Heavy Metals in Your Protein Powder Could Be Making You Sick

Protein supplements are growing in popularity within the sports supplement industry. They’re a convenient option for those of us who live active lifestyles or are constantly on the go and need a fast dose of nutrition. 

We all know the immediate side effects that too many protein powders can have on the body, but what about the long-term effects that commonly fly under the radar? 

If you drink protein powders on a regular basis, you might start developing health complications that could potentially be deemed “mysterious”. 

The truth is when it comes to protein powders nearly all of them contain at least trace amounts of heavy metals including: 

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Arsenic

This contamination is likely due to the processing of ingredients and the equipment that comes in contact with them at the manufacturing facilities. Though, not all of this can be blamed on manufacturing. Most plant proteins hold higher quantities of metals because of their efficiency in absorbing them from the soil. Even certified organic plants were found to contain high levels of these metals and chemicals such as BPA. 

What This Means for Your Health 

When you are constantly exposed to these heavy metals over long periods of time they can accumulate in your body and burden the tissues of your vital organs. Depending on where the buildup of toxins takes place impacts the type of symptoms a person can develop. For example, if the metals build up within the brain tissues, memory and cognitive function can be impaired. Likewise, if a buildup persists within the lining of the intestines and colon a person’s digestion will be compromised. The way a person’s symptoms present themselves will be dependent on the type metal that is causing toxicity as well as the organs that are being affected. However, symptoms of metal toxicity can range from mild headaches to the development of Alzheimer’s.

In this recent study researchers found that mountain lions in the Santa Cruz area had decreased fertility after being exposed to sublethal levels of mercury. Researchers believe the mercury was traced from a toxic marine fog off of the California coast. With the evidence that mercury is inflicting harm on these mountain lions it’s only reasonable to be cautious of the potential effects mercury may have on our own health. 


There are some blood tests that can be run to determine levels of metals and trace minerals within your body but like sediment that sinks to the bottom of a cup, the metals may be inactive, providing an inaccurate reading. Hair tests can often provide metal analysis or mineral deficiencies that typically result from metal toxicity, however, avoiding known sources of heavy metals is the best practice.


How to Find Out if Your Protein Powder is Safe

If you’re curious whether or not your protein powders contain these heavy metals, you can use websites like Labdoor that perform 3rd party testing on multiple brands of protein as well as other sports supplements. This is where I discovered my own protein failed ‘the metal test’ and rated very low compared to other companies. Not all companies are tested and listed on Labdoor so if you don’t see the one you use; you can request to have them test it. 

CleanLabel is another website that will list full reviews of protein tests along with the current “Best Five” and “Worst Five” proteins on the market. 

The Takeaway
Reviewing a product analysis through third party testing is the best way to ensure you are consuming a high-quality protein powder. Remain a conscious consumer and take that extra step before making your purchase. Your body will thank you. 

In order to make the supplement world a cleaner place you can go to CleanLabel.com and sign the petition to make FDA regulations stricter on informing the public about heavy metals and other contaminants.