Inside: Have you considered how the dangerous effects of heavy metals on the body could be affecting you? Read on to learn more about heavy metals and tips to keep your family safe.
Are you showing signs of heavy metal toxicity?
Listen up, because these can have dire consequences on your health.
I didn’t know the effects of heavy metals on the body until I visited my first holistic doctor after finding out I have a rare, motor neuron disease.
During the first visit, the doctor listened closely to my symptoms, then spent the next 30 minutes grabbing medical books off his shelf and reading through different case studies and symptoms.
After he was done, he looked at me and said, “Well, it’s clear that Western medicine can do nothing for you.”
Then, he asked if I had ever been exposed to heavy metals.
At the time, I had no idea what heavy metal toxicity was or its effects on the neurological system.
He explained that oftentimes heavy metal buildup can cause neurological symptoms similar to the weakness that I was experiencing. He suggested I do a urine analysis of the toxic metals in my system.
What is heavy metal toxicity?
Heavy metal toxicity is the accumulation of heavy metals in the body. In low amounts, some metals are essential. However, too much can result in oxidative stress, disrupt mitochondrial function, and impair the activity of numerous enzymes.
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Heavy Metals Include:
How do heavy metals get into our bodies?
We’re exposed to heavy metals in air, food, water and soil – exposure is inevitable since it’s all around us. Some of the most common ways you may have been exposed are through contaminated water or food, living or working near a hazardous site, and using products that contain heavy metals.
Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms
Heavy metal toxicity symptoms vary according to the metal. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic poisoning may result in:
- Weakness and tiredness
- Achy joints and muscles
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, arsenic is the number one most dangerous heavy metal, and one of the most common naturally occurring elements on Earth.
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As a result, most people are exposed to arsenic by food, including rice and some fish, due to uptake from soil and water. The American Cancer Society classifies it as a carcinogen.
Arsenic in Baby Food
A report conducted by the nonprofit group, Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), estimated that US newborns and children up to 2 years old lose more than 11 million IQ points over their lifetime due to exposure to arsenic and lead in food.
Moreover, the group tested nearly 170 baby foods for heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury and found that 95% of the samples analyzed contained heavy metals, with rice-based foods having the highest concentrations of arsenic.
As a result, the National Institute of Environmental Services states, “Scientists, pediatricians, and public health advocates are concerned about the long-range health effects of low-level exposures, especially for infants exposed to arsenic in some foods, such as rice-based products, during sensitive windows of development.”
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Effects Of Arsenic On The Body:
- Arsenic has been associated with skin, lung, bladder, kidney, and liver cancer.
- A new study from the NTP Laboratory found that mice exposed to low concentrations of arsenic in drinking water developed lung cancer.
- The NIEHS Superfund Research Program at the University of California, Berkeley, found an increased incidence of lung and bladder cancer in adults exposed to arsenic early in life.
- Researchers identified 111 altered proteins in the cord blood of infants prenatally exposed to arsenic. Almost half of those proteins are regulated by tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein that plays a critical role in inflammation, cellular growth, and development-related cell signaling.
Mercury exposure usually comes from eating seafood, but dental amalgams are the main source of toxic buildup. According to studies, dental amalgams are responsible for at least 60-95% of mercury deposits in human tissues.
Furthermore, mercury is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, making it easy to cross through the placental and blood-brain barriers. Once absorbed, mercury can accumulate in the kidneys, neurological tissue and liver.
Maternal Amalgams and Infancy
Maternal amalgam fillings lead to a significant increase of mercury levels in fetal and infant body tissues, including the brain.
A study found that the mercury levels found in the brains of infants whose mothers had dental amalgam were high enough to inhibit the development of the brain, the maturation of nerve cells and the production of neurotransmitters.
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Furthermore, the risk for delayed neurodevelopment of children increased 3.58 times when mercury levels in cord blood were higher than 0.8 ng Hg/ml.
Effects of Mercury on the Body:
- Dental amalgam fillings have been found to cause DNA damage in human blood cells.
- Female dental assistants exposed to amalgam have shown a higher rate of infertility
- According to the study The Neuroanatomy of Alzheimer’s Disease, about 20% of individuals in the age group of 20 years, 50% of individuals in the age group of 50 years, and about 90% of people in the age group of 85 years living in Germany show pathological changes in their brains that are typical for Alzheimer’s disease and mercury toxicity.
According to the World Health Organization, most lead exposure comes from occupational activities, but it’s also used in common items such as paints, solder, stained glass, lead crystal glassware, ammunition, ceramic glazes, jewelry, toys and in some cosmetics and traditional medicines. Much of the lead in global commerce is now obtained from recycling.
A major concern is drinking water delivered through lead pipes. One of the most notable cases of lead poisoning is the Flint water crisis.
While lead exposure is dangerous for adults, children are particularly susceptible due to their high inclination to put objects in their mouths. One of the most common ways that children are exposed to lead is through contaminated chips and dust from homes that have used lead-based paint.
Effects of Lead on the body:
- Lead poisoning is believed to be responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire, in which Roman Emperors suffered dementia after drinking wine infused with lead acetate.
- In pregnant women, high exposure to lead may cause miscarriage prematurity, low birth weight, and problems with development during childhood.
- Even low-level lead exposures in developing babies have been found to affect behavior and intelligence.
- Even blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dL, ; may be associated with decreased intelligence in children, behavioral difficulties and learning problems.
- The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated that in 2017, lead exposure accounted for 1.06 million deaths and 24.4 million years of healthy life lost.
So, How Can You Prevent the Effects of Heavy Metals on the Body?
- Reduce foods commonly contaminated with heavy metals like rice, fish and bone broth. I decided to forgo rice cereal with Asher and instead started him on single grain oatmeal. My personal opinion is if rice is something that even I won’t eat, then why would I feed it to my son?
- Have your home inspected for lead. To find an inspector, head to the EPA’s lead abatement page and enter your address.
- Be sure to check all labels of products you use frequently for the words “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury. If you see any of these, discontinue immediately.
- Consult your dentist if you have mercury amalgam fillings.
- Add glutathione to your diet. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that supports liver enzymes and helps to break down heavy metals. It also supports your immune system and protects your cells.
- Stop smoking. This goes without saying, but smoking contains harmful chemicals and heavy metals such as cadmium due to tobacco’s soil exposure. Dangerous heavy metals have even been found in e-cigarettes and vape pens, as well
Final Thoughts on The Dangerous Effects of Heavy Metals on the Body
Like a lot of older folks, my mom and dad both have mercury amalgam fillings.
Would eliminating heavy metals from my environment have prevented me from coming down with a motor neuron disease?
Possibly, but probably not.
I don’t believe there’s any one factor that led to my neurological disease; it’s a culmination of many different things, each one playing its own unique role.
I hope these tips helped you learn the effects of heavy metals on the body. Our family is leaving for upstate NY this week, but when we get back, I’ll definitely have our water checked for lead.
Have you experienced any issues related to heavy metals? Comment below and share your story!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.