In recent years, greens powders have gained immense popularity as a convenient and nutrient-dense option to supplement our daily intake of fruits and vegetables. These powders, derived from a blend of plant-based ingredients like wheatgrass, spirulina, and leafy greens, promise a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, lurking beneath this facade of healthiness lies a potential danger: heavy metals contamination.
This article aims to shed light on the presence of heavy metals in greens powders, the associated health risks, safe consumption levels, and the importance of third-party testing.
We have a list of 3rd party tested greens here. That means that they've been proven to be safe from heavy metal contamination, unfortunately not all greens powders are.
What Are Heavy Metals In Food?
Heavy metals, characterized by their high density, can be found naturally in the soil and certain vegetables. While some heavy metals like iron and zinc are relatively safe in small quantities, others pose a significant risk to human health.  Among them, cadmium and lead stand out as the most dangerous heavy metals commonly found in greens powders. Cadmium, a potent carcinogen, can cause severe damage when ingested or inhaled. Lead, notorious for its cumulative effects, can lead to various health issues, including joint pain, learning disabilities, and nausea.
Ensuring the safety and purity of the supplements we consume is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous companies prioritize their own profits over the well-being of their customers. This is particularly concerning when it comes to greens powders, which are often marketed as healthy and beneficial. However, many of these products contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, which can have serious health implications.  Underlying the significance of third-party testing for heavy metals in greens powders, and why it is crucial to prioritize safety when choosing these supplements.
Proposition 65: A Limited Warning
To address concerns regarding toxic chemicals, California passed Proposition 65,  requiring companies to provide warnings about the presence of certain substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. However, these warnings often lack specific information about the flagged materials, leaving consumers in the dark. While Proposition 65 plays a role in raising awareness, it is crucial to seek additional information from reliable sources to understand the potential risks associated with greens powders.
Assessing the Risk: Heavy Metals in Greens Powders
Scientific studies have confirmed that heavy metals can contaminate vegetables grown in polluted soil,  raising concerns about the safety of greens powders. A recent study conducted by an independent testing organization, conducted tests on various greens powders and found instances of heavy metals contamination. A 2016 test revealed lead contamination in four out of thirteen products, with one product also containing cadmium and another arsenic. A more recent 2019 test discovered lead contamination in one out of ten products.  While the prevalence of contamination has reduced, it remains a significant concern.
Safe Levels of Consumption
Determining safe levels of heavy metals consumption is a critical aspect in understanding the potential risks associated with greens powders. Regulatory bodies such as the FDA have established guidelines for lead, arsenic, and cadmium. For instance, the FDA recommends a maximum daily intake of 2.2 micrograms of lead for children and 8.8 micrograms for adults. Arsenic in drinking water should be below ten parts per billion, equivalent to a maximum daily dose of 35 micrograms. Cadmium should be present in food and drugs at levels lower than 0.1 parts per million. 
Understanding the Need for Third-Party Testing
The growing demand for greens powders has led to an influx of manufacturers entering the market. While many companies prioritize consumer health, some unscrupulous ones prioritize profit over safety. Unfortunately, the USDA Organic Certification Program,  which certifies organic supplements, does not have specific limits for heavy metal contamination. This regulatory gap allows certain manufacturers to cut corners in their production processes, leading to products with high levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic.
To address this issue, third-party testing has emerged as a crucial step in ensuring the safety of greens supplements. Third-party testing involves independent organizations examining and approving supplements, providing an unbiased evaluation of their composition. These nonpartisan organizations play a vital role in rebuilding public trust and enabling consumers to make informed choices based on accurate labeling and ingredient information.
The Role of Clinical Evidence
Apart from heavy metals concerns, greens powders often claim various health benefits, such as detoxification and alkalization. It is important to evaluate these claims critically and seek scientific evidence to support them. Ingredients like chlorella and spirulina,  commonly found in greens powders, have been studied for their potential health benefits. However, it is essential to consult reliable sources and understand the limitations of these studies before attributing miraculous properties to greens powders.
The Role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a vital role in monitoring and regulating the levels of heavy metals in food, supplements, and other consumer products. The FDA recognizes the potential health risks associated with high levels of lead and other heavy metals, and therefore sets guidelines and regulations to protect consumers.
While it is impossible to completely eliminate heavy metals from the food supply, the FDA works to restrict exposure and ensure the safety and purity of ingredients. The agency conducts research and monitoring programs to evaluate the levels of heavy metals in various food groups, including nutritional supplements like greens powders.
To protect public health, the FDA has established the Interim Reference Level (IRL)  as the maximum daily intake of lead from food and supplements. The IRL is set at a level that aims to prevent blood lead levels from reaching harmful concentrations. For children, the daily limit is 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), while for adults, it is 12.5 µg per day.
It is important to note that the FDA intentionally sets the IRL at a level ten times lower than the amount that would cause serious harm. This takes into account potential differences in population groups, such as ethnicity and socioeconomic factors. Pregnant women, in particular, should be cautious about lead exposure as it can pose risks to the unborn baby.
Choosing Safe and Reliable Greens Powders
When selecting greens powders, it is crucial to prioritize safety and quality. Considering factors like ingredient transparency, manufacturing processes, and third-party testing can help you make an informed choice. All of the greens powders we recommend have either publicly or upon our request demonstrated valid certificates of third party testing for heavy metals.
Embracing a Healthier Future
As the demand for greens powders continues to rise, it is essential for manufacturers to prioritize consumer safety by implementing rigorous testing protocols. Likewise, consumers must take an active role in understanding the potential risks associated with heavy metals contamination. By staying informed, making educated choices, and supporting the growth of transparent and reliable brands, we can embrace a healthier future with greens powders.
Are Greens Powders Safe From heavy Metals?
Greens powders offer a convenient way to supplement our daily intake of essential nutrients. However, the presence of heavy metals poses potential health risks that cannot be ignored. By being aware of safe consumption levels, seeking products with third-party testing certifications, and critically evaluating health claims, you can navigate the greens powder market with confidence. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and with the right knowledge, you can enjoy the benefits of greens powders while minimizing the risks of heavy metals contamination.
1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144270/
2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560920/
3 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2367711/
4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9407870/
5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4961898/
6 - https://www.fda.gov/food/environmental-contaminants-food/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements
7 - https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic
8 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824145/
9 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35690180/