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Lucius

Poppy seeds yay or nay?

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I'm thinking of adding 36 grams of ground poppy seeds to my OMAD because they are an excellent source of calcium and a decent source of zinc. Has anyone here done their research on them and could tell me whether there are any health risks associated with them? I'm planning on eating them every day.

Edited by Lucius

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The first concern would be the possibility of being exposed to morphine/codeine. It's not necessarily present in all poppy seeds but there are many seeds on the market with high levels. I found this paper with a really thorough assessment of morphine content and the biological impact of that: 

Update of the Scientific Opinion on opium alkaloids in poppy seeds

Quote

The CONTAM Panel established an acute reference dose (ARfD) of 10 μg morphine/kg body weight (bw) based on the lowest known single oral therapeutic dose of 30 μg morphine/kg bw and applying an uncertainty factor of 3 for extrapolation from the lowest‐observed‐effect‐level (LOEL) to a no‐observed‐effect level (NOEL) considering that the LOEL was derived from patients and not from the general population.

  • In poppy seed samples, the highest mean MB concentrations were reported for morphine (147 mg/kg in the ‘high‐morphine’ group and 16.4 mg/kg in the ‘low‐morphine’ group) and thebaine (92.5 and 3.92 mg/kg, respectively) compared to codeine (22.7 and 2.88 mg/kg, respectively) and oripavine (20.0 and 2.14 mg/kg, respectively). For noscapine and papaverine, the mean MB concentrations were smaller and not exceeding 2 mg/kg.

  • Among consumers of poppy seeds, the average estimated poppy seed consumption from the Comprehensive Food Consumption Database ranged from 0.5 (Other children, Sweden) to 25 g poppy seeds/day (Adults, Hungary) in 44 population groups. Only in 7 population groups it was possible to calculate the P95 ranging from 1 (Other children, Sweden) to 55 g poppy seeds/day (Adults, Germany).
  • For morphine, under the MB scenario, the mean acute dietary exposure (based on the mean consumption and mean occurrence) for consumers only, ranged from 2.1 to 100 μg/kg bw per day across dietary surveys and age groups when considering the poppy seed samples from the ‘high‐morphine’ group. The P95 acute dietary exposure (based on the P95 consumption and P95 occurrence) ranged from 21 up to 330 μg/kg bw day. For the ‘low‐morphine’ group, the mean MB acute dietary exposure ranged from 0.2 to 11 μg/kg bw per day across dietary surveys and age groups and the P95 from 2.8 to 46 μg/kg bw per day. The mean acute dietary exposure was the highest for other children. Maximum exposure at the P95 was similar for all age groups for which data were available.
  • Exposure estimates are based on reported concentrations of alkaloids in poppy seed samples due to the low amount of occurrence data on food products containing poppy seeds. However, food processing steps (i.e. washing, soaking, heat treatment, grinding) may reduce the alkaloid content in raw poppy seeds by 25–100% in the final product. The group ARfD is most likely to be exceeded when large portions are consumed or if foods containing unprocessed poppy seeds are consumed.

The lowest known therapeutic dose is 1.9 mg for a 70-kg person and the acute reference dose would be 0.7 mg for that person. If you have high-morphine seeds, you could end up with as much as 5 mg morphine in 36 grams. Morphine content can be reduced by washing and possibly finding a high-quality source that tests their seeds.

Secondly I don't see any papers testing the bioavailability of the calcium in poppy seeds. The closest thing with experimental data is sesame seeds, which have 20% bioavailability. (from this paper). Cow's milk is 30% bioavailable. So you would just want to be aware of that when you're tracking your dietary intakes. Eating only one meal a day, you'd have to consider the oxalate content of the meal as well because foods with very high oxalates (like raw spinach) can block the absorption of calcium from foods eaten alongside them.

My personal move would be to not consume poppy seeds every day, since there are other seeds with more evidence for being beneficial like pumpkin, chia, and flax and no morphine concerns. Also, I just supplement calcium. 

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