True Cellular Formulas Team - August 4, 2023

Beyond Taste

Unveiling the Hidden Toxicity in Our Favorite Beverages

Beyond Taste

In our modern age of convenience and variety, the average consumer is spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink options. From fruit juices to plant-based milks, teas to sodas, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to quenching our thirst. However, have you ever stopped to consider what might be hidden beneath the enticing labels and colorful packaging of your favorite beverages?

A recent study conducted by Tulane University has brought a crucial, yet overlooked, issue to the forefront. The research published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis revealed alarming levels of toxic metals in several commonly consumed beverages. This discovery serves as an eye-opening reminder that what we choose to consume may not always be as harmless as it seems.

Toxicity in Popular Beverages

The study undertaken by Tulane University was comprehensive in nature, investigating 25 different elements in 60 commonly consumed beverages, ranging from single and mixed fruit juices to plant-based milks, sodas, and teas.[1] The beverages, which are easily accessible in grocery stores and commercially available across the United States, were tested using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), a precise method for detecting low levels of metals.

The findings of the study are startling. The beverages tested contained a range of elements, with concentration ranges at the 95th percentile being from 0.06-5 µg/kg for toxic elements such as Thallium (Tl), Antimony (Sb), Thorium (Th), Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Cobalt (Co) and reaching up to 125-2000 mg/kg for essential elements like Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca), and Potassium (K).

However, it was the fact that seven of these 25 elements exceeded the drinking water standards in a significant percentage of the beverage samples that was particularly alarming. Nickel, Manganese, Boron, Cadmium, Strontium, Arsenic, and Selenium were found in quantities that surpassed the acceptable limits for drinking water in 38.3%, 36.7%, 16.7%, 5%, 5%, 3.3%, and 1.6% of the beverage samples, respectively. Additionally, Aluminum and Zinc exceeded the secondary non-enforceable drinking water standards in 40% and 6.7% of the samples, respectively.

Mixed fruit juices and plant-based milks were identified as the most common culprits, frequently containing elevated concentrations of most of the elements. Such a wide presence of toxic elements in these popular beverages presents a potentially serious health risk, especially for vulnerable populations like children and infants. The study's findings are a stark reminder of the often-overlooked issue of food safety and serve as an impetus to raise public awareness about what exactly is in the drinks we so frequently consume.

Risks and Dangers

Toxic elements, as their name suggests, can have a detrimental impact on health when consumed in excessive quantities. Each of the elements found in the beverages sampled in this study carries its own set of risks.

For example, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Lead, even in minute quantities, can have severe health implications. They are known carcinogens and are well-established to cause internal organ damage and cognitive harm.[2] The risk becomes exponentially higher for children, particularly during their early brain development phase.

Manganese, although an essential nutrient in trace amounts, can lead to neurological problems if consumed excessively.[3] Nickel, when ingested in high amounts, can lead to serious health issues such as decreased lung function, dermatitis, and even cancer.[4] Elements like Boron and Selenium, although needed by the body in small amounts, can become toxic at higher levels.[5]

These toxic elements found in beverages are believed to originate from contaminated soil where the fruits or plants used in these drinks are cultivated. As these elements are naturally occurring, complete elimination is nearly impossible. This makes the findings of the Tulane University study even more concerning, as it signifies that these toxins could be a widespread issue in our food and beverage supply.[1]

But it's important to note that the mere presence of these elements in our drinks doesn't automatically translate into a health hazard. The study emphasizes that toxicity is directly related to the dosage or volume of consumption, highlighting the necessity of understanding just how much is too much.

Moderation is Key

The axiom, "the dose makes the poison," rings particularly true in light of these findings. Even water, the elixir of life, can lead to water intoxication when consumed in extraordinarily high quantities. Therefore, while the presence of toxic metals in our beverages is undeniably concerning, it doesn't warrant an outright ban on these drinks.

The study suggests that unless individuals consume these beverages in large volumes, toxicity is unlikely. It’s more about maintaining a sense of balance and moderation in our consumption patterns. This is especially true for parents and caregivers who should exercise caution and moderation in providing these beverages to infants and young children, who are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of these toxins.

However, moderation alone won't be enough to tackle this issue at its root. For that, we need to delve deeper and understand more about these toxins in our food and beverage supply chain. It’s clear from this study that regular monitoring of these elements in beverages is crucial for food safety, and a consistent effort is required to ensure transparency and adherence to standards.

Looking Forward

As the study highlighted, there is a crucial need for regular monitoring of these toxic elements in our beverages. Food safety goes beyond just checking for bacteria and other microorganisms; it involves a detailed analysis of what else we might inadvertently consume with our chosen drinks. And this study from Tulane University sets the stage for exactly that.

While the findings are disconcerting, they also serve as a catalyst for a comprehensive examination of our food and beverage industry's practices. As consumers, we must demand transparency and strict adherence to safety standards in the production and sourcing of our drinks.

The research team is also planning further work in this area, intending to conduct a risk assessment based on the data collected. This future study aims to understand better the impacts of consuming toxic metals, not only for adults but crucially for children. As Tewodros Godebo, the lead author of the study, pointed out, this research is just the beginning of a larger investigation into what's in our commercially sold food and drink.

Furthermore, in an effort to provide better nutritional advice, the results of these regular checks can provide critical data for health and nutrition experts. Understanding the potential risk factors involved in our everyday dietary choices enables them to provide more nuanced and accurate guidance.

Ultimately, this is about more than just the beverages we consume. It's about the bigger picture of food safety, public health, and our continuous pursuit of a healthier life. With regular monitoring and stricter adherence to safety standards, we can work towards a future where our beverages are as safe as they are refreshing.


As we take a step back and look at these findings, it's clear that our choices matter. We must be informed consumers, aware of what we put into our bodies, and vigilant about the potential risks. This study is a step towards that - an eye-opener to a problem that was hitherto overlooked.

There's no need for panic, but there is a call for awareness and action. We must hold our food and beverage industry accountable, demand transparency, and advocate for safety standards that protect us all. After all, what we consume directly impacts our health and wellbeing, and we deserve to enjoy our favorite beverages without fear.

Just as the findings of this study serve to raise awareness about what we're consuming, so should we use this knowledge to influence our choices and habits? Whether we're sipping a mixed fruit juice, plant-based milk, or any other beverage, let's do so with the confidence that comes from making an informed choice. Cheers to that!

  1. Godebo, Tewodros Rango, et al. “Toxic Metals and Essential Elements Contents in Commercially Available Fruit Juices and Other Non-Alcoholic Beverages from the United States.” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, vol. 119, 2023, p. 105230, doi:10.1016/j.jfca.2023.105230.
  2. Balali-Mood, Mahdi, et al. “Toxic Mechanisms of Five Heavy Metals: Mercury, Lead, Chromium, Cadmium, and Arsenic.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 12, 2021, doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.643972.
  4. Genchi, Giuseppe et al. “Nickel: Human Health and Environmental Toxicology.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 17,3 679. 21 Jan. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijerph17030679
  5. Trace Elements - Diet and Health - NCBI Bookshelf,