Many have heard about uranium being present in the foods we eat derived naturally from the soil. Do we have to account for the calories of this uranium? Can the calorie content of uranium have any impact on weight?
There are 20 million kilocalories (kcals) in 1 gram of uranium but only after it is broken down to release energy by a process called nuclear fission.
However, while you might feel this is a large amount of calories, they mean nothing in terms of dietary value since the human body cannot process uranium and it serves zero nutritional value to humans.
Read on to learn more.
Calorie Contents of Uranium
1 gram of uranium contains 20 billion calories (C), but it is important to mention that these are not actually calories that can be utilized by your body.
Dietary calories are measured in kilocalories or kcals. This means 1 gram of uranium would contain 20 million kilocalories as 1 kilocalorie = 1,000 calories (C).
While it is true there are 20 million kilocalories in a gram of uranium, there is actually no dietary benefit of uranium. Your body cannot utilize metals for energy.
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Many individuals who live near nuclear reactors are concerned about there possibly being sources of radioactive metals such as uranium present in their food and drinks.
However, uranium is actually found naturally in the earth, and there is a high chance that uranium can be present in food items that come from soil.
The calories that are derived from uranium serve no nutritional value such as the calories that come from the actual dietary foods you eat.
Difference Between Physics Calories and Dietary Calories
Calories used in physics and dietary calories are not created equal and physicists measure energy in calories a little bit differently than the calories printed on food labels.
A physics calorie or small calorie (C) is the amount of energy it takes to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Physicists prefer to utilize Joules for measurement.
It takes 4184 Joules to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius which is the same as saying it takes 4184 Cals to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
1 C = 4.184 joules which is a tiny amount of energy.
Now, in terms of dietary calories, 1 C equals 1 kCal or Kilocalorie.
A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a kilogram (2.2lbs) of water by one degree Celsius.
This means that food calories are actually 1000 times larger than physics calories. This is why they are known as large calories.
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While this may be extremely confusing to most people, the only thing you need to remember is that calories and kcals are always used interchangeably and refer to the same amount of energy in relation to food or energy burned by the body.
You don’t need to convert them, just remember: 1 kilocalorie equals 1 calorie in nutrition.
When you think of calories as used by your body, these are actually kilocalories or kcals and are the types of calories you will see on a nutrition label. There is no need to focus on small calories, which are used by physicists.
While our bodies need to breakdown the energy from food to utilize it, uranium must also be broken down. This is done with a process called Nuclear Fission.
Nuclear Fission Process
Nuclear fission is a process where an atom is split into two or more smaller atoms. This process also releases a large amount of energy.
Nuclear fission can only be done in a nuclear reactor, and the uranium must be enriched first. This process is not something that can happen inside the human body.
Uranium enrichment is the process of increasing the concentration of uranium-235. This is the type of uranium that can be used for nuclear fission.
Uranium-235 is a concentrated source of energy and must be broken down in this process.
What Exactly Is Uranium?
Uranium is a radioactive metal that is found in small amounts in the environment. It can be found in water, air, and soil.
Uranium is naturally present at low levels in all rocks, soils, and waters. In fact, the earth also contains other naturally occurring radioactive elements such as radium, radon (gas), thorium, and polonium for example.
The average concentration of uranium in the Earth’s crust is about 2.8 parts per million (ppm).
This means that if you took a sample of rock that weighed 1 million grams (about 2200 pounds), it would contain about 28 grams of uranium.
Uranium is not found by itself in nature but is always combined with other elements such as oxygen, carbon, and sulfur.
What Is Uranium Used For?
We discussed that uranium is naturally present in soil, and this uranium is mined from the earth and can be used for a variety of purposes.
Uranium was actually first discovered in the year 1789 by German Chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth with its radioactive ability being discovered in 1896.
Uranium is used primarily as fuel for nuclear reactors to create electricity. It is also used in the medical field and for research purposes.
A small amount of uranium was previously used to make some types of jewelry and ceramic glazes and colorant due to its yellow hue, however there have been other methods discovered for this purpose in current years.
Uranium is also used in some types of cancer treatment and in certain industrial applications by utilizing radioactive isotopes.
Uranium is also used in the military, where it is used to make weapons and can also power equipment such as submarines and ships.
Vegetables, fruits, grains, and meat can all contain uranium depending on where they were grown or raised as uranium is naturally occurring in soil.
Is There Uranium In Food?
There are small amounts of uranium present in food derived from natural sources such as soil, but your body is not able to break these calories down to be used as energy.
This particular Study shows the total intake of uranium from food and fluids in adult humans appears to be about 1-1.5%.
The majority of uranium in food is found in grain, vegetables, and water. This is due to the fact that these are both items that come into contact with soil which contains uranium.
While there are trace amounts of uranium in food, it is not something that you need to worry about as your body cannot process it and it is not present in very large amounts that would pose a threat.
The Body’s Breakdown of Macronutrients
Your body breaks down energy from macronutrients known as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These nutrients are found in food and are necessary for your body to function.
In terms of calories, these major macronutrients contain the following calories:
- Carbohydrates – 4 calories per gram
- Fats – 9 calories per gram
- Proteins – 4 calories per gram
Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is then used for energy. Fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol, and proteins are broken down into amino acids.
Uranium does not contain these macronutrients that your body needs to function.
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Uranium is a metal, and therefore cannot be broken down by your body to be used as energy. If you were to eat uranium, it would simply pass through your system and be excreted in your feces.
Also, it is important to know that there is no need to worry about uranium in food as it poses no threat to your health when consumed in extremely small amounts.
You would need to consume an incredibly large amount of uranium for it to have any negative effects on your health.
Can Calories From Uranium Make You Gain Weight?
Consuming uranium that is found naturally in the environment cannot cause weight gain.
If you broke down the amount of calories in uranium that you would find naturally in the foods you eat based on the fact that there are 20 million kcals per gram of uranium, this would mean on average you would only be ingesting about 5-6 calories of uranium per day.
However, this means nothing in terms of weight gain or weight loss. This is because your body is not actually utilizing the calories ingested from uranium as the body cannot utilize these calories for energy.
Weight loss or weight gain is determined only by a calorie deficit or a calorie surplus of dietary calories that come from actual foods, not metals.
Do You Need To Track Calories From Uranium?
You absolutely do not need to track the calorie content of uranium. In fact, tracking calories from traces of uranium ingested would be impossible.
When tracking calories for weight loss or even weight gain, you only need to track calories from the major macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Uranium contains none of these macronutrients, therefore it cannot affect your weight in any way.
The only time you would need to worry about uranium is if you were consuming large amounts of it on a regular basis.
However, this would be impossible as uranium is not present in large enough quantities in any food or drinks.
Even if you were to consume large amounts of uranium, it would not be possible for your body to process these calories as energy.
To put it simply, the calorie content of uranium means absolutely nothing as it relates to overall calories ingested.
Can The Uranium Found In Food Harm You?
The uranium found naturally in foods derived from the earth will not cause harm to your body.
While uranium can be harmful if consumed in large quantities causing conditions such as lung cancer or kidney damage, the trace amounts found in food will not cause any harm to your body and the majority of it will be excreted in feces.
Your body cannot process uranium and utilize it as fuel, so these very small amounts ingested naturally will simply pass through your system and be excreted.
The only time uranium can cause bodily harm is when it is ingested in high amounts, which will not occur by consuming vegetables, grain, and water from natural sources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of commonly asked questions many have when it comes to the caloric contents of uranium and other radioactive metals.
Q: How Many Calories Are in a Bite Of Uranium?
There are on average 2-3 calories in a bite of uranium based on the amount of calories present in an entire gram (20 billion calories.) However, these calories do not need to be counted as the body cannot process calories derived from uranium.
Q: How Much Protein Does Uranium Have?
Uranium does not contain protein as it is not an organic compound. Proteins are large molecules composed of amino acids, and uranium is radioactive metal.
Q: How Many Carbs Does Uranium Have?
Uranium does not contain carbohydrates as it is a radioactive metal and contains no dietary macronutrients.
Q: Does Uranium Contain Fat?
Uranium does not contain any amount of dietary fat as it is not an organic compound. Fat is a type of macronutrient that is found in food and is used by the body for energy.
Q: How Many Calories Are In Plutonium?
Plutonium is a radioactive metal similar to uranium and contains the same amount of calories as uranium: 20 billion calories (C) per gram.
Uranium does contain calories in terms of physics at 20 billion calories (C) per gram or 20 million kilocalories (kcal) per gram.
However, radioactive metals such as uranium cannot make you gain weight as the body cannot process the radioactive metal for energy.
Even if you were to consume large amounts of uranium, it would not be possible for your body to utilize these calories as fuel.
There is no need to track the calorie content of uranium you might be ingesting from naturally derived foods when trying to lose or gain weight.
The only calories that really matter are the ones coming from the major macronutrients in the foods and drinks you consume on a daily basis.
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