Daily intakes of 17 metals (boron, aluminium, chromium, manganese, nickel, copper, zinc, arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, cadmium, antimony, lead, uranium, magnesium, calcium, and iron) via drinking water and total diet were investigated in six cities in Japan. The daily metal intakes were estimated and compared with tolerable daily intake (TDI) values proposed by the WHO or Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives for toxic metals and with recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) or adequate intake (AI) values proposed for essential metals by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Among the 13 toxic metals, mean dietary intakes of 10 (except arsenic, selenium, and molybdenum) were less than 50% of TDI, suggesting that for these 10 metals the allocation of intake to drinking water in establishing guidelines or standards could possibly be increased from the normal allocation of 10–20% of TDI. For the 13 toxic metals, the contribution of drinking water to TDI was 2% or less in all six cities. Mean dietary intakes of the essential elements magnesium, calcium, and iron were less than the RDA or AI values. Drinking water did not contribute much to essential metal intake, accounting for less than 10% of RDA or AI.

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