Heavy Metals – Little Elements, Large Effect

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By Dr. Lydia Thurton
August 27th Edition

What substances do we encounter everyday that have the potential to harm your heart, kidney, nervous system, immune system, and liver? Heavy metals. Occurring in many of our every day products I would like to raise your awareness about exposures to these potentially toxic elements and tell you how to test for them.

It is impossible to avoid heavy metals entirely. They are present in our air, water and food in trace amounts. The focus really needs to be on reducing exposure and promoting healthy detoxification. The most common heavy metals to be aware of are lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

The problems with heavy metals in the body are twofold. Firstly, they tend to mimic elements that are essential to our body. This creates internal confusion when the metal attaches to a cell receptor, displacing a healthy element. Secondly, they tend to create free radicals, which are reactive elements that float around and wreak havoc for your cellular processes. This causes your body to have to dispatch antioxidants to try to stop the metals from damaging your system. It’s just a mess.

It can be tricky to know if heavy metal exposure is causing your symptoms. Everything from fatigue to cancer has been linked to exposure to these toxic elements. If you have symptoms that do not seem to be getting better with any course of treatment, occasionally it is heavy metal toxicity to blame.

Lead exposure is typically from drinking water that has passed through old lead pipes and lead paint. Vegetables and fruits can be a source when grown in lead contaminated soils. Cadmium is found in cigarette smoke, legumes and grains and some seafood. Arsenic is found in seafood, as well as soil near arsenic mines, treated wood and pesticides. Dental fillings and fish are the most common sources of mercury.

Mining, construction and manufacturing tend to be the jobs with the most exposure to toxic elements and heavy metals. If you work in an industry where you might be exposed on a regular basis it is worth the peace of mind to get tested and ensure your body’s toxic burden is in a safe range. Brief, transient exposure to metals is normal and usually poses no threat.

Blood testing is available for most metals. Urinary tests can determine if your body is eliminating heavy metals at a rate that would indicate dangerous exposure. Hair testing can be used to judge metal exposure over time.

If you test positive for heavy metals the best course of action is chelation. Chelation is done by a special doctor who uses intravenous medications to pick up the heavy metals in your system. It will take a few treatments to get you into a safe and healthy zone. It is also very important to determine the source of exposure and remove it from your life.

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