Heavy Metal Poisoning
Heavy metal poisoning is caused by metals that accumulate within the body's fat cells, central nervous system, bones, brain, glands, and/or hair to produce negative health effects. Such metals are unsafe at any level and their presence in the body is not normal.
The most common heavy metal poisons are lead, cadmium, mercury, and nickel. Aluminum, while not a heavy metal, can also cause toxicity and poor health.
Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can vary greatly, and depending on the type of metal toxicity, the age of the affected person (children are more susceptible to heavy metal poisoning), the length of the exposure, and the presence or absence of protective minerals and other nutrients that inhibit the absorption, binding, and effects of the toxic metals. For example, calcium deficiency exacerbates lead toxicity, while normal levels of calcium in the body help to protect against lead toxicity.
One common side effect of these metals is a metallic taste in the mouth. What follows are other common side effects for each of these toxic metals:
Aluminum: Aluminum toxicity may be associated with headaches, cognitive problems, learning disabilities, poor bone density (osteoporosis), ringing in the ears, gastrointestinal disorders, colic, hyperactivity in children, and ataxia (an abnormal walking pattern). Its possible role in poor memory or Alzheimer's disease is speculative at this time but also worth noting.
Cadmium: Cadmium toxicity can cause fatigue, irritability, headaches, high blood pressure, enlargement of the prostate gland, increased risk for cancer, hair loss, learning disabilities, kidney and liver disorders, skin disorders, painful joints, and decreased immune functioning.
Lead: Lead toxicity can cause poor bone growth and development, learning disabilities, fatigue, poor task performance, irritability, anxiety, high blood pressure, weight loss, increased susceptibility to infection, ringing in the ears, decreased cognitive functioning and concentration and spelling skills, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, constipation, muscle and joint pain, tremors, and overall general decreased immune functioning.
Mercury: Mercury toxicity can cause cognitive and memory problems, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders, decreased immune response, irrational behavior, numbness, tingling, muscular weakness, impaired vision and hearing, allergic conditions, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.
Nickel: Nickel toxicity may be associated with fatigue, respiratory illnesses, heart conditions, skin rashes, psoriasis, fatigue, and headaches.
Exposure to toxic metals is quite common, given the degree of environmental toxins that now affect our planet. What follows are some of the most likely sources of exposure for each of the most common toxic metals:
Aluminum: Aluminum-containing antacids, many over-the-counter medications and douches that contain aluminum, aluminum cookware and aluminum foil (especially when preparing and storing acidic foods), antiperspirants, most commercial baking powders, and contaminated water.
Cadmium: Possible contamination from cigarette and pipe smoke, instant coffee and tea, nickel-cadmium batteries, contaminated water, some soft drinks, refined grains, fungicides, pesticides, and some plastics.
Lead: Cigarette smoke, eating paint that is lead-based (in children, especially in poor housing or older housing), eating and cooking foods in ceramic glazes that are lead-based, leaded gasoline, eating liver that may be contaminated with lead, living in the inner city that may have elevated lead air levels, contaminated water, canned foods (especially fruit in which the lead-soldered cans may leach into the food), certain bone meal supplements, and insecticides.
Mercury: Possible contamination from mercury-based dental amalgam fillings, laxatives that contain calomel, some hemorrhoid suppositories, inks used by some printers and tattooists, some paints, some cosmetics, and many products that may contain small amounts of mercury such as fabric softeners, wood preservatives, solvents, drugs, and some plastics and contaminated fish.
Nickel: Many pieces of jewelry contain nickel and wearing them next to skin creates some absorption. Some metal cooking utensils have nickel added to them, even stainless steel, which is mostly a problem when cooking acidic foods. Cigarette smoke, hydrogenated fats (as nickel is the catalyst for the reaction to create them), some refined foods, and fertilizers contain nickel.
Note: Vaccinations and common dental amalgam fillings are two primary causes of heavy metal poisoning from mercury, as mercury is contained in many vaccines and well as in silver amalgams.
Caution: Heavy metal poisoning is a serious health problem and should not be ignored. To determine whether you are affected by this problem, consult with a holistic practitioner with experience in screening for these poisons and then work with them to effectively detoxify your body.