Heavy metals are present in varying and often negligible quantities in the food we eat, air we breathe, cosmetics and household products we use, the water we drink and even the medicines we rely on.
Some heavy metals are required in small quantities in our bodies, but excess amounts can prove to be toxic. Zinc, manganese, chromium, iron, copper, iodine and fluorine are a few of the micro elements that are essential for the optimal functioning of our body. But when toxic amounts get accumulated in our soft tissues, they can wreck havoc on our health and wellbeing.
Awareness of the sneaky ways in which heavy metals can get inside our body, knowledge about symptoms of heavy metal poisoning and getting educated about methods of detoxification will help you deal with heavy metal toxicity in your body.
Here are a few things you need to know about this often overlooked health problem.
Adverse Health Symptoms to Look out For
Heavy metal poisoning is often overlooked when we try to gauge the reasons for our persistent health problems. The niggling health issues refuse to go away despite following a nutritious diet and a wholesome lifestyle. If you are wondering what could possibly be wrong with you, then it is time you evaluate yourself for chronic heavy metal toxicity.
Health compromising symptoms like chronic fatigue, digestive problems, brain fog, poor immunity and weak bone health all point to heavy metal toxicity.
Heavy metal poisoning can happen to varying degree and effect. If you have been exposed to sudden and acute heavy metal poisoning, then the symptoms you may have will be different from the ones resulting from chronic and long-term exposure.
Acute exposure occurs when you were exposed to large amount of the metal in a short span of time. Examples of sudden exposure include workplace accidents or when a child swallows paint chips from lead-based paint. Usual symptoms include confusion, nausea, vomiting or even falling into a coma.
Long-term chronic exposure occurs over a long period of time and often the symptoms develop slowly. So it is easy to misdiagnose and attribute them to other causes. Common symptoms include;
- digestive disorders
- long-term health problems
- chronic infections
- nervous system malfunctions
- brain fog, and
Mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and aluminum are common culprits of heavy metal poisoning in the US. The poisoning can be caused by industrial exposure, environmental pollutants, chemicals in food and water, improperly coated household cookware and storage containers, or medicines.
It is also important to note that different metals give rise to different symptoms. So if you suspect heavy metal toxicity, you must consult an experienced healthcare professional dealing with heavy metal detoxification right away. Blood, fecal and urine tests will help determine toxicity. Hair test for toxic element exposure also help determine whether you are suffering from heavy metal poisoning. These tests also help evaluate level of progress if you choose to undergo treatment.
Know about the Toxins
Here are a few things you must know about the common heavy metal toxins that we encounter virtually on a daily basis.
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal and is not beneficial to our body in any minute quantity. It accumulates in kidney, brain, liver and fatty tissues, and causes long-term harm. High concentrations of the metal can seriously hamper the functioning of the nervous system.
Mercury can be found in dental fillings, seafood and mercury thermometers. It is also found in contaminated drinking water and air. A quality test for drinking water will help you detect traces of dangerous heavy metals in your drinking water supply and take remedial action. A trained dentist will be able to take out the amalgam fillings safely and offer you healthier options. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) gives detailed information about seafood that is safe to consume and have low levels of mercury in them.
Aluminum is found in foils and wraps, aluminum cookware, antacids, certain common OTC medicines and processed dairy products. It is also present in a range of cosmetic products we use daily and also poses a major threat to those employed in industries like welding and mining.
It is important that you read labels of cosmetic and personal care products you buy, and check with your medical practitioner before resorting to use of OTC medicines. Also, ensure that you stop using aluminum and non-stick cookware, and switch to safer products.
Lead toxins are present in old homes made before 1978, contaminated drinking water, tobacco smoke, toys made from poor quality plastic, pesticides, ceramics and car batteries. Staying aware and educated will help you avoid the potential sources of lead poisoning.
Even low levels of cadmium in the body can prove to be toxic. Cadmium is present in significant quantities in cadmium batteries, hazardous waste, fertilizers, cigarettes and industrial facilities. Potato chips, organ meats, peanuts, shelled seeds and cabbage are all potential food sources of cadmium. Limit your intake of these foods if you suspect cadmium poisoning.
Arsenic is also a commonly found heavy metal and is usually present in fungicides, pesticides and certain medications. When you areexposed to arsenic over a long period of time, it leads to several serious health problems like cancer, lung diseases, kidney damage, bone marrow diseases and weak bone health. Consumer wastes that get washed into rivers and lakes, and seep into groundwater sources pose a huge threat of arsenic poisoning through drinking water supplies.
Copper is another heavy metal that can upset the delicate biochemical balance of our body. It is present in a wide range of products including batteries, metal pipes, chemicals, pesticides, cigarettes and oral contraceptives, and in mines. The effects of copper poisoning include acute anemia, kidney and liver infections, intestinal disorders and digestive issues. A common cause of ingested copper is through drinking water which runs through copper pipes. These pipes corrode when in continuous contact with soft and acidic water, releasing copper into our water supplies.
It is very hard to completely avoid heavy metals from our lives because they are ubiquitous as far as modern life conveniences go. Staying aware and educated, and adopting a proactive approach towards detecting and avoiding heavy metals is the best way to go forward.