As opposed to man-made chemicals such as pesticides, veterinary drugs or environmental pollutants that get into our food supply, toxins can be present due to their natural occurrence in food. Natural toxins found inherently in foods of plant and animal origins can be harmful when consumed insufficient quantities.
Common examples of natural toxins in food plants include glycoalkaloids in potatoes, cyanide-generating compounds in bitter apricot seeds and bamboo shoots, enzyme inhibitors and lectins in soya beans, green beans and other legumes.
Toxicants are produced by a variety of animals and plants and are widely distributed throughout each kingdom. The presence of toxicants in food may have come about because animals or plants evolved means of producing chemicals to protect themselves from predators, or insects, nematodes, microorganisms, or even humans. Overall, healthy individuals can tolerate naturally occurring toxicants. However, there are several conditions under which natural toxicants can create problems. Inborn errors of metabolism or certain drug interactions can make individuals prone to problems caused by natural toxicants.
Last modified: Thursday, 23 February 2012, 7:32 AM