At Kirkman® a huge amount of effort and pride into verifying the supplements we produce are free of harmful contaminants (including arsenic). These efforts require a conscious commitment of time, cost and technology. The processes performed are neither mandated by law nor performed to such an extent by any other company.
So why are we committed to testing our products?
Looking at the news can give us a hint: Recently it was revealed that the groundwater throughout Wisconsin was again displaying dangerous levels of arsenic.
Portland, Oregon is also currently having problems with arsenic. There, however, the arsenic is in the air. Recent measurements indicated levels were 159 times the acceptable amount as established by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Unfortunately, these cases are far from unique. And they are reminders that environmental contamination lurks virtually everywhere, and without appropriate vigilance these contaminants create obstacles to our health on an enormous scale.
Exposure to arsenic in high concentrations can cause almost immediate death. At lower concentrations, arsenic poisoning can result in severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. At lower concentrations, the arsenic can be eliminated from the body fairly quickly (though it can accumulate in the fingernails and hair), but long-term exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage. Arsenic is also highly carcinogenic.
For children, with their still developing neurological systems, the consequences are even more disturbing. Beyond being susceptible to all the effects mentioned above, studies have shown that long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water led to I.Q. reductions of five to six points among children in the third through fifth grades.1
Arsenic occurs naturally in both organic and inorganic forms. Simply put, organic arsenic is a molecule in which arsenic is bound to carbon atoms; in inorganic forms, it exists in a molecule where it is bound to atoms other than carbon—often hydrogen or oxygen. Within both groups, there are a number of possible variant molecular structures that can occur. While both organic and inorganic forms are toxic, inorganic forms tend to be more toxic than organic forms.
In Wisconsin, arsenic is common in the bedrock. However the arsenic levels in well water only became elevated after the water table dropped due to overuse of wells, combined with a drought. In Portland, human activity has had a more direct role in creating the air pollution: officials believe a local glass manufacturer is responsible for the arsenic levels.
Arsenic in the soil may be absorbed by plants; arsenic in the air will eventually drift down and settle either onto the ground or into water. In either case the arsenic has the potential to work its way into food products or into raw materials used to make nutritional supplements.
Arsenic can accumulate in the leaves of leafy plants, and it is often detected in seafood. So for nutritional supplements, this primarily can cause problems for herbal supplements, calcium and fish oil. Herbs are, by definition, leafy plants, and therefore prone to absorb arsenic if it’s present in the soil. Calcium is frequently produced using marine sources – oyster shells, for example. Fish oil, obviously, is sourced from fish, which can contain arsenic.
Because arsenic can so easily end up in our food and our nutritional supplements, Kirkman’s rigorous purity testing is vital to ensuring safe products. Arsenic is just one of twenty-four toxic metals for which Kirkman® tests. Every product Kirkman® manufactures (except for creams, oils and lotions) is verified to be free of these metals to detectable limits.
Kirkman’s Ultra Tested® protocol calls for testing every raw ingredient in every nutritional supplement it produces for more than 950 environmental contaminants. No other nutritional supplement company comes close to this level of commitment to producing pure, contaminant free supplements.
1. Wasserman, G., Liu, X., LoIacono, N., Kline, J., Pactor-Litvak, P., van Geen, A., Mey, J., Levy, D., Abramson, R., Schwartz, A., Graziano, J., “A cross-sectional study of well water arsenic and child IQ in Maine schoolchildren.” Environmental Health, 13:23 (2014). DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-13-23