Shedding Light in the Darkness

Watch Out For Titanium Dioxide “Whitener” in Food


Last March, Dunkin’ Brands announced their powdered sugar donuts would no longer be manufactured with titanium dioxide, which is commonly used to whiten processed foods and personal care products. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration allows food products to contain up to 1% food-grade titanium dioxide without the need to include it on the ingredient label. So there’s a good chance we’re all eating it. There’s a problem.

Worldwide research has shown that titanium nanoparticles pose real health risks. These risks are related to increased oxidation or “rusting” of our cells and tissues. Oxidation caused by titanium nanoparticles damages our cells and DNA, and promotes inflammation and self-destructive immune responses.
Three years ago, scientists at Arizona State University tested 89 food and personal care products, looking for titanium dioxide. They tested white-colored sweets and dairy products, as well as personal care products such as toothpaste and sunscreen.
And they were surprised to find that titanium dioxide levels in personal care products ranged from 1% to almost 10% titanium by weight. Worse, they found that more than one third (36%) of the titanium dioxide used in the foods they tested were nano-sized particles. White candies and other white-colored sweets, such as doughnuts, had the highest titanium levels, with up to 340 milligrams (1/10 of 1 ounce) per serving.
The Arizona team found the highest levels in these categories of foods:
  • Candies with hard outer shells, such as M&Ms and white-coated chewing gums (like Chiclets).
  • Low-fat milk, soy drinks, rice-based drinks, mayonnaise, and processed white cheese singles.
And they found the highest levels in these categories of personal care products:
  • Toothpaste and sunscreens
  • White-colored shampoos, deodorants, and shaving creams.

Recently, researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln reported a disturbing discovery. They found that even modest consumption of titanium nanoparticles could harm the brain. “There’s evidence building up now that some of these particles can actually cross the (blood-brain) barrier,” said Oleh Khalimonchuk, the UNL biochemist who co-authored the study.

“We’re hoping that this study will get some discussion going, because these nanoparticles have not been regulated,” said co-author Srivatsan Kidambi. “If you think about anything white – milk, chewing gum, toothpaste, powdered sugar – all these have nanoparticles in them.

How can you avoid eating or applying titanium nanoparticles? Your best bet is to choose organic foods, and select “natural” or organic cosmetics that either don’t list it as an ingredient, or list no undisclosed coloring agents.

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