We really are what we eat. Although nutrition cannot prevent young children from being poisoned by lead, certain foods can keep lead from being absorbed by the body.

Before we get to the food, it’s important to remember that more than 500,000 children each year are poisoned by lead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they span all economic groups. The only way to truly keep your children safe is to have your pre-1978 built home tested for lead. (Lead was banned from paint in 1978.) Hire only a licensed lead inspector to do the testing. In addition, have your children’s blood tested for lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning causes irreparable brain damage in children younger than seven. And although lead has been poisoning children for decades, it is not an old issue: It is here, it is now, and until every pre-1978 home or apartment has had all the lead removed, it is here to stay.

In the meantime, if you live in a pre-1978 build home, make sure your children’s diets are rich in:

Calcium keeps lead from being absorbed in the body. In addition, it helps make teeth and bones strong. Foods to include: low-fat milk, yogurt, tofu, cheese; foods made with milk (pudding, macaroni and cheese, pizza, cream soup); and green leafy vegetables (collards, spinach, kale, mustard greens, broccoli).

Iron also helps keep lead from being absorbed by the body. Foods to include: lean meats (beef, chicken, pork, goat); fish (sardines, tuna); cereals (Cream of Wheat, cereal with added iron, Infant cereal with added iron); beans (kidney, black); peanut butter; and dried fruits (raisins, dates, prunes).

Vitamin C helps iron do its lead-absorbing job. Foods to include: oranges, grapefruit, mangos, green peppers, tomatoes; and juices (orange, grapefruit, tomato).

Not only will these lead-blocking foods fight lead poisoning, your children will receive many other health benefits as well.