Every single day we’re exposed to chemicals and toxins through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink and in which we bathe. Over time, these toxins accumulate in our bodies.
Heavy metal pollutants such as aluminum, lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium can alter and damage cellular function and impair mental and physical health in adults and children. Heavy metals become toxic when they’re not metabolized and end up accumulating in the body.
Not all metals are toxic though. Certain trace metals are required for optimal health, such as iron, zinc, copper, chromium, nickel, lithium, manganese and molybdenum, but if there is an excess of any of these, they become oxidative and toxic.
Many research studies have linked heavy metal toxicity such as lead, mercury and aluminum with a wide range of illnesses and health conditions that cause serious harm to the lungs, brain, heart, liver, kidney, bones, GI tract, reproductive systems, and damage DNA.
Symptoms & conditions related to heavy metal toxicity
• Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and all autoimmune diseases
• Mood swings, depression, anxiety, schizophrenic-like behavior
• Neurotransmitter dysfunction
• Thyroid and adrenal dysfunction
• Inflammatory brain conditions, autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
• Chronic infections, bacterial, viral and Candida
• ADD, lower IQ and learning problems
• Food allergies and sensitivities
• Infertility and reproductive problems in both men and women
• Genital malformation
• Brain fog, confusion, forgetfulness, memory loss, dementia
• Hair loss, premature graying hair
• Chronic muscle and tendon pain
• Kidney and liver disease
• Mineral and nutrient deficiencies
• Digestive problems, IBS and gastrointestinal complaints
• Migraines, headaches, visual disturbances
• Respiratory, lung and heart problems
• Nervous system malfunctions: burning extremities, numbness, tingling
Metal toxicity is connected with all sorts of health problems and diseases that many people think are related to just getting older. These are also diseases many doctors suggest managing with drugs. Medical schools have failed to educate doctors of the dangers of heavy metal toxicity. If you ask your doctor to test for heavy metals because you feel a sense of deep heaviness, are tired, depressed or experience achy or chronic joint pain for no reason, all too often the request is dismissed and instead you’ll probably get a prescription for an antidepressant.
Heavy metals build up in the body over time and present no discernible symptoms in the early stages.
The top three heavy metals most harmful to our health include arsenic, lead and mercury.
In a Brown University study, researchers found nearly 23 percent of women aged 16-49 met or exceeded levels for all three environmental chemical pollutants — lead, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — and 56 percent of the women exceeded the median for two or more of these three pollutants. All but 17.3 percent of the women were at or above the level for one or more of these toxic chemicals.
Age is a prominent risk factor associated with risk of higher levels of lead, mercury and PCBs, although many children as young as 3 test high for metal toxicity as toxins are passed to fetuses through the placenta and to babies through breast milk. Eating fish and heavy alcohol consumption also increase the risk of metal toxicity.
Certain occupations are more susceptible to metal toxicity, including plumbers, construction and refinery workers, hairdressers, dentists, lithographers, farmers, painters, auto body paint and radiator repair, miners, welders, fertilizer and pesticide manufacturers.
It’s impossible to completely avoid toxic metal exposure, however it is possible to reduce metal toxicity risk through dietary and lifestyle choices that diminish the probability of harmful heavy metal uptake and promote the safe metabolism or excretion of ingested heavy metals.
Heavy Metal Testing. Blood tests don’t accurately measure heavy metals and are pretty worthless for detecting metal toxicity. Hair tests only partially detect metals.
An inexpensive urine test with a provoking agent that binds to heavy metals accurately detects total body load. Contact Paula for details. Visit Paula’s blog for Part 2 of this article that covers dietary and lifestyle preventative measures to reduce the risk of heavy metal toxicity and safe, effective methods to detox heavy metals.
• Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” An Ahwatukee resident for 22 years, she is a leading expert in nutrition, functional health, fitness and fat loss with more than 20 years of experience. For more information, visit www.PaulaOwens.com.