Daily intake of heavy metals and minerals in food – a case study of four Danish dietary profiles

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Bioaccumulation of heavy metals (HMs) in the food supply chain is a crucial environmental and health issue in need of urgent risk reduction action plans. This study assesses the daily intake of four HMs, i.e. cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic, and four minerals; chromium, nickel, selenium and zinc. 456 Danish food items were grouped in six food categories (grains, fruits and vegetables, oils and condiments, food rich in fats, sugar and alcohol, milk and dairy and protein-rich). A model of four different Danish diets (standard, carnivore, vegetarian and vegan) is presented. The probability of exceeding the provisional tolerable daily intake (PTDI) of HMs and minerals for the four different Danish diets were calculated applying a Monte Carlo approach. While the sources to the total intake differ, there is no significant differences in the risk of exceeding the PTDI across the four dietary profiles. The risk of exceeding the PTDI across the four dietary profiles was on average 60%, 17% and 16% for cadmium, mercury and lead respectively. For total arsenic the risk of exceeding the provisional daily intake was 33%. Concerning minerals, the average probability of exceeding the recommended daily intake was 29% for chromium, 80% for selenium, 73% for nickel and 0% for zinc. Regarding the toxic limit value the probability was 12% for chromium, 17% for selenium, 52% for nickel and 0% for zinc. The results of our study emphasize the importance of implementing measures to reduce the risk cycle of HMs threatening environmental health and food safety.
TidsskriftJournal of Cleaner Production
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2021


  • Monte Carlo, micro-pollutants, heavy metals, daily intake, Danish diets, Food safety

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