Association between mediterranean diet and metal(loid) exposure in 4-5-year-old children living in Spain

L Notario-Barandiaran*, A Irizar, M Begoña-Zubero, R Soler-Blasco, G Riutort-Mayol, A Fernández-Somoano, A Tardón, M Casas, M Vrijheid, A Meharg, M Carey, C Meharg, K Ralphs, C McCreanor, J O Grimalt, J Vioque, A J Signes-Pastor*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Even relatively low levels of metals exposure may impact health, particularly among vulnerable populations such as infants and young children. However, little is known about the interplay between simultaneous metal exposures, common in real-life scenarios, and their association with specific dietary patterns. In this study, we have evaluated the association between adherence to Mediterranean diet (MD) and urinary metal concentrations individually and as an exposure mixture in 713 children aged 4-5-years from the INMA cohort study. We used a validated food frequency questionnaire to calculate two MD indexes scores: aMED and rMED. These indexes gather information on various food groups within the MD and score differently. To measure urinary concentrations of cobalt, copper, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, lead, and cadmium as exposure biomarkers, we used inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), coupled with an ion chromatography (IC) equipment for arsenic speciation analysis. We applied linear regression and quantile g-computation, adjusted for confounders, to analyse the association between MD adherence and exposure to the metal mixture. High adherence to MD such as the quintile (Q) 5 MD was associated with higher urinary arsenobetaine (AsB) levels than Q1, with β values of 0.55 (confidence interval - CI 95% 0.01; 1.09) for aMED and 0.73 (CI 95% 0.13; 1.33) for rMED. Consumption of fish was associated with increased urinary AsB but reduced inorganic arsenic concentrations. In contrast, the aMED vegetables consumption increased urinary inorganic arsenic content. A moderate level of adherence to MD (Q2 and Q3) was associated with lower copper urinary concentrations than Q1, with β values of -0.42 (CI 95% -0.72; -0.11) for Q2 and -0.33 (CI 95% -0.63; -0.02) for Q3, but only with aMED. Our study, conducted in Spain, revealed that adhering to the MD reduces exposure to certain metals while increasing exposure to others. Specifically, we observed increase in exposure to non-toxic AsB, highlighting the significance of consuming fish/seafood. However, it is crucial to emphasize the necessity for additional efforts in reducing early-life exposure to toxic metals, even when adhering to certain food components of the MD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116508
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date01 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2023

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Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Inc.


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