Mineral Content of Food Supplements of Plant Origin, by Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence: A Risk Assessment

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The aim of this study is to evaluate the elemental composition of six food supplements of plant origin, commonly sold in the Portuguese market, by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence. The presence of arsenic in all the Maca, Ashwagandha, Camu-Camu and Hemp protein samples (except the generic form) is a reason of concern due to the long-term effects of As mainly in its inorganic form. Thus, great caution must be taken on some food supplements, particularly the cases of Moringa from Egypt and Yellow/Xpresso Maca, whose inorganic As concentrations are in line with the upper bound concentration for the 95th dietary exposure according to the European Food Safety Authority which is 0.64 μg/kg bw/day. In what regards Hemp protein, if the supplier’s daily intake recommendation (30 g) is followed, values as high as 1.75 μg/kg bw/day of inorganic As will be consumed, which are dangerously above the upper bound. In this case this specific supplement lot should be removed from the market. Also the consumption of Hemp protein leads to a daily intake of Mn above the Daily Reference Intake (DRI) and Adequate Intakes (AIs) for adults. The contamination of Goji berries by Pb is a reason for concern—organic berries contained 11.3 μg/g while berries derived from conventional agriculture 11.6 μg/g, leading to daily intake doses of 315.3 μg and 324.8 μg, respectively, if the recommended daily intake of 28 g is followed. Our findings point out to an inadequacy of the recommended intakes by the supplier vis a vis the concentrations observed, greatly increasing the risk for public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-927
JournalExposure and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Food supplements
  • Mineral composition
  • Risk assessment
  • X-ray fluorescence


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