If you have any of the following symptoms, then heavy metal toxicity could be affecting your health:
- Anxiety and depression
- Deteriorating eye health
- Digestive problems
- Hair loss
- History of cancer or hypothyroidism
- Memory problems
- Mental “fogginess”
- Poor immune function (recurrent infections, an autoimmune disease)
- Poor kidney function
- Tingling sensations in the hands, feet, and/or around the mouth
Multiple activities result in practically all humans being exposed to these heavy metals in the air, water, and our food supply.
In the early 2000s, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that heavy metals accumulated in the environment, “. . . are associated to different degrees with a wide range of conditions, including kidney and bone damage, developmental and neuro-behavioral disorders, elevated blood pressure, and potentially even lung cancer.”
The heavy metals in the environment that are most commonly found to be linked to adverse health problems include:
Mercury is a silvery liquid metallic element that is very toxic, even in extremely small amounts, and abundant in the environment. For example, mercury can find its way into our water supply where bacteria can change what is called “inorganic” mercury into “organic” methylmercury. Methylmercury is far easier for the body to absorb, and we can become toxic from eating contaminated seafood.
The brain and nervous system are especially sensitive to long-term mercury exposure, and infants are the most sensitive to mercury’s negative health effects.
Lead is less abundant in the environment than mercury. However, homes built prior to the 1978 ban can still contain some lead-based paint and removing lead paint without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) can result in lead toxicity.
The soil and water around mining activities may also become very contaminated with lead. Children growing up in these areas are the most vulnerable to lead’s harmful effects, which can result in serious developmental delays, nervous system damage, and even death.
Cadmium is used in manufacturing and industry. Cadmium exposure can damage the kidneys, lungs, and liver. Like mercury, lead, and zinc, cadmium occurs naturally.
Arsenic is present in the environment from agricultural runoff, cigarette smoke, and was previously used in pressure-treated wood. Repeated exposure to arsenic can initiate cancer, cognitive dysfunction, diabetes, and heart and lung damage.
Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and found all over the world. There is constant exposure to this element through ingestion of water and food and exposure to dust particles. Drinking water may contain high levels of aluminum because aluminum sulfate is used in the purification process of municipal water supplies. Aluminum in cans, containers, cooking utensils, and medications, are also potential sources of oral intake of aluminum. Aluminum exposure is common due to use of certain deodorants.
What can be done about heavy metal toxicity?
While there are pharmaceutical methods to treat heavy metal toxicity, we most often utilize nutrient cofactors or botanical extracts that can bolster the body’s natural ability to eliminate these toxins, or to bind to the heavy metals to facilitate their elimination.
Before starting any heavy metal toxicity treatment, it is critical to first speak with a healthcare provider to determine the extent of your toxicity and the suggested treatment and changes to prevent further exposure.