Are there heavy metals in Real Salt?

Real Salt contains trace amounts of naturally occurring elements, including some metals, that are very different from human-made heavy metals.

We appreciate your dedication to eating mindfully and limiting your exposure to heavy metals in your diet. We’re very careful about the foods we use to fuel our bodies too. 

We also recognize that heavy metals occur naturally in our environment. They’re present in our air, water, and soil, and as a result, there are trace amounts in nearly all of our food.

Since consuming trace amounts of heavy metals in food is ultimately unavoidable, we usually consider three factors when choosing our food: the form of the heavy metal, the amount we’re getting from a particular food, and the health benefits of the food. Let’s break each of these factors down further.

Form Matters

Spend a few minutes researching nutrition and you quickly realize that form matters. Whether the fat, sugar, and carbs on your daily menu are “good” or “bad” depends on where they come from, what form they are in, and how the body responds to them. 

For example, a healthy person can regularly eat a medium avocado without much concern about the 22 grams of fat it contains. But your body will respond very differently if you regularly consume the 23 grams of fat in a large McDonald’s Fries. The difference is the amount of processing and the form of the fat, or how the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that make up all types of fat are bound to each other. 

Minerals and metals are very different from fats, but the form still matters. You won’t find pure sodium or chlorine in nature. In their natural form, they are bound to other minerals (including each other to make sodium chloride or table salt). But if humans intervene to refine them into their pure form, they become highly reactive and dangerous.

How does this apply to Real Salt? If you look at the Real Salt Elemental Analysis, you’ll see that Real Salt contains trace amounts of 65 minerals, including a few “heavy” metals. All of these elements were put there by Mother Nature (we would never add heavy metals to our products) millions of years before humans began making refined products or polluting the earth. 

The naturally occurring elements in Real Salt are typically bound to other elements and present in an inert form that’s generally considered safe rather than the humanmade form, which tends to be more harmful to people and the environment.

Salt Is Only A Small Piece of the Diet Puzzle

Many of our favorite fruits and veggies contain heavy metals they absorb during the growing process, including kale, lettuce, onions, spinach, and carrots, just to name a few. Metals are also present in the water that we drink. Salt makes up a very small percentage of our diet compared to the food and water we ingest daily.

If you’re a person who weighs 180 pounds, you might eat three to four pounds of food per day, drink six to seven pounds of water, and consume six grams of salt (for perspective, there are 453 grams in one pound). Government safety limits or action levels for different heavy metals in food and water are based on how much of that food and water a person is likely to consume.

Lead provides a good example of how this plays out with a specific metal. If you drink about 75 oz. of water per day and that water contains 5 ppb of lead (far less than the 15 ppb action level set by the EPA for lead in water), you’d be getting 11 micrograms (µg) of lead daily from water. Compare that to salt.

In our Real Salt Elemental Analysis, we note that we only find lead occasionally in Real Salt. Some third-party tests don’t detect any lead, but instead of listing an average of all the tests, we list the highest amount that’s ever been found, rounded up, which is 200 parts per billion (ppb). Now consider how much salt you consume.

If salt has 200 ppb, someone who eats six grams of salt per day (which is probably more than most people consume), would only be getting 1.2 micrograms (µg) of lead. In other words? The trace amount of lead in salt accounts for a very, very small percentage of the lead you’re ingesting overall.

Keep Things in Perspective

Since trace amounts of metals are present in so many whole, healthy foods, there are only two ways to avoid them: stop eating these foods or eat the refined, processed version of these foods where metals (and many healthy minerals and nutrients) have been removed.

We don’t know about you, but neither of these options sounds good to us. By avoiding these foods or turning to more processed versions of them, we miss out on healthy nutrients that our bodies need to thrive, which is probably worse for us than ingesting trace amounts of metals. 

We don’t necessarily agree with the FDA on everything, but it makes a point in the discussion about heavy metals in our food that makes a lot of sense. On its page discussing lead in food, the FDA observed, “Testing results that detect lead do not necessarily mean the food should be avoided." Additionally, in providing general information about arsenic in food, the regulatory agency notes that "good nutrition can also help protect from the effects of exposure to contaminants."

In other words? The ideal goal may not be to avoid foods that have any amount of metals in them. A more realistic and manageable goal is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. The nutrition we get from healthy foods can actually help our bodies process metals that naturally occur in those foods. 

The Take Home Message

We take our customers’ well-being very seriously, and we would never sell a product that wasn’t properly tested and proven to be safe. We’ve been mining and selling Real Salt for decades and have a passionate community of customers who've experienced amazing benefits from it.

Here's a copy of our latest mineral analysis in case you want to take a closer look. We also have articles that provide a more in-depth discussion about some of the elements that are present in trace amounts in Real Salt, such as lead, aluminum, and iron. Read those to learn more about our perspective on metals in food and, specifically, Real Salt.