Be care­ful eat­ing char­coal

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FROM THE COVER - Spencer Whit­ney, as­sis­tant ed­i­tor

In pur­suit of the lat­est ad­vances in health, nu­tri­tion and beauty, some peo­ple are tak­ing a dark turn — to ac­ti­vated char­coal. While it comes from the same ma­te­rial as grilling char­coal, it’s burned at a much higher tem­per­a­ture to pro­duce a fine pow­der. Ac­ti­vated char­coal is now be­ing used for skin treat­ments, detox and even whiten­ing teeth. In­gest­ing it does have some pos­i­tive medic­i­nal ef­fects, such as if you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a drug over­dose, ac­ti­vated char­coal binds to your gut and can pre­vent tox­ins from be­ing ab­sorbed into your sys­tem. Sans a drug over­dose, how­ever, it’s in­di­gestible and eat­ing ac­ti­vated char­coal can strip your body of nec­es­sary vi­ta­mins and an­tiox­i­dants as well as cer­tain med­i­ca­tions you may take for birth con­trol. The science is still ques­tion­able over whether tak­ing ac­ti­vated char­coal pills will help with gas and in­stead leave you con­sti­pated, so it might not be the best idea to take them af­ter ev­ery meal.

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