Toxicity of cadmium and its health risks from leafy vegetable consumption
Cadmium (Cd) is a highly toxic heavy metal and has spread widely in the environment in recent decades. This review summarizes current knowledge about Cd contamination of leafy vegetables, its toxicity, exposure, health risks, and approaches to reducing its toxicity in humans. Leafy vegetable consumption has been identified as a dominant exposure pathway of Cd in the human body. An overview of Cd pollution in leafy vegetables as well as the main sources of Cd is given. Notable estimated daily intakes and health risks of Cd exposure through vegetable consumption for humans are revealed in occupational exposure areas and even in some reference areas. Vegetable consumption is one of the most significant sources of exposure to Cd, particularly in occupational exposure regions. Therefore, numerous approaches have been developed to minimize the accumulation of Cd in leafy vegetables, among which the breeding of Cd pollution-safe cultivars is one of the most effective tools. Furthermore, dietary supplements from leafy vegetables perform positive roles in alleviating Cd toxicity in humans with regard to the effects of essential mineral elements, vitamins and phytochemicals taken into the human body via leafy vegetable consumption.