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Lead in Calcium Supplements

H. J. Roberts, MD
JAMA. 2000;284(24):3126. doi:10.1001/jama.284.24.3123.
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To the Editor: In his Editorial, Dr Heaney1 states that there is little cause for alarm about lead contamination of calcium supplements. However, the ongoing use of such contaminated products, especially dolomite and bonemeal, can have serious neurologic, gastrointestinal, cutaneous, and hematologic effects. In a previous report,2 I countered his criticism of Ross et al3 who "do not demonstrate the dangers they fear." Lead-related complications are compounded for pregnant women, older persons attempting to prevent or minimize osteoporosis, and children with suspected milk allergy. A US Food and Drug Administration official stated, "However, individuals who consume more than two to three times the recommended dose of bonemeal would be at greater risk if the lead content of the particular bonemeal product is high."4 I have previously underscored the wide variations in individual batches.2

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