Heavy Metal Toxicity: Causes, Symptoms & Solutions
While acute poisoning would be almost impossible to miss, exposure to heavy metals over time slowly builds toxicity in the body, creating symptoms which may easily be overlooked or mistaken for something else. With ever increasing amounts of industrial pollution, agricultural chemicals and pesticides, and waste in landfills, our environment has become sadly contaminated. As a result, heavy metal toxicity is becoming an increasingly common, and now, nearly all people have some degree of heavy metal toxicity!
How bad is it? Heavy metal toxicity aggravates existing conditions and creates serious problems all its own. Says Simon Yu MD,
"Heavy metal toxicity operates at the cellular level, adds oxidative stress and blocks enzyme functions. It can be a cause for unsuspected detrimental effects on the hormonal, metabolic, immune, psychological, and neuro-sensory systems. Heavy metal pollution has been with us for over 100 years. It will continue to play an important role as an unsuspecting villain and threat for your health. My experience has been than even healthy people, even if lacking symptoms, have all been exposed to low levels of multiple heavy metals that have built up in their bodies. Almost all chronically sick patients, regardless of their specific symptoms or diagnoses, have significant heavy metals."
Common Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity
Could your symptoms be due to heavy metal toxicity? Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Central Nervous System Problems. Anxiety, Ataxia, Emotional instability, Exaggerated stimulation response, Fearfulness, Inability to concentrate, Coordination Problems, Insomnia, Irritability, Lethargy, Dizziness, Drowsiness, Loss of memory, Loss of self-confidence, Depression, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscle weakness, Numbness and tingling, Restlessness, Shyness, Tremors, Vertigo
- Oral, Visual, and Hearing Problems. Bleeding gums, Bone loss, Excessive salivation, Foul breath, Glaucoma, Hearing difficulties, Loosening of teeth, Metallic taste, Restricted vision, Ringing in ears, Speech and visual impairment
- Gastrointestinal Problems. Abdominal cramps, Colitis, Constipation, Diarrhea, Diverticulitis, Food sensitivity to milk and eggs, G.I. complaints
- Cardiovascular Problems. Abnormal blood pressure, Abnormal heart rhythm, Strange findings on EKG, Unexplained elevated cholesterol, Unexplained elevated serum triglyceride
- Immune Problems. Candida and other yeast infections, Myobacterial infections, Viral and fungal infections
- Systemic Problems. Adrenal disease, Allergies, Anemia, Chronic headaches, Chronic kidney disease, Cold, clammy skin, especially hands and feet, Dermatitis, Excessive perspiration, with frequent night sweats, Fatigue, Hypoglycemia, Loss of appetite, Low temperature, Thyroid problems, Unexplained pain, numbness, or burning sensations, Weight loss
Causes of Heavy Metal Toxicity
Most people don't realize the amount of heavy metals in the body can be influenced by age and diet. Young children and elderly are more vulnerable and more affected than an adult would be to the same amount of heavy metal exposure. As for diet, too little protein and calcium will leave the body more susceptible to cadmium and lead absorption, while vitamin C will reduce vulnerability. These factors, along with your health and immunity, will influence the effect heavy metal exposure has on you. Most heavy metal exposure can be traced to the following sources:
- Dietary Sources: Large Cold Water Fish, Eel, Mackerel, Tuna, Salmon, Flounder, Cereal and Grains (many contain cadmium), Coffee
- Industrial Sources: Coal Plant Emissions, Gold, Non-Ferrous Metal and Steel Production, Cement Production, Caustic Soda Production
- Environmental Source: Tobacco smoking or secondhand smoke, Lead-based Paint (often used in homes built prior to 1978), Volcano Eruption, Living near landfills, Drinking water, especially from copper pipes
- Agricultural Sources: Fallout from the air, Water used to irrigate fields, Fertilizer, Pesticides
- Other Sources: Mercury Dental Fillings, Fluorescent Lamps
Remove Heavy Metals with Chelation Therapy
As it's almost impossible to avoid exposure to heavy metals, our best recourse is to have a plan to remove them from the body. If it is not addressed, heavy metal toxicity will cause a ripple effect through the body as it depletes and blocks absorption of essential nutrients.
- Lead in the body will block calcium, iron and zinc, leading to cognitive and behavioral problems.
- Cadmium will block zinc and iron, leading to kidney problems.
- Mercury will block selenium, causing central nervous system problems.
The higher the concentration of these three heavy metals in particular, the more severe the effects will be. Luckily, heavy metal toxicity can be decreased or even removed completely with the use of chelation therapy.
Chelation utilizes chelating agents to serve as magnets for toxic metals in the body in either intravenous or oral supplements. When chelating agents enter the body, toxic metals become stuck and are able to be flushed out normally. Though mainly used for removal of heavy metals from the body, chelation may also be used for other health benefits, such as the removal of calcium from hardened arteries, as a cancer preventative, and as a component of autism treatment (mercury toxicity has been tied to autistic symptoms).
Chelation can extremely beneficial for those with a heavy metal toxicity problem, but vitamin c and e can be depleted during treatment, so it is important to boost your vitamin sources during chelation therapy.