Toxic heavy metal exposure

Toxic heavy metal exposure

According to Jonathan Wright, M.D., our cell, tissue and organ functions are impaired anywhere toxic metals are deposited. Also, displacement of nutritional minerals occurs, resulting in functional damage to the cells and organs.

According to Jonathan Wright, M.D., our cell, tissue and organ functions are impaired anywhere toxic metals are deposited. Also, displacement of nutritional minerals occurs, resulting in functional damage to the cells and organs.

by Paula Owens — 

Every day we are exposed to chemicals and toxins through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink and bathe in. 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 are 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. An excess of any of these can become oxidative and toxic.

For example, many research studies have linked heavy metal toxicity from 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 to our DNA.

The list is long for symptoms and conditions related to heavy metal toxicity. It includes: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and all autoimmune diseases; mood swings, depression, anxiety; neurotransmitter dysfunction; thyroid and adrenal dysfunction; inflammatory brain conditions, autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; infections, including bacterial, viral and candida; anemia; ADD, lower IQ and learning problems; food allergies and sensitivities; and hypertension.

Others include: infertility and reproductive problems in both men and women; genital malformation; cancer; brain fog, confusion, forgetfulness, memory loss, dementia; kidney and liver disease; osteoporosis; chronic muscle and tendon pain; digestive problems, IBS and gastrointestinal complaints; insomnia; migraines, headaches, visual disturbances, dizziness; respiratory, lung and heart problems; nervous system malfunctions, such as burning extremities, numbness and tingling; premature aging; hair loss or premature graying hair; and TMJ.

Metal toxicity is connected to all sorts of health problems and diseases that many people think are related to just getting older. Doctors often suggest managing these same diseases with drugs. Medical schools have failed to educate doctors about 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 will 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. Toxic metal body burdens are neurotoxic, meaning that these metals trigger an inflammatory response and oxidative stress that affect the psycho, neuro, immune and endocrine systems. The top three heavy metals most harmful to our health include arsenic, lead and mercury — confirmed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s list of the “Top 20 Hazardous Substances.”

In a Brown University study, researchers found nearly 23 percent of women 16 to 49 years of age met or exceeded levels of 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 risk factor associated with higher levels of lead, mercury and PCBs, although many children as young as 3 years test high for metal toxicity, as toxins can be 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 —  plumbers, construction and refinery workers, hairdressers, dentists, lithographers, farmers, painters, auto body painters, radiator repairmen, miners, welders, and fertilizer and pesticide manufacturers.

 

Heavy metal sources

Sources include silver fillings, vaccines, flu shots; tattoo dyes, lipstick and cosmetics; deodorants, personal care products, hair dyes; many prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antacids; baby formula and breast milk; foods sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides; some protein powders; contaminated fish (especially tuna, shark and swordfish); nonorganic and genetically modified organism (GMO) foods, grains, candy, soda and baked goods; high-fructose corn syrup and processed foods; the water supply; foods cooked in aluminum cookware or foil; some chocolate; heavy alcohol consumption and cigarettes.

Heavy metals also come from household cleaning products; paint, plastics and enamels; industrial exposure from coal burning; exhaust and pollution; metal stents inserted in surgical procedures; costume jewelry; batteries; and ceramics.

According to Ellen Silbergeld, Ph.D., professor at Johns Hopkins University, even low amounts of heavy metals can be harmful.

  • Brain development is impaired in fetuses and infants exposed to lead. Lead toxicity, even at low levels, can reduce a child’s IQ. For every 17mcgs of lead in the body, IQ is reduced by 10 points. (Richard L. Canfield, Ph.D. New England Journal of Medicine 2002.)
  • Aluminum is the most abundantly found toxic metal in the Alzheimer’s patient’s brain. It is also highly implicated in Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases.
  • Mercury is one of the most toxic and damaging heavy metals, and is particularly destructive to the brain, liver and kidneys.

According to Jonathan Wright, M.D., our cell, tissue and organ functions are impaired anywhere toxic metals are deposited. Also, displacement of nutritional minerals occurs, resulting in functional damage to the cells and organs.

It is impossible to completely avoid toxic metal exposure, but it is possible to reduce metal toxicity risk through dietary and lifestyle choices that diminish the probability of harmful heavy metal uptake and promote safe metabolism or excretion of ingested heavy metals.

Blood tests do not accurately measure heavy metals and hair tests only partially detect metals. An inexpensive urine test with a provoking, chelating agent that binds to heavy metals accurately detects total body load.

 

Paula Owens, M.S., is a nutritionist, fitness expert and author with more than 25 years of experience. PaulaOwens.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 3, June/July 2014.

 

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