Have you seen the very recent web blitz on heavy metals (particularly thallium) in cruciferous vegetables (particularly kale)?

Image Credit: Media Mike Hazard/ flicker

Have you seen the very recent web blitz on heavy metals (particularly thallium) in cruciferous vegetables (particularly kale)?

jack p/ Originally posted in Diverticulosis: When Our Most Common Gut Disorder Hardly Existed


A new Care2 post has surfaced about thallium poisoning and kale. A great article in VOX lays out the background. The claims that kale has high loads of thallium stem from this 2006 study, where kale was grown in soil contaminated with thallium. Apparently the author of this study was asked about its findings and he responded to the author of the VOX article stating “To get even close to toxic levels, you’d need to plant the kale in soils with high levels of the heavy metal. (Most soils only have very low levels of thallium, he told me.) Then they’d need to accumulate a lot of it in their leaves — which doesn’t always happen. Thallium is differently bound in different soils and therefore from different soils with the same thallium content, different availability of thallium was reported” 

Furthermore, one of our site users, Darryl, always finds great studies on various topics. His comment and study links on heavy metals in soils from different countries have been super helpful!

Now, someone can eat too much raw kale due to goitrogenic compounds, but cooked doesn’t seem to be a problem. Find out how many cups of kale may be too much?

It does seem that the cruciferous vegetable family is better at accumulating thallium than other vegetables, as evident by this paper and others. However, to say that all soil is contaminated and we must worry about thallium poisoning before eating our kale and cabbage seems far fetched. 

Image Credit:Media Mike Hazard/ flicker


4 responses to “Have you seen the very recent web blitz on heavy metals (particularly thallium) in cruciferous vegetables (particularly kale)?

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  1. Reading Townsend letter, January and February 2016, Dr. Rosenbaum explains how he identified kale consuming patients with cardiac dysthymias due to thallium in organic Kale. Organic standards changed, allowing coal ash mixed in chicken manure to be considered organic. This coal ash can be very high in thallium and is taken up by cruciferous vegetables in high enough amounts to make those consuming 8-10 servings of vegetables daily quite ill. When kale consumption stopped, thallium levels fell.
    Our local organic farmers will be working with researchers to make certain that local kale is not affected.
    For now, I can no longer recommend kale from unknown organic sources to my patients.
    Buying from local farmer who does not use unknown manure source that may be contaminated with coal ash, or growing your own kale may be “work-arounds ” for this potentially serious poison in our kale due to faulty organic standards.


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  3. My story of high thallium from leafy greens: I saw a naturopathic dr for two years (stopped about two years ago) who recommended your diet. I followed it as best I could for a year, eating lots of cruciferous veggies, especially cabbage. I only ate kale a couple of times during that period. Not happy with that dr, I switched to a functional medicine MD. When she tested my metals, it came back with very high thallium, which she said was from leafy greens. It has been difficult to find research as this is just beginning to be identified, but I have unfortunately avoided leafy greens and crucifers since then. I am very confused about my diet now, but the worst part is knowing that many of the healthy foods are contaminated with this toxic metal, especially organic produce. Hoping safe options are made known.

  4. Tory,

    I’d like to suggest a read of this article on the subject: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kale-poisoning-heavy-metal-mother-jones_n_55bab86be4b06363d5a19db9

    It would be worthwhile to see if indeed your levels have dropped relative to your change in diet. Have you addressed the canola oil and tested for other sources ?

    Thallium in the soil and water may indeed be an issue and testing would be worthwhile. As to the change in diet….adequate veggies are a must and not an option. Reducing the cruciferous veggies for your situation may be prudent.

    I think you will appreciate some additional information on a study, albeit on rats, regarding chelation agents and thallium. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654193/

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.Centerofhealth.com

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