How we could sleep better – in less time everyday

How we could sleep better – in less time everyday

We can now amplify the restorative benefits of sleep. Could this help us cope with later nights and early mornings?

We often wear our sleeplessness as a badge of pride – a measure of our impossibly hectic schedules. Thomas EdisonMargaret ThatcherMartha Stewart and Donald Trump have all famously claimed to get by on just four or five hours’ sleep a night – much less than the seven-to-nine hours recommended to most adults. Many of us are following suit: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of US adults fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis.

The consequences – including impaired memory and decision making, and increased risk of infection and obesity –  are well known, but easy to ignore. When our immediate demands exceed the hours in the day, sleep is still our top sacrifice.

But what if we were able to simply optimise the sleep experience so that we enjoyed most of the benefits of deep sleep, in less time?

This possibility may be closer than it sounds, thanks to new ‘sleep optimisation’ techniques. Various experiments across the world have shown that it is possible to boost the efficiency of the brain’s night-time activity – speeding up the descent into deep sleep and enhancing our rest once we get there.

It sounds almost too good to be true. Is it?

A slower beat

On a regular night, the brain cycles through many different stages of sleep, each with a characteristic pattern of ‘brain waves’, in which neurons in different regions of the brain fire together, in synchrony, at a particular rhythm. (It’s a bit like a crowd chanting or beating a drum in unison).

It is notoriously hard to convince sleep-deprived people to make the necessary lifestyle changes

During the rapid eye movement (REM) phases that rhythm is fairly fast – during which time we are most likely to dream. But at certain points our eyes cease to move, our dreams fade and the rhythm of the brain waves drops to less than one ‘beat’ a second – at which point we enter our deepest, most unresponsive state of unconsciousness called ‘slow-wave sleep’.

It is this stage that has been of particular interest to scientists investigating the possibility of sleep optimisation.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, DStJ, PC, FRS, HonFRSC (née Roberts; 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013)
Margaret Thatcher is one of many powerful figures throughout history who have claimed to sleep on four or five hours a night, well below optimal levels.

Research since the 1980s has shown that slow-wave sleep is essential for the brain’s maintenance. It allows the necessary brain regions to pass our memories from short-term to long-term storage – so that we don’t forget what we have learnt. “The slow waves facilitate the transmission of information,” says Jan Born, director of the Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

The slow waves may also trigger the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid through the brain, flushing out potentially harmful debris that could cause neural damage. They also lead to dips in the stress hormone cortisol and help to rejuvenate the immune system so that it is readier to fight incoming infections.

Such results led scientists including Born to wonder whether we might therefore be able to enhance the benefits of sleep and improve our daytime functioning by boosting the production of those slow waves.

One of the most promising techniques to do so works a bit like a metronome counting the brain into the correct rhythms. Experimental participants wear a headset that records their brain activity and notes when they have started to make those slow waves. The device then plays short pulses of gentle sound, beginning in sync with the brain’s natural slow waves, at regular intervals over the night. The sounds are quiet enough to avoid waking the participant, but loud enough to be registered, unconsciously, by the brain.

the right brain rhythms, deepening the slow-wave sleep compared with people receiving sham stimulation
More companies are chasing ways to help customers achieve the deep, ‘slow-wave’ sleep that’s essential for memory and brain maintenance

Born has led much of the experimental work, finding that this gentle auditory stimulation is just enough to reinforce the right brain rhythms, deepening the slow-wave sleep compared with people receiving sham stimulation. Participants wearing the headset performed better on memory tests, showing increased recall for material they had learnt the day before. It also altered their hormonal balance – reducing their cortisol levels – and led to an improved immune response.

In the trials to date, participants haven’t yet reported unwanted responses to the technique. “We can’t really be sure, but so far there are no obvious side effects,” says Born.

Better sleep, in a store near you

Most of the studies attempting to boost slow-wave sleep have been conducted on small groups of young, healthy participants, so to be certain of the benefits of boosting slow-wave sleep, we would need to see larger trials on more diverse groups. But based on the existing evidence, the technology has already made its way into a handful of consumer devices, mostly in the form of headbands to be worn overnight.

The French start-up Dreem, for instance, has produced a headband (available for around €400 or £330) that also uses auditory stimulation to boost slow-wave sleep using a similar set-up to the scientific experiments – effects have been confirmed in a peer-reviewed trial. The Dreem device also connects to an app that analyses your sleep patternsand offers practical advice and exercises to help you get a better night’s rest. These include things such as meditation and breathing exercises that might ensure you get to sleep quicker and with fewer awakenings during the night. The aim is to improve overall sleep quality across the night for anyone who feels that they could do with a deeper rest.

Philips sound-based SmartSleep system aims to maximize the benefits of adequate rest
Electronics giant Philips is also getting in on the sleep aid game: its sound-based SmartSleep system aims to maximize the benefits of adequate rest

Philips’s SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband, in contrast, is very explicitly aimed at making up for some of the ill-effects of sleep deprivation – for people “who, for whatever reason, are simply not giving themselves an adequate sleep opportunity”, says David White, Philips’ chief scientific officer.

The device was first launched in 2018, and like Dreem’s product, it is a headband that senses the brain’s electrical activity and periodically plays short bursts of sound to stimulate the slow oscillations that are characteristic of deep sleep. It relies on smart software that carefully adapts the volume of its sound over time to ensure that it delivers the optimum level of stimulation for the specific user. (The device is currently only available in the US for $399.)

White agrees that the device cannot fully replace a full night’s sleep, but he says that it is notoriously hard to convince sleep-deprived people to make the necessary lifestyle changes. By amplifying the benefits of the sleep they do manage to get, this device should at least help them to function better in daily life. Along these lines, Philips’s own experiments have reportedly confirmed that the SmartSleep boosts slow-wave sleep in sleep-deprived people, and that it mitigates some of the immediate effects like poorer memory consolidation.

Future research may suggest many more innovative ways to optimise our sleep. Aurore Perrault at Concordia University in Montréal has recently tested a gently rocking bed that swayed back and forth every four seconds.

Participants were quicker to enter slow-wave sleep, and spent more time in that crucial sleep cycle, as the brain waves synchronised with the external movement

She says that the technique was inspired by a colleague’s new-born baby being rocked to sleep, leading the team to wonder whether adults may also benefit from gentle movement. Sure enough, they found that the participants were quicker to enter slow-wave sleep, and spent more time in that crucial sleep cycle, as the brain waves synchronised with the external movement. As you might hope, they also reported feeling more relaxed at the end of the night, and this was again accompanied by the expected knock-on benefits for their memory and learning. “That was the cherry on the top,” says Perrault.

If such a bed were brought to market it could serve a similar purpose to the sound-stimulating headbands. Perrault is particularly interested whether it might help older people. The amount of time we spend in short-wave sleep seems to decline as we age, potentially contributing to some age-related memory problems – and she hopes that gently swaying beds may be one way to counteract that.

Still, get some sleep

Although the field is still in its infancy, these studies show that there is a lot of promise in the general concept of sleep optimisation to increase the power of our slumbers (however much or little we get).

Perrault and Born are both optimistic about the potential of the commercial products using pulses of sound to stimulate those regenerative slow waves. Perrault emphasises that we still need larger studies to ensure their effectiveness outside the carefully controlled conditions of the lab – but she welcomes that this research could now benefit a wider population.

“It’s great that they’re trying, more and more, to use external stimulation because we know that it impacts sleep,” says Perrault.

In the future, it will be interesting to see whether sleep optimisation could also bring benefits in the long term. We know that chronic sleep loss can increase the risk of conditions like diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease – but it’s by no means clear that these new techniques will help reduce those risks.

For now the only guaranteed way of reaping all the benefits of sleep – both long and short-term – is to make sure you get enough of it. Whether or not you decide to give these devices a try, you should attempt to schedule more early nights, and avoid too much alcohol, caffeine and screen time before bed – factors that are all known to damage the quality of our sleep.

Our brains cannot function without a recharge – and anyone hoping to live a happy, healthy, productive life needs to wake up to that fact.

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DID YOU KNOW?!

Lumin UVC Disinfection

Lumin UVC works on multiple household items!

Although a great way to disinfect CPAP masks and water chambers, the Lumin is not limited to disinfecting only CPAP items. Any non-living item which can fit inside the Lumin tray can be disinfected. This includes common items such as dentures, toothbrushes, hearing aids, small children toys and many more!

Lumin UVC sanitizes personal items!

Although a great way to disinfect CPAP masks and water chambers, the Lumin is not limited to disinfecting only CPAP items. Any non-living item which can fit inside the Lumin tray can be disinfected. This includes common items such as dentures, toothbrushes, hearing aids, small children toys and many more!

What can you put in the Lumin UVC?

RemoteHearing AidPacifiers
Tooth BrushPensDentures
PhoneSwim gogglesEyeglasses
CPAP MaskCPAP TubingToys
And many more!

You can use the Lumin UVC to disinfect any required item that safely fits into the drawer!

The Multi-Purpose Disinfecting Machine

What is Lumin UVC Sanitizing System - Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner?
Lumin UVC Sanitizing System – Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner
2 Year Warranty Lumin UVC
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Lumin UVC Sanitizing System – Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner

What is Lumin UVC Sanitizing System - Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner?

The Lumin UV Light Sanitizing Device from 3B Medical is a safe and effective alternative to harsher, more expensive devices on the market today used to sanitize HOME & Medical equipment. In other words the Lumin UVC uses a powerful amount of UV light contained inside of a fail-safe chamber to kill bacteria in just five minutes.

Lumin UVC Sanitizing System - Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner
Lumin UVC Sanitizing System – Lumin CPAP Interface and Accessories Cleaner

Lumin UVC – Disinfection & Cleaning

What is Lumin UVC?

Lumin is the easiest and fastest way to clean a CPAP mask and accessories. At first Lumin works with a cleaning cycle time of 5 minutes. Equally important NO harmful ozone, and a 99.9% kill rate for harmful bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus. It is the ideal high margin retail accessory for a DME servicing CPAP patients.

DISINFECTION – Cleaning

Quick 5 Min cleaning – Interface Disinfection

Lumin UVC works by emitting high energy light within a narrow spectrum referred to as UV-C. The device relies on a low-pressure, mercury-arc germicidal lamp designed to produce the highest amounts of UV light – where 90% of energy is generated around 254nm. Especially the dose of UV-C emitted in one 5-minute cycle is sufficient to kill most bacteria and mold on a surface.

RELIABILITY

UV Light kills 99% of Bacteria

UV light will disinfect up to 99% of harmful bacteria, pathogens, and fungi that can cause infection and illness. Lumin UV light is also the safest disinfection option on the market, there is NO HARMFUL OZONE.

SAFETY

Safe and Easy to Use

The 5-minute ozone FREE cleaning cycle with no need for water or harmful chemicals. Specifically makes Lumin the safest and easiest choice for interface and accessory cleaning.

ECO-FRIENDLY

No Harmful Ozone

The use of UV-C is environmentally friendly, leaves no residue or toxic gases or chemicals. For example UV-C systems are currently in use to disinfect ambulances, emergency service vehicles and other high touch areas.

AFFORDABLE

Reasonably Priced

Above all a fair and reasonable price of a Lumin UVC is fair to patients. One of our most popular items. Perfect for everyday use. Exceptional quality and choice. Lumin CPAP mask cleaner and sanitizer is a clever financial investment for anybody who needs to maintain CPAP devices clean and sanitized. In conclusion the device features an appropriate cost, it is easy to run and requires no maintenance whatsoever.

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CPAP Devices Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare

CPAP Devices - Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare
Sleep with an IntelliPAP®2 AutoAdjust® CPAP System - DV64 Series
Living well shouldn’t be hard. Find out how the Canadian can reducing costs, enhancing efficiency and improving quality of life. To advance the well-being of everyone in society.

You talked, we listened, everyone gets what they need. The DeVilbiss IntelliPAP® Platform has been designed with patients and providers in mind, incorporating many of the recommendations solicited through research to optimize patient comfort and adherence. The IntelliPAP combination of comfort, education and adherence tracking with SmartCode® and SmartLink® as well as the patented comfort feature called SmartFlex® help to ensure patient compliance – all in a highly efficient platform that makes great business sense for providers.

DeVilbiss Healthcare manufactures a range of IntelliPAP devices to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB).

IntelliPAP®IntelliPAP Standard Plus®IntelliPAP AutoAdjust®IntelliPAP Bilevel S®IntelliPAP AutoBilevelIntelliPAP®2 Standard Plus® CPAP SystemIntelliPAP®2 AutoAdjust® CPAP System
DV51 SeriesDV53 SeriesDV54 SeriesDV55 SeriesDV57 SeriesDV63 SeriesDV64 Series
Pressure Settings 3–20 H20 cm xxx  xx
Pressure Settings 3–25 H20 cm   xx
While Breathing Compliance xxxxxxx
Event Detection xxxxxx
SmartFlex Exhale Pressure Relief  xx  xx
Patented Flow Rounding  xxxxxx
Automatic Leak Compensationxxxxxxx
Auto ON and Auto OFFxxxxxxx
Visual Mask Off Alertxxxxxxx
Onboard Filter Clean Reminderxxxxxxx
Remote Control Capabilities xxxxxxx
Integrated Heated Humidifierx (HH model)x (HH model)x (HH model)x (HH model)x (HH model)x (HH model)x (HH model)
Compliance Quick CodeSmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode SmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode
Detailed Usage DataSmartLinkSmartLinkSmartLinkSmartLinkSmarLinkSmarLinkSmarLink
Data Transfer via Memory CardSmartLinkSmartLinkSmartLinkSmartLink SmartLinkSmarLinkSmarLink
Remote Compliance Data RetrievalSmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode SmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode
Remote Efficacy Data Retrieval SmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode SmartCodeSmartCodeSmartCode
PulseDose Breath Patternxx
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Sleep Tips and Advice

Sleep Tips and Advice

Do you like to have a weekend lie-in or a nightcap before going to bed? These habits could actually be harming your sleep.

Relax your mind

  • Simple breathing exercises can help. Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for three seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Practise this for ten minutes at night (five minutes is better than nothing).
  • Some people find that lavender oil, valerian or other herbs help them to sleep.
  • If you still have problems, you could try massage, aromatherapy, or even acupuncture.
  • If you still find yourself tossing and turning, abandon the bedroom and find something enjoyable and absorbing to do. Jigsaws are perfect. Don’t go back to bed until you begin to feel sleepy.
Relax your Mind
Relax your Mind

Exercise regularly

  • Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. Just be careful not to do it close to bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
  • This being the case, exercising in the morning is an excellent way to wake up the body. Going for a run or doing some aerobics releases stimulants into the body, which perks you up.
  • If you are injured or disabled, you can still benefit from exercise. Check out disability exercise tips.
Exercise regularly
Exercise regularly

Create a calm bedroom environment

  • Your bedroom should be for sleep only. Avoid turning it into an entertainment centre with televisions, computers and stereos.
  • Two thirds of children have a computer, games machine or TV in their bedroom and could be losing out on sleep as a result.

Avoid alcohol

  • It’s fine to have a nightcap, but too much alcohol can make you restless. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate (never welcomed during the night).
  • Drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow into the lungs. This reduces oxygen in your blood which disturbs your sleep and contributes to your hangover.

Avoid caffeine

  • Caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in your system for many hours. So avoid sources of caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, cola drinks and non-herbal teas.

Watch what you eat

  • Eating a large heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep.
  • Spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night.
  • Foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
  • If you get the munchies close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread or grain, cereal will do the trick.
Cereals - Watch what you eat
Cereals – Watch what you eat

Set a regular bedtime and wake up time

  • Create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps anchor your body clock to these times. Resisting the urge for a lie-in can pay dividends in alertness.
  • If you feel you haven’t slept well, resist the urge to sleep in longer than normal; getting up on schedule keeps your body in its normal wake-up routine.
  • Remember, even after only four hours, the brain has gained many of the important benefits of sleep.

It’s only natural

  • Most of us have a natural dip in alertness between 2 – 4pm.
  • A 15 minute nap when you’re tired can be a very effective way of staying alert throughout the day. Avoid napping for longer than 20 minutes, after which you will enter deep sleep and feel even worse when you wake up.

See a doctor if your problem continues

Ask us about FREE screening
Ask us about FREE screening:

If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, snore, or stop breathing during sleep you might have a sleep disorder. It is advisable to seek more advice from your doctor. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.

Sleep apnea, also spelled sleep apnoea, is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep
Sleep Advice – improve your quality of life, organic solutions

Sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. It causes your airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, or have a family history or small airways. Children with enlarged tonsils may also have it.

Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results.

A person may not be aware that his/her sleep is interrupted throughout the night due to snoring or obstructions. This is because he/she may not be fully conscious during these occurrences. However if a person feels drowsiness during the day, he/she should consult a doctor about getting a sleep study. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents, and other medical problems. If you have it, it is important to get treatment. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces and surgery may help treat sleep apnea in many people if their diagnosis is mild. But if the diagnosis is moderate to severe, CPAP is the gold standard of treatment for optimal results.

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What are Routes of Exposure to Nitrates and Nitrites?

Testing with EcoVisor F4 (Nitrate Tester, Dosimeter, EMF meter, TDS meter)

The primary routes of exposure to nitrates and nitrites may differ depending on occupational and non­ occupational factors. Non-occupational factors may include:

  • Age,
  • Diet,
  • Medications,
  • Hobbies (such as gardening, arc welding, etc.),
  • History of inhalational drug use,
  • Source of drinking/cooking water and how it is supplied,
  • Outdoor activities,
  • The chemical form of the nitrates and nitrites.
Routes of Exposure to Nitrates and Nitrites
Routes of Exposure to Nitrates and Nitrites

Occupational and Paraoccupational Exposures

Occupational exposure occurs primarily through the inhalation and dermal routes. Explosive and fertilizer industry workers may be exposed to nitrate through inhalation of dusts containing nitrate salts. Dusts can also dissolve in sweat exposing skin to concentrated solutions of the salts. Farmers may experience periodic exposures depending on their activities, especially with regard to the handling of fertilizers. Exposure of family members to nitrates from dusts brought home on work clothes has been reported.

Non­-occupational Exposures

The primary route of non-occupational exposure is ingestion of water or foodstuffs that contain high levels of nitrates or nitrites. Inhalation exposures may occur from inhalant drug use and dermal exposures may occur from some topical medications. These would be special instances and not the primary routes of exposure for the general population.

Key Points

  • Primary occupational routes of exposure to nitrates and nitrites include inhalation and dermal routes.
  • The primary route of exposure to nitrates and nitrites for the general population is ingestion.
  • Inhalation and dermal exposures have been reported in non-occupational settings under certain circumstances, but are not the primary routes of exposure for the general population.
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Where are Nitrates and Nitrites found?

Testing with EcoVisor F4 (Nitrate Tester, Dosimeter, EMF meter, TDS meter)

Understanding the environmental fate of nitrates and nitrites may help pinpoint potential sources of exposure. This would be important in assessment of patient exposure risk, prevention and mitigation of nitrate / nitrite overexposure and in the prevention of adverse health effects from exposure.

Environmental Nitrogen Cycle

In general, the following describes the activity of nitrates and nitrites in the environment. Microbial action in soil or water decomposes wastes containing organic nitrogen into ammonia, which is then oxidized to nitrite and nitrate.

Environmental Nitrogen Cycle
Environmental Nitrogen Cycle
  • Because nitrite is easily oxidized to nitrate, nitrate is the compound predominantly found in groundwater and surface waters.
  • Contamination with nitrogen-containing fertilizers (e.g. potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate), or animal or human organic wastes, can raise the concentration of nitrate in water.
  • Nitrate-containing compounds in the soil are generally water soluble and readily migrate with groundwater.

Water Contamination

Shallow, rural domestic wells are those most likely to be contaminated with nitrates, especially in areas where nitrogen-based fertilizers are widely used.

Water Contamination
Water Contamination
  • Approximately 15 percent of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies which are not subject to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, although some state and local governments do set guidelines to protect users of these wells.
  • In agricultural areas, nitrogen-based fertilizers are a major source of contamination for shallow groundwater aquifers that provide drinking water.
  • A recent United States Geological Survey study showed that 7 percent of 2,388 domestic wells and about 3 percent of 384 public-supply wells nationwide were contaminated with nitrate levels above the EPA drinking water standard of 10 parts per million (ppm) or 10 mg/L.
  • Elevated concentrations were most common in domestic wells that were shallow (less than 100 feet deep) and located in agricultural areas because of relatively large nitrogen sources, including septic systems, fertilizer use, and livestock.
  • Although suppliers of public water sources are required to monitor nitrate concentrations regularly, few private rural wells are routinely tested for nitrates.
  • During spring melt or drought conditions, both domestic wells and public water systems using surface water can show increased nitrate levels.
  • Drinking water contaminated by boiler fluid additives may also contain increased levels of nitrites.
  • Mixtures of nitrates / nitrites with other well contaminants such as pesticides and VOCs have been reported.

Food Contamination

Nitrate and nitrite overexposure has been reported via
ingestion of foods containing high levels of nitrates and nitrites. Inorganic nitrates and nitrites present in contaminated soil and water can be taken up by plants, especially green leafy vegetables and beet root.

Food Contamination Nitrate in Vegetables
Food Contamination Nitrate in Vegetables
  • Contaminated foodstuffs, prepared baby foods, and sausage / meats preserved with nitrates and nitrites have caused overexposure in children.
  • Although vegetables are seldom a source of acute toxicity in adults, they account for about 80% of the nitrates in a typical human diet.
  • Celery, spinach lettuce, red beetroot and other vegetables have naturally greater nitrate content than other plant foods do.
  • The remainder of the nitrate in a typical diet comes from drinking water (about 21%) and from meat and meat products (about 6%) in which sodium nitrate is used as a preservative and color- enhancing agent.
  • For infants who are bottle-fed, however, the major source of nitrate exposure is from contaminated drinking water used to dilute formula.
  • Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food. It is monitored for nitrates, nitrites and total nitrates / nitrites.

Nitrate Content of Selected Vegetables

VegetableNitrate contentmg / 100g fresh weight
Celery, lettuce, red beetroot, spinachVery High (> 2500)
Parsley, leek, endive, Chinese cabbage, fennelHigh (100-250)
Cabbage, dill, turnipMedium (50-100)
Broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, pumpkinLow (20-50)
Artichoke, asparagus, eggplant, garlic, onion, green bean, mushroom, pea, pepper, potato, summer squash, sweet potato, tomato, watermelonVery Low (<20)

Other Sources of Exposure

Nitrate or nitrite exposure can occur from certain medications and volatile nitrite inhalants.

Nitrate or nitrite exposure from certain medications
Nitrate or nitrite exposure from certain medications

Accidental and inadvertent exposures to nitrites as well as ingestion in suicide attempts have been reported.

Deliberate abuse of volatile nitrites (amyl, butyl, and isobutyl nitrites) frequently occurs. Amyl nitrite (nicknamed by some as “poppers”) is used commercially as a vasodilator and butyl / isobutyl nitrites can be found in products such as room air fresheners.

Fatalities have been reported in adults exposed to nitrates in burn therapy; however infants and children are especially susceptible to adverse health effects from exposure to topical silver nitrate used in burn therapy.

Other medications implicated in methemoglobinemia include:

  • Quinone derivatives (antimalarials),
  • Nitroglycerine,
  • Bismuth subnitrite (antidiarrheal),
  • Ammonium nitrate (diuretic),
  • Amyl and sodium nitrites (antidotes for cyanide and hydrogen sulfide poisoning),
  • Isosorbide dinitrate/tetranitrates (vasodilators used in coronary artery disease therapy),
  • Benzocaine (local anesthetic), and
  • Dapsone (antibiotic).

Other possible sources of exposure include ammonium nitrate found in cold packs and nitrous gases used in arc welding.

An ethyl nitrite folk remedy called “sweet spirits of nitre” has caused fatalities.

Key Points

  • Shallow, rural domestic wells are those most likely to be contaminated with nitrates, especially in areas where nitrogen based fertilizers are in widespread use.
  • Other nitrate sources in well water include seepage from septic sewer systems and animal wastes.
  • Foodstuffs high in nitrates, home prepared baby foods, and sausage/meats preserved with nitrates and nitrites have caused overexposure in children.
  • Nitrate or nitrite exposure can occur from certain medications and volatile nitrite inhalants.
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