daily, with 1 – 10 mg from natural sources (foods, beverages, drinking water), 0 – 20 mg from food additives, and 0 – 2 mg from cooking utensils. The worldwide mean Al intake typically ranges from 2 – 17 mg/day, with a lower range of 1 mg Al/day naturally present in diets, whereas in some countries (Sweden, USA) the upper range of Al present in foods is about 100 mg daily, due to foods prepared with Al-containing additives. In the USA, restaurant pancakes were found to contain even up to 180 mg Al per serving. In Germany, the mean daily Al intake from all three sources amounted to 3 and 4 mg for adult subjects on a mixed and vegetarian diet, respectively. Dietary regulations: The provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) of the FAO/WHO is 0 – 7 mg/kg body weight equivalent to 0 – 1 mg/kg body weight and day. In the Member States of the European Union, the limit value for Al in drinking water has been set at 0.2 mg/l. In Germany, the use of Al-containing food additives is permitted for definite foods and specific purposes only, mostly to a limited extent. Intake from pharmaceutical preparations: The amount of Al taken by individuals as Al-containing pharmaceutical preparations (antacids, analgesics, anti-ulceratives, phosphate binders) is reported to be 126 – 5,000 mg daily. Conclusions: In Germany, the mean daily Al intake of 3 – 4 mg is about 5% of the upper range of the PTWI value, whereas in Sweden and the USA, the mean daily Al intake of 13 mg and 14 mg, respectively, is about 20% of this value. In both countries, the individual intake of 100 mg Al/day from foods prepared with Al-containing additives may exceed it by about 50%; in the USA, a pancake serving with 180 mg Al may exceed it even by 180%.

Author Details

Authors

  • U. Schäfer1
  • M. Seifert2

Departments

  • 1 Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University Jena,
  • 2 Federal Research Centre for Nutrition, Food, Institute for Biochemistry of Cereals, Potatoes, Detmold, Germany

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