Are you suffering from chronic health issues despite doing everything you can imagine to keep yourself healthy? You follow a nutritious, organic, whole food diet, exercise regularly, practice stress-relief techniques, take appropriate supplements and so on. Yet symptoms continue, even with your very best efforts. Perhaps you endure migraines, you feel fatigued even after a good night’s rest, your digestive system is out of whack causing constipation or other problems, you get sick more often, you’re anxious and depressed, have memory difficulties, suffer from insomnia, or a long list of other health frustrations.
So, what are you missing? Are you starting to believe that it’s “all in your head” as some may have told you?
In truth, symptoms like those usually have a root cause; we simply need to know what it is to fix it. In our modern world, it’s impossible to avoid all the toxins that are out there. We’re bombarded by just about everything imaginable in the air with breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the household cleaners we use. If you’re experiencing symptoms like the ones I’ve mentioned, odds are, you’re in need of a detox, and specifically, a heavy metal detox.
Multiple heavy metals can be quite toxic. These substances can interrupt normal cellular processes as they first bind with protein sites and then replace naturally occurring metals in the body’s cells. This, in turn, impacts the ability of mitochondria to function which can lead to those unwanted symptoms. Science has backed this up, with researchers identifying that significant exposure to at least 23 various environmental metals, AKA heavy metals, contribute to chronic or acute toxicity. The reason they’re described as “heavy” is that they hang out in the body and are difficult to eliminate. They can hide in our fat cells, known as adipose tissue, as the fat in our bodies attempts to protect our organs. This then traps some substances, including certain heavy metals which means they won’t dissipate any time soon, at least without a good heavy metal detox.
Here’s a closer look at some of the most toxic heavy metals and what they can do.
Mercury is not only one of the most dangerous toxins out there; it’s the most common. It’s found in the earth’s crust and released into the environment from volcanic activity, human activity, and the erosion of rock. It’s a naturally occurring element that’s present in our food, mainly fish, soil, water, the air we breathe, and in dental fillings. Research has uncovered that the general U.S. population absorbs more mercury from dental fillings than from any other source. In fact, there is more mercury in dental fillings than in all other products sold in America. The EPA states that 55% of all mercury in the country today, roughly 1,088 tons of it, can be found in the mouths of Americans. Amalgam fillings, which consist of 50% mercury, may be cheap and long lasting, but the dangers have long been ignored, at least in the U.S. The use of amalgams is prohibited in many other countries, but it’s still legal here.
The primary cause for mercury release and exposure is human activity. That also includes coal-fired power stations, coal burning for heating and cooking in individual homes, and waste incinerators.
One can be exposed to mercury in any of its forms under various circumstances, although it mainly occurs by consuming fish and shellfish that have been contaminated with methylmercury, or through work, with workers inhaling the vapors during the industrial process. Everyone is exposed to some level of mercury, and it’s impossible to avoid at least a low level of exposure, which over time, can lead to all sorts of health problems.
According to the EPA, mercury is a neurotoxin that can affect one’s health, depending on multiple factors, such as:
- The type and amount of mercury the person was exposed to
- The age of the individual who was exposed
- The length of exposure
- The type of exposure, such as eating, breathing, skin contact, etc.
- The person’s state of health.
In high levels, mercury is one of the most deadly metals on Earth. The cardiovascular system may be especially vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects. Countless studies have documented a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease in those who have a higher blood level of mercury – it’s been shown to damage the cardiovascular system, even at low concentrations of exposure. A 2017 review published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2017, also notes mercury’s overall toxicity and specific cardiovascular effects.
Mercury doesn’t just affect the cardiovascular system; it can cause a wide range of other health issues. It’s been associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and as it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It also adversely affects neurological functions. Mercury has been found to induce tumors, impair kidney function, and harm a developing fetus too, as it gets passed from mother to baby, potentially resulting in mental retardation or severe learning disabilities. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that some 60,000 babies born every year may be at risk due to mercury absorbed during pregnancy.
Lead is a poisonous heavy metal as well as a potent neurotoxin similar to mercury. It’s frequently used in construction and is also a primary component in PVC plastics and certain types of paint. It’s also in the air we breathe, in certain foods and even drinking water. The majority of toxic lead poisonings occurs with inhalation or ingestion, and it’s especially toxic to children who are at a higher risk of ingesting through exposure to lead paints. When lead paint begins to deteriorate, it starts to peel, flake and can get into the body when there is hand-to-mouth contact. It’s rather frightening, as this heavy metal affects every system and every organ in the body. The World Health Organization (WHO), notes that lead is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney, and bones, and is stored in the bones and teeth, accumulating over time. When there is lead in the bones, it’s also released into the bloodstream during pregnancy, exposing the developing fetus.
There is no safe level of lead one can be exposed to. With high levels of exposure, the brain and central nervous system experiences damage that can result in convulsions, coma or even death. Children can be severely impacted, through everything from behavioral changes and stunted brain development to mental retardation. Exposure can also lead to renal impairment, anemia, hypertension, toxicity to the reproductive organs and harmful effects on the immune system.
A recent study published in March 2018 in the journal The Lancet Public Health, found that lead may be responsible for as many as ten times more deaths in the U.S. than initially believed. The researchers determined that some 400,000 deaths annually can be attributed to lead. They also concluded the estimated number of deaths attributable to lead could be compared to the number of deaths from being exposed to tobacco smoke. The CDC has estimated that at least four million households have children exposed to high levels of lead.
Arsenic is a toxic metalloid that’s frequently used as an alloy for lead or copper, and as utilized as a wood preservative, part of animal feed, and an insecticide. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a serious problem, not only in the U.S., but worldwide. It’s commonly found in the groundwater of the American Southwest, and in Wisconsin. Research has associated higher levels of skin cancer to exposure of arsenic in the drinking water. A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 2.1 million Americans use well-water that has high levels of arsenic.
Fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, dairy products, and cereals can also contain arsenic, although potential exposure is significantly lower compared to exposure through contaminated groundwater. In seafood, it’s mainly found in its less toxic organic form.
Arsenic is extremely poisonous and can lead to many different ailments, including:
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer, including skin, lung and bladder cancer
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases
- Skin lesions
Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Because it’s so durable, easily malleable and lightweight, it makes it one of the most used metals in the world today, used in the production of many everyday products. It can be found in airplanes, packaging, vehicles, construction, electronics, household items and more. We typically absorb it daily, as it can also be found in some foods, aspirin, antacids, and antiperspirant.
Although aluminum isn’t as toxic as lead or mercury, when exposed over the long term, it can lead to some rather severe health disorders. It accumulates in the lungs, brain, kidneys, liver, and thyroid, where it competes with calcium for absorption, which means it can negatively affect skeletal mineralization. In infants, it can slow development. Similar to being exposed to UV rays over time will eventually degrade the skin, and how cigarette smoke damages lung functioning over time, aluminum targets the central nervous system. Multiple studies have demonstrated that toxic metals like aluminum contribute to brain disease by producing oxidative stress, and aluminum is famously one of the worst. It’s often been linked to degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Aluminum has also been associated with breast cancer.
Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that’s mainly used in batteries, though it can also be found in cigarettes, hydrogenated oils, and coffee. It’s also used plastics and textile manufacturing and metal plating. Many foods may contain it merely due to its presence in our water and soil. It’s been estimated that the average person ingests 30 micrograms each day, with anywhere from about 3 to 10 percent of it retained by the body. Smokers have been found to have double the amount of cadmium in their bodies as compared to nonsmokers because of the large amount of it in cigarette smoke.
There is no amount of cadmium considered safe – it’s toxic even at low levels and can impact just about every system in the body, including the brain, kidneys, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and the eyes. It affects blood pressure, prostate function, hormones, and can induce bone damage too. In children, it can also affect dopaminergic and renal systems. The EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have noted that this heavy metal can induce organ damage, and is considered a carcinogen that’s been linked to pancreatic cancer.
Thallium is a metal that’s commonly used in the pharmaceutical and the electronics industry as well as in glass manufacturing. It’s highly toxic, and was once used as an insecticide and rat poison. Many of the world’s nations have limited use of thallium due to its high level of toxicity, as well as the deaths that have been linked to it through both criminal intent and accidental injury. You can be exposed to thallium in water, air, and food. Levels of thallium in the air and water are generally very low. The greatest exposure tends to occur when consuming foods, mainly fruits and green vegetables that have been contaminated. Cigarette smoking is also a source of thallium, with people who smoke found to have twice as much of the toxic metal in their bodies as compared to nonsmokers. Small amounts of it are also released into the air from coal, cement factories, smelting operations, and burning power plants.
Thallium tends to accumulate in nerve tissue, the heart, and muscles. It’s a suspected carcinogen, and can also cause hair loss as well as kidney, liver and nerve damage. When you are exposed to a large amount, you may experience temporary hair loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. When exposed to a dose as low as just a gram, it can be fatal, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
Nickel is a toxic metal that’s also widely used in many consumer and industrial products, such as stainless steel, coins, batteries, and special alloys. We can be exposed to it in our drinking water, through polluted air, cigarette smoke, and certain foods.
While nickel may have an attractive mirror finish, it also presents some significant health hazards. The New York University School of Medicine warned that chronic exposure to nickel is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, neurological problems, a greater risk of lung, larynx and prostate cancer, and childhood developmental delays. When Michigan State University researchers evaluated it, they found that it provides a multi-tiered attack by causing essential imbalances, severely disrupting enzyme action and regulation while also contributing to a large amount of oxidative stress.
Continued exposure to nickel has been linked to respiratory failure, lung embolism, heart disorders and an increased likelihood of congenital disabilities.
In its refined form, uranium is a radioactive metal, something that most of us are familiar with as a fuel for nuclear power plants and other military applications. Not surprisingly, it has some devastating health effects, even in minimal quantities. While you may think chances of exposure are slim, the missiles and weapons used in wars today don’t just affect civilian populations, such as in Afghanistan or Iraq, many U.S. soldiers have been and continue to be exposed. Studies in the United Kingdom following the second Gulf War confirmed that the concentration of depleted uranium in the skies over Britain had significantly increased, meaning that those toxins are potentially traveling thousands of miles, possibly putting much of the world at risk.
People can come in contact with uranium, radiation or both in areas where there are abandoned uranium mines, like the Navajo Nation, or living in a home that was built with material from a mine or mill site, as the EPA reports.
Uranium is not only radioactive, but it’s also toxic. With exposure even in small quantities often leading to serious health effects. It can impede the normal functioning of the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys in addition to being a potent carcinogen. Its primary target is the kidneys, that have been shown to been affected in both humans and animals after inhaling or ingesting it.
A Heavy Metal Detox
In our modern world, the accumulation of heavy metals and other toxins is sadly inevitable. It simply can’t be avoided. Fortunately, you can get rid of heavy metals that you’ve probably accumulated over time through a heavy metal detox.
In addition to avoiding many of the negative effects mentioned above, you may experience:
- A boost in energy levels
- A stronger immune system
- Better gut health
- Decreased oxidative stress/free radical damage that can lead to disease and premature aging
- Improved digestive functioning
- Improvements in mental performance such as better focus, concentration, memory, and learning
- An improved complexion and overall better skin health
- Greater protection against diseases and cognitive disorders