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How Heavy Metals Are Affecting Your Health

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Heavy metal toxicity is an increasingly common root cause that is linked to numerous chronic health problems including: thyroid disorders, Hashimoto's, kidney disease, liver problems, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, psychological disorders, neurological problems, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, Parkinson's, anemia, skin problems, allergies, dyslexia, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, chronic yeast or fungal infections, menstrual problems, candida, cancer, and more.

Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include:

  • hair loss

  • bloating

  • headaches

  • muscle & joint pain

  • inflammation

  • anxiety

  • depression

  • insomnia

  • chronic fatigue

  • mood swings

  • dry skin

  • peeling top layer of skin

  • gastrointestinal issues

  • chest/upper back/shoulder pain

  • stomach pain

  • nausea

  • memory loss

  • vision problems

  • dizziness or poor balance

  • hearing your heart beat

  • tinnitus

  • eyelid twitching or swelling

  • lines on nails

  • high or low blood pressure

  • frequent urination

  • sensitive teeth

  • bleeding gums

  • bad breath

  • metallic taste in mouth

  • irregular menstrual cycle

  • reduced sperm count

So what are heavy metals exactly? Heavy metals are dense metallic elements that are naturally occurring on the earth's crust. There are two types of heavy metals: essential and non-essential. The essential heavy metals (zinc, iron, manganese, molybdenum, cobalt, and copper) are required by humans for our growth, metabolism and organ development. In trace amounts, they are considered micronutrients; however, in large amounts, ALL heavy metals are toxic. Non-essential heavy metals (aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, plutonium and mercury) are not beneficial in any amount and are considered highly toxic and carcinogenic. Even a low level of exposure can induce multiple organ damage.

Heavy metals become such a problem because they easily bioaccumulate in your body and can be stored in your tissues, bones, kidneys, liver, blood, heart, and brain. Because your body works hard to excrete these toxic metals, this puts a further strain on your major organs of detoxification (which is why heavy metal toxicity is often the root cause of chronic and degenerative kidney and/or liver disease).

The most common question I get asked is, "where do you get heavy metals from?" We are exposed to heavy metals mostly through food, water, smoking/inhalation, beauty products, medications, pollution, mining, agriculture, industrialization, and the environment.

Common sources of heavy metals:

  • dental amalgams (silver fillings)

  • high mercury fish (tuna, swordfish, sea bass, tilefish, shark, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy)

  • environmental pollution

  • flu shots/allergy shots

  • tap water or well water

  • protein powders (especially plant protein)

  • rice (especially brown rice)

  • cosmetics (especially lipstick & lipgloss)

  • deodorants

  • toiletries

  • antacids

  • smoking or vaping

  • cannabis

  • pharmaceuticals

  • birth control pills & IUDs

  • aluminum cans/foil

  • cookware

  • batteries

  • sewage

  • soil

  • fertilizers

  • furniture & mattresses

  • carpets & area rugs

  • old paint

  • volcanoes

  • metal jewelry

  • children's toys

The accumulation of heavy metals can happen from either an acute/large exposure or a low-level exposure over a longer period of time (i.e. chronic smoking). Heavy metals cause an increased burden on the body when they enter and accumulate in your tissues faster than your detoxification pathways can eliminate them (and most people have clogged detox pathways). The level of toxicity varies in each individual and is affected by your age, diet, nutritional status, organ health, genetics, route of exposure, and type of heavy metal. Heavy metals can store in your body for decades and can also cross the blood-brain barrier and placenta, which means heavy metals can be passed in utero, causing neurological and developmental problems in children.

While we can't escape heavy metals or live in a bubble, we can minimize our exposure and detoxify. In our functional medicine program, we focus on supporting organ function, opening drainage pathways and eliminating parasites (which trap heavy metals) first before detoxifying heavy metals. If you are experiencing symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, we can help you address this root cause to allow your body to truly heal from chronic health problems.

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