Health & Fitness blog Uncategorized Arsenic in rice – is it a health hazard?

Arsenic in rice – is it a health hazard?

Rice, especially starch and flour from this cereal, as well as rice syrups are frequent ingredients in baby food. The specific physiology of this plant causes harmful arsenic compounds to accumulate in its seeds in much larger quantities than in other cereals. What should we pay attention to when choosing products containing rice, why shouldn’t young children be given food with rice bran, non-hulled rice and so-called “rice drinks”?
Arsenic (As) is an ubiquitous chemical element that occurs in nature in the form of organic and inorganic compounds, and its harmful effects are well known and described. It is well known that inorganic arsenic (III and V) compounds are more toxic than organic compounds. Also the bioavailability of arsenic from different chemical compounds varies. Organic forms of arsenic, which are most commonly found in fish and seafood, undergo little biotransformation after consumption and are excreted from the body in virtually unchanged form. On the other hand, inorganic arsenic compounds are well absorbed and metabolized.   Adverse effects of inorganic arsenic Long-term exposure to arsenic derived from inorganic compounds results in an increased risk of developing various types of cancer, including skin, bladder, lung, kidney, liver and prostate cancer. In addition, exposure to inorganic arsenic is accompanied by disorders of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, blood, respiratory, neurological, immune, reproductive and reproductive system functions and normal development. The exact mechanism of carcinogenic arsenic action has not yet been explained, however, it is assumed that it may include oxidative stress, inhibition of DNA repair mechanisms, abnormal signal transmission pathways and chromosome aberrations.   Arsenic content of rice Most of the available data on the arsenic content of food gives the total content of arsenic, without distinguishing between organic and inorganic arsenic, and this distinction is very important. Fish and seafood have a very high total arsenic content, but at the same time the inorganic arsenic content is low. Rice, on the other hand, has a high content of inorganic arsenic, which can account for up to 90% of the total arsenic content of the product. The data published in the scientific literature show that the content of inorganic arsenic in raw rice ranges from 0,1 to 0,4 mg/kg of dry matter. These values are significantly higher compared to other cereals, where the found total arsenic content varies e.g. in wheat and barley from 0.03 to 0.08 mg/kg and in other cereal species is below the detection limit. The arsenic content of rice is influenced by the type of soil on which it is grown and the species of rice. The higher arsenic content of rice compared to other cereals results from cultivation under anaerobic conditions in flooded fields and from the specific physiology of these plants, which allows arsenic to be taken up and isolated from the environment and to accumulate more arsenic than is present in the soil.  The arsenic content of rice varies according to the type and place of cultivation and the processing method. Brown rice is known to contain higher amounts of arsenic than white rice. In addition, the quality of the water used, which may be contaminated with arsenic compounds, has a significant impact on the level of arsenic in the ready-to-eat product. It should be noted that most inorganic arsenic is found in rice bran, which contains 10 to 20 times more arsenic than in whole grains. Therefore, the risk associated with food intake of arsenic is significantly higher in relation to rice bran and products made with it, such as rice drinks, crackers or rice flakes, compared to dehusked and polished (white) rice.   Inorganic arsenic intake with rice The consumption of rice varies across populations and age groups. Adults in European countries consume an average of 9 g of rice per day, which may result in an exposure to inorganic rice arsenic of 0.015 μg/kg body weight/day. In Asian countries, on the other hand, rice intake is estimated at 300 g/day, resulting in an exposure of more than 30 times higher (0.5 μg/kg bw/day). It should be noted that the exposure of infants and young children to rice inorganic arsenic is 2 to 3 times higher than adults. This is due to the fact that starch and rice flour as well as rice syrups are commonly added to foods intended for these age groups. Rice is a source of easily assimilable carbohydrates and has a neutral taste and relatively low allergenic properties.   Recommendations for the consumption of rice products in the group of infants and young children Infants and young children are much more exposed to contaminants in food. This is due to significantly higher food intake per kilogram of body weight than in adults, several times higher absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and also due to faster metabolic processes. Levels of contaminants that do not pose a risk to adults, infants and children may also be dangerous because of the not fully mature immune system, which does not

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