Trace Determination of Total Copper and Zinc in Kales and Spinach from Nairobi Supermarkets and Open Air Market

Zinc and copper are two trace minerals essential for important biochemical functions and necessary for maintaining health throughout life. Zinc is essential for growth and cell division, fertility, improved immune system and enhancing taste, smell and appetite while copper is vital for efficient communication between nerve cells, maintenance of strong bones, growth of blood vessels and cholesterol balance. However, deficiency or over dosages of these trace metals poses health problems.  Symptoms associated with deficiency of these essential minerals include; poor sense of taste or smell, stretch marks, acne, white spots on the nails, hair loss, poor immunity and dry skin among others. Over dosage may lead to gastrointestinal reactions, headache, drowsiness, respiratory difficulty, liver and kidney failure. Vegetables are some of the food products which contain these essential minerals and their consumption is of great importance. The aim of this study was to determine the total content of these trace metals in kales and spinach from Nairobi stores. Samples were picked from 6 sites namely; uchumi, Nakumatt, Tuskys, Naivas, Muthurwa market and club 36 mini market. They were digested through classical wet decomposition method and analyzed using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer.                                                                                             Results obtained showed that the concentration of the analyzed metals ranged from 10.11 – 60.78 mg/kg for zinc and 0.36 – 7.09 mg/kg for copper. In some samples, the concentrations were below the detection limits for copper. All the values obtained were below the maximum permitted concentrations proposed by FAO/WHO but some were below the minimum permitted levels. The vegetables were found to be safe for human consumption since they didn’t contain toxic levels of these two trace metals though some where deficient. Regular monitoring of these trace minerals in food products is essential to ensure that the right amounts are being consumed.

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