Toxic metals, including “heavy metals”, are metals and metal compounds that negatively affect people’s health. In very small amounts, some of these substances are necessary to support life. However, in larger amounts, they are toxic. They may build up in biological systems and become a significant health hazard.
- Most of the elements on the periodic table are metals.
- Some metals are vital to our health. Cobalt, for instance, found at the core of vitamin B12, is key to making red blood cells, while iron allows those cells to ferry oxygen and other important chemicals to the body’s tissues. Calcium not only strengthens bones but also plays a role in muscle, nerve function, and blood clotting. Sodium and potassium help the heart and nerves communicate through electrical signals.
- The term “Heavy metal” generally refers to metals that have a high atomic weight and a density at least five times greater than water. While the body needs various trace elements, including some heavy metals, excessive levels can build up in the body and cause damage. There are also poisonous heavy metals that act as interference to the enzyme systems and metabolism of the body, even at comparatively low concentrations in the body.
Heavy Metal Toxicity…
- Heavy metals become toxic when the body cannot metabolize them properly, and they accumulate in soft tissue. Heavy metals may enter the body through food, water, air, or be absorbed through the skin.
- Because of our industrialized society and its extensive use of metals, heavy metals are found in everyday existence and are nearly impossible to avoid entirely. Most people can excrete toxic heavy metals from the body successfully. However, some people cannot excrete them efficiently and a build-up occurs. Recent research indicates chronically ill and genetically predisposed have trouble metabolizing excess metals.
- The most commonly encountered toxic heavy metals are Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Nickel. These six are of particular concern because of their ubiquity and toxicity.
- Metals can, directly and indirectly, damage DNA, leading to an increased risk of cancer. Arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, and nickel compounds and hexavalent chromium are known carcinogens.
- Other health conditions that may be associated with heavy metal toxicity include autoimmune disease, heart disease, liver and kidney disease, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, weakened bones, and neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can include allergies and sensitivities to medications, food, alcohol, and chemicals, a metallic taste in the mouth, anxiety, depression, brain fog, dark circles under eyes, chronic pain, digestive issues, skin problems, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, frequent illness, cold extremities, low core body temperature, muscle twitches, night sweats, and others.
Minimizing and Reversing Exposure…
- Although you can’t eliminate exposure to heavy metals, you can limit it. Avoid mercury-silver dental amalgams, and consider getting them extracted and replaced by a qualified and experienced dentist if you already have them. Buy organic foods, especially fish and seafood, which should also be tested and certified mercury-free. Filter the water you drink and the air you breathe indoors as much as possible. Buy natural personal care products. Avoid heavily industrialized areas and landfills when you can, and request Thimerosal-free vaccines.
- Abundant, healthy levels of certain metals protect against heavy metal toxicity. For instance, animal studies have shown that magnesium and zinc help prevent the negative effects of cadmium, and selenium protects against mercury.
- There are several ways to rid your body of heavy metals in a process called “chelation”. Chelation means grasping and eliminating metals from the body. There are various foods and supplements that will assist in chelation. Some effective, natural chelators are chlorella, cilantro (which may work best when used in conjunction with chlorella, MSM, or garlic), bentonite clay, and zeolite.
- For people with very high toxicity, some doctors also offer intravenous chelation using chemical compounds like EDTA, DMPS, and others.
- Toxic Metals http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/metalsheavy/index.html
- Metals: In Sickness and in Health http://www.livescience.com/18247-metals-human-body-health-nigms.html
- Heavy Metal Toxicity http://www.lef.org/protocols/health_concerns/heavy_metal_toxicity_01.htm#comm
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