What is a Heavy Metal?
A heavy metal is a metal that has a density of at least 5 g/cm3. It is generally understood that heavy metals have adverse effects on living organisms and the environment when present in large amounts.
The symptoms of chronic heavy metal exposure can vary depending on an individual’s health, exposure level, and the types of metals that they are exposed to. Someone with robust detoxification ability will have a higher tolerance to detox heavy metals while someone else could be extremely sensitive to even the smallest exposure.
Some of the Most Common Symptoms Include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Mood Swings
- Anxiety & Depression
- Chronic Inflammation
Common Heavy Metals
There are common symptoms that appear when toxicity is reached for some of the common heavy metals. While there are many heavy metals present in our environment, this article focuses on the metals that are considered to be found in disproportionately higher amounts and tend to cause the majority of symptoms.
The primary exposure to lead for many years was from lead-containing paint used in homes. It is estimated that 25% of US homes still have significant amounts of lead in their paint, inside air, and even surrounding soil.
Another important thing to note is that lead becomes stored in the bone and is passed from mother to offspring during fetal development. This passing down of lead can last several generations if not properly addressed.
Lead harms the body by competing with calcium and blocking its effects. Lead also interferes with enzymes, proteins, and antioxidant systems.
Common Sources of Exposure: Homes with Lead-containing Paint, Contaminated Foods, Municipal Tap Water, Cosmetics, Tobacco Products
Areas of Storage: Bones, Brain, Heart, Liver, Kidneys.
Health Effects: Headaches, ADD/ADHD, Mood Disorders, Poor Memory, Developmental Disorders in Utero (Reduced Birth Weight, Premature Birth, Poor Cognitive Development)
Arsenic, commonly found in our food supply, harms the body by inhibiting certain enzymes in the mitochondria. Anything that inhibits mitochondrial function will have vast health consequences as mitochondria produce the energy needed for cells to carry out normal functions.
Arsenic also depletes endogenous antioxidants (such as glutathione), contributing to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Common Sources of Exposure: Pesticides, Commercially-Grown Produce, Occupations (involving glass work, smelting, or semi-conductor production), Rice Products, Apple Juice
Areas of Storage: Liver, Kidneys
Health Effects: Higher Risk of Premature Birth and Fetal Mortality, Memory Problems, Poor Verbal Intelligence, Inflammation, Neuropathy, Cancers of the Bladder/Liver/Kidneys, Unfavorable Gene Mutations
Mercury is likely the most dangerous heavy metal in the environment. It is attracted to fatty substances, such as the brain, and may increase your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It increases oxidative stress, inflammation, depletes antioxidants, and chronically over-stimulates the brain (eventually leading to brain cell damage).
Common Sources of Exposure: Larger Seafood (tuna, shark, swordfish, etc.), Dental Amalgams (silver tooth fillings), Some Vaccinations (containing thimerosal)
Areas of Storage: Brain, Nervous System (myelin), Liver, Kidneys
Health Effects: Brain Damage, Brain Fog, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Headaches, Poor Memory, Liver & Kidney Damage, Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases, Neurodegenerative Disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis)
Aluminum is the third most common element in the earth’s crust and was once the number 2 metal used in manufacturing across the globe (second to steel). Aluminum is leeched from the soil with increases in acid rain, which makes it more toxic to the body.
Aluminum has no biological role in the body while also inhibiting the normal distribution of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.
Common Sources of Exposure: Processed Foods, Some Vaccinations, Antiperspirant Deodorant, Canned Food and Drink, Municipal Tap Water
Areas of Storage: Aluminum can find a home in almost any tissue of the body
Health Effects: Poor Cognitive Function, Bone Disorders, Neurodegeneration (Alzheimer’s), Breast Cancer, Anemia.
Heavy Metal Detox Juice
- 2 small beets (or 1 large beet)
- 4 cups chopped kale2 cups chopped celery
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1/2 lime
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 2 inches ginger
- 1-2 tsp. chia seeds (optional)
1. Wash all ingredients. Choose organic if possible.
2. Run all the ingredients (minus chia seeds) through the juicer, or blend all ingredients (minus chia seeds) in a blender if you don’t have a juicer. If using a blender, and the juice is extremely thick, you can use a strainer to remove larger particles (optional).
3. If using, add the chia seeds to your prepared juice, and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Chia seeds contain water soluble fiber, which gives them a gel-like consistency once the seeds are soaked. This gel absorbs the toxins in your digestive tract, helping your body cleanse itself.