The pink salt of the Himalayas: benefits or danger?

Toxic chemicals, whether man-made or terrestrial, can have adverse effects on your activities and long-term health.

So you buy the highest quality products and do your research to make sure you are protecting your family from toxic overload. And then an article appears in your Facebook feed that makes you question your choices. Is the healthy food you are eating really toxic?

Many readers have asked me about an article that discusses the toxicity of lead in Himalayan salt.

Let’s take a closer look and see if it’s true or not.

FLINT, MICHIGAN ON A GLOBAL SCALE? NO.

In 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan found toxic lead in their tap water, with levels up to 13,000 times the allotted amount (which is zero for drinking water) in some homes. Two years later, the situation has not changed much.

The blog post mentioned above posited that if 5 parts per billion (ppb) of lead is considered a health concern in drinking water, and there really is no safe exposure to lead, then the lead content of pink Himalayan salt (about 100 parts per billion in a spectral analysis) is downright toxic and that it is irresponsible to recommend Himalayan salt as an upgrade to normal table salt.

The author extrapolated that by consuming Himalayan salt, you are actually getting “a dose of lead 20 times greater than that which harms the people of Flint, Michigan.”

THE SHORT REBUTTAL:

Most natural mineral supplements and foods contain a small amount of heavy metals], but if your body is functioning well, you are well equipped to eliminate them and as long as you get your food from trusted companies that don’t add contaminants in the form of plastics, heavy metals, etc. during processing, you don’t have to worry.

Now let’s get down to the details. Here are two reasons why you shouldn’t fear your pink salt:

YOU DON’T EAT MUCH OF IT.

Lead is a natural element, not only in the environment, but also in our bodies and in most of the foods we eat. It is present in the soil, in the air you breathe, and at more toxic levels in man-made objects, such as old pipes and paint produced before 1978.

On average, you probably consume between 5 and 10 mcg of lead each day, much of which comes from seafood and foods grown in high lead soils. Adults absorb 3-10% of the lead they consume, while children absorb much more (40-50%). Small amounts of lead are virtually unavoidable.

This certainly does not mean that heavy metals are safe. But spectral analysis shows that lead in pink salt is about 0.10 ppm, well below the legal limit of 0.50 ppm. Water with 0.10 ppm lead would be a huge problem because you drink a few quarts a day but you don’t eat quarts of salt. You probably eat a few teaspoons at most. There’s not a lot of lead in there and if you’re an adult, you’re only taking in 3 to 10%.

It doesn’t make sense to compare lead in salt to lead in water.

WHERE DOES LEAD HIDE?

A group of researchers examined the lead levels in various foods in more than 14 European countries. Their findings show that lead is present in coffee, meat, seaweed supplements, various grains, sugars, fruits, tubers, etc. Many of the foods highlighted in the study as having higher lead levels are also foods that people consume much more than salt.

THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE RISKS

Before we buy into the pink Himalayan salt, let’s talk about some of its benefits.

Himalayan salt comes from ancient geological oceans, which may not have the same levels of pollution as the salts extracted from most of the world’s oceans today. Himalayan salt naturally contains over 84 trace elements, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron and zinc, among others. The quality salt is hand mined, without explosives, and tested for contamination.

The mineral content of pink salt doesn’t make much of a difference to your health, but it is an easy way to get extra nutrients in your diet. The minerals and other compounds in unrefined salt also give it a more complex flavor than table salt.

If you’re really worried about lead, you can switch to table salt, but it won’t do you much good. Manufacturers refine most table salts at high temperatures, stripping them of all bioavailable nutrients. They then bleach the salt, and many manufacturers treat it with anti-caking agents.

The result is a pure sodium chloride concentrate with no other minerals.

A NOTE ON HEAVY METAL CHELATION

The author of the pink salt article states that “the heavy metals in your body remain for life … there is absolutely nothing we can do to remove lead from the body with our current medical sense.”

She is wrong. Chelation therapy involves ingesting compounds that bind to heavy metals and removing them from your body. Even standard Western medicine has used chelation therapy for decades to treat heavy metal poisoning. If you think you have a build-up of heavy metals, I suggest you talk to a naturopath or functional medicine doctor about chelation. It is dangerous to go without a doctor’s supervision, but with medical guidance, it is very effective.

Expensive Himalayan salt is promoted as a panacea. However, a health advantage over conventional salt could not be confirmed so far.

The most important facts in brief:

Pink rock salt, consisting of 98% sodium chloride, contains traces of other minerals, unlike conventional table salt.
However, a particular health-promoting effect has not been proven and is not physiologically understandable, and it should not be advertised.
In France, iodine-enriched salt is the best alternative for many people, because the local population is not optimally supplied with iodine.
General recommendation: always use salt sparingly, no more than 6 grams per day.
Himalayan salt comes from salt deposits that were formed by evaporation and deposition from the primitive sea.

  • What is behind the advertising of Himalayan salt?
  • What should I consider when taking Himalayan salt?
  • Does the body need Himalayan salt?
  • What is behind the Himalayan salt advertisement?

You pay a lot of money for the attractive epithet “Himalaya”: at 4 or 5 euros per kilo, pink salt costs 5 to 10 times more than conventional table salt. The higher price is justified by the alleged health benefits.

For example, various advisors and websites praise Himalayan salt as a universal remedy for various diseases, such as gout or high blood pressure. It is also said to have a purifying effect and to regulate the acid-base balance in the body.

However, these advertising claims have not been scientifically proven. And with the exception of sodium and chloride, the daily mineral requirements are in no way covered by pink salt. The composition of Himalayan salt is 98% identical to that of conventional table salt. Only a few other minerals could be detected in trace amounts. The claim “rich in minerals” violates the ban on misleading advertising and the regulations on nutritional claims.

Himalayan salt, like Central European salt, comes from salt deposits formed by evaporation and deposition from the primordial ocean; the geological history of its formation is the same.

Most of the salt is not mined in the Himalayas themselves, but in industrial salt mines in central Pakistan. In a landmark ruling, the Federal Court of Justice (Case No. I ZR 86/13 of March 31, 2016) held that a supplier cannot advertise with the claim “salt from the Himalayan region” if the salt actually comes from the Pakistani province of Punjab, 200 kilometers away. Since then, salt offered in retail stores is usually labeled “from Pakistan” or simply called “crystal pink salt. Other names include primal salt, Karakoram salt or Hunza salt.

What should I consider when taking Himalayan salt?

Daily salt consumption from all sources should not exceed 6 grams.
Himalayan salt does not contain iodine. However, most French people do not consume enough iodine, so iodized salt is the healthiest option for many.

The use of Himalayan salt as bath salt is not a problem for healthy people.A really significant difference between conventional table salt and Himalayan salt lies in the transport routes.
An analysis by Stiftung Warentest showed that the sodium chloride content of Himalayan salt varies between 97 and 99%. Its composition is therefore very similar to that of conventional table salt, which has a sodium chloride content of about 98%.

The only difference from conventional table salt identified by the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety is a slightly broader spectrum of minerals. However, instead of the promised 84, the office found only 8 other minerals in addition to sodium and chloride – and most of them only at minimal traces. Compared to “normal” salt, Himalayan salt contains slightly more iron compounds, which are responsible for the slightly pink hue. Microscopic algae may also contribute to the coloring.

With the exception of sodium and chloride, the daily mineral requirements are by no means covered by this salt. Unlike iodized table salt, Himalayan salt does not contribute to iodine intake either.

In some advice books, it is recommended to drink Himalayan salt in the morning as brine (salt dissolved in water). This is supposed to balance the acid-base balance of the body. But the body regulates this on its own. The advice to use brine to lower high blood pressure is highly questionable from a health perspective, as it can not only disrupt metabolism and water balance, but also strain the kidneys. On the contrary, additional salt can further increase blood pressure in sensitive individuals.

It is recommended to consume no more than six grams of salt per day from food and table salt for seasoning. Since this amount is often exceeded anyway, additional consumption of Himalayan salt is not recommended.

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