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Are there any dangerous ingredients in protein powder?

This question is about Nutrition
Sarah Achleithner
There can be dangerous ingredients in protein powder, as some are notorious for containing contaminants such as BPA, lead and other heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, and mercury.
One study tested 133 protein powder products and found that 40% of them had elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead [1]. Another report also discovered that 70% and 74% of their test products contained measurable levels of lead and cadmium, respectively [2]. Additionally, plant-based protein powders tended to have higher levels of heavy metals than animal-based protein powders [1].
When ingested in large quantities, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead have been associated with adverse human health effects, potentially including carcinogenesis, neurotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and reproductive issues [1,3]. 
While this sounds concerning, science may say otherwise. Despite the fact that heavy metals are found in some protein powders, studies have shown that the amounts present in these products don’t pose an increased risk to your health [1]. 
When choosing a protein powder, look for those that have been third-party tested, since this is a good way to ensure that what you see on the nutrition label is what you get in the powder. Read more about our third-party testing process at Elo here
Chocolate protein powder in a clear scoop on a black background

References:

  1. Bandara, S. B., Towle, K. M., & Monnot, A. D. (2020). A human health risk assessment of heavy metal ingestion among consumers of protein powder supplements. Toxicology reports, 7, 1255–1262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxrep.2020.08.001
  2. Protein powder study infographic. Clean Label Project. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2022, from https://www.cleanlabelproject.org/protein-powder 
  3. Bernhoft R. A. (2012). Mercury toxicity and treatment: a review of the literature. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012, 460508. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/460508