Toxic Metals

Toxic metals comprise a group of minerals that have no known function in the body and, in fact, are harmful. Today mankind is exposed to the highest levels of these metals in recorded history.

This is due to their industrial use, the unrestricted burning of coal, natural gas and petroleum, and incineration of waste materials worldwide. Toxic metals are now everywhere and affect everyone on planet earth. They have become a major cause of illness, aging and even genetic defects.

The study of toxic metals is part of nutrition and toxicology, areas not emphasized in medical schools. For this reason, these important causes of disease are accorded little attention in conventional mainstream medicine.

 

toxicmetals

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE MINERALS

Minerals are the building blocks of our bodies. They are required for body structure, fluid balance, protein structures and to produce hormones. They are a key for the health of every body system and function.

They act as co-factors, catalysts or inhibitors of all enzymes in the body. Copper and iron, for example, along with other minerals are required for the electron transport system, and thus needed for all cellular energy production.

Minerals are classified into four groups:

The macrominerals or those needed in large quantity, include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, copper and zinc.

Required trace minerals include manganese, chromium, selenium, boron, bromine, silicon, iodine, vanadium, lithium, molybdenum, cobalt, germanium and others.

Possibly required trace minerals include fluorine, arsenic, rubidium, tin, niobium, strontium, gold, silver and nickel.

Toxic metals include beryllium, mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, antimony, bismuth, barium, uranium and others.

These categories overlap slightly because assessing minerals that are required by humans is problematic. Some may be needed in minuscule amounts. Clinical studies to prove this by depriving people of vital minerals would be cruel and possibly disastrous. Also, note that minerals needed in lesser quantities are usually toxic in greater amounts. Examples are copper, iron, manganese, selenium and vanadium. Even calcium and sodium are quite toxic in excess.

TOXIC METAL DANGERS

Today mankind is exposed to the highest levels in recorded history of lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, copper, nickel, tin, antimony, bromine, bismuth and vanadium. Levels are up to several thousand times higher than in primitive man. In our clinical experience, everyone has excessive amounts of some or all of the toxic metals.

Toxic metals are also persistent and cumulative. The late Dr. Henry Schroeder, MD, who was a world authority on trace elements, wrote:

"Most organic substances are degradable by natural processes. (However), no metal is degradable...they are here to stay for a long time".

Toxic metals replace nutrient minerals in enzyme binding sites. When this occurs, the metals inhibit, overstimulate or otherwise alter thousands of enzymes.

An affected enzyme may operate at 5% of normal activity. This may contribute to many health conditions. Toxic metals may also replace other substances in other tissue structures. These tissues, such as the arteries, joints, bones and muscles, are weakened by the replacement process.

Toxic metals may also simply deposit in many sites, causing local irritation and other toxic effects. They may also support development of fungal, bacterial and viral infections that are difficult or impossible to eradicate until this cause is removed.

The mineral replacement process often involves the idea of preferred minerals. For example, the body prefers zinc for over 50 critical enzymes.. However, if zinc becomes deficient - and our soil and food are very low in zinc today - or exposure to cadmium, lead or mercury is sufficiently high, the body will use these in place of zinc.

Cadmium, in particular, is located just below zinc in the periodic table of the elements, so its atomic structure is very similar to that of zinc. It almost fits perfectly in the zinc binding sites of critical enzymes such as RNA transferase, carboxypeptidase, alcohol dehydrogenase and many others or great importance in the body.

The ability to replace a vital mineral means, however, that toxic metals are not completely harmful. Indeed, they can extend life. They keep bodies functioning when vital minerals are deficient.

An analogy is to imagine taking an automobile journey. If one is far away from a repair shop when a key part like the fan belt breaks, if one had a spare piece of rope, one could tie it around the pulleys and continue the trip slowly.

The rope would not function nearly as well as the original part, but would allow one to keep going. This is how toxic metals can function positively in the body. Many people limp along on grossly deficient diets, and are even born deficient and toxic.

They do not realize their fatigue and other symptoms are due to the presence of incorrect "replacement parts" in their biological engine compartments. Depending on where toxic metals accumulate, the resulting effects may be given names such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or cancer.

MODERN DIETS AND TOXIC METALS

The danger of toxic metals is greatly aggravated today by the low mineral content of most of our food supply. An abundance of vital minerals protects against toxic metals. Vital minerals compete with toxic metals for absorption and utilization in enzymes and other tissue structures.

However, when food is low in essential minerals, the body absorbs and makes use of more toxic metals. To continue the previous analogy, we are not stocking up sufficiently on factory parts, so we must use the greatly inferior replacement parts – toxic metals. Causes for the low mineral content of almost all agricultural products are primarily:

1. Hybrid crops are bred for production or disease resistance, rather than superior nutrition.

2. Superphosphate fertilizers produce higher yields by stimulating growth, but do not provide all the trace elements.

3. Monoculture, the growing of just one crop over and over on the same piece of land, eventually depletes the soil.

4. Toxic sprays damage soil microorganisms needed to help plants absorb minerals from the soil.

5. Food refining and processing almost always reduce the mineral content of our food. Whole wheat flour, when milled to make white flour, loses 40% of its chromium, 86% of its manganese, 89% of its cobalt, 78% of its zinc and 48% of its molybdenum. Refining cane into sugar causes even greater losses. EDTA may be added to frozen foods to retain their color. However, this chelating agent removes minerals that otherwise would cause the surface minerals to 'tarnish', discoloring the vegetables.

As a result of the above, according to Dr. Weston Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, primitive man ate 5 to 11 times the amount of the essential minerals in his diet as modern man. The term 'empty calories' aptly describes most of our food today, even most natural foods. Organically grown is better, but varies and most organic food is still hybridized varieties. Newer genetically modified crops could be better in some ways, but some are worse.

SOURCES OF TOXIC METALS

Aluminum - cookware, beverages in aluminum cans, tap water, table salt, baking powders, antacids, processed cheese, anti-perspirants, bleached flour, antacids, vaccines and other medications and occupational exposure.

Arsenic - pesticides, beer, table salt, tap water, paints, pigments, cosmetics, glass and mirror manufacture, fungicides, insecticides, treated wood and contaminated food.

Beryllium - air pollution (burning fossil fuels), manufacture of plastics, electronics, steel alloys and volcanic ash.

Cadmium - cigarettes, (tobacco and marijuana), processed and refined foods, large fish, shellfish, tap water, auto exhaust, plated containers, galvanized pipes, air pollution from incineration and occupational exposure.

Copper - copper water pipes, copper added to tap water, pesticides, chocolate, avocado, some nuts, liver and kidneys, swimming in pools, intra-uterine devices, vegetarian diets, dental amalgams, nutritional supplements - especially prenatal vitamins, birth control pills, weak adrenal glands and occupational exposure.

Lead - tap water, cigarette smoke, hair dyes, paints, inks, glazes, pesticide residues and occupational exposure in battery manufacture and other industries.

Mercury - dental amalgams, large fish, shellfish, medications, air pollution, manufacture of paper, chlorine, adhesives, fabric softeners and waxes, contact lens solution.

Nickel - hydrogenated oils (margarine, commercial peanut butter and shortening), shellfish, air pollution, cigarette smoke, plating and occupational exposure.

SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH TOXIC METALS

Toxic metals can contribute to any imaginable illness. For example, lead that replaces calcium in the bones can contribute to weakened bones and osteoporosis.

Cadmium that replaces zinc in the arteries causes inflammation and hardening of the arteries. Iron that replaces zinc and other minerals in the pancreas, adrenals and elsewhere can contribute to impaired blood sugar tolerance and diabetes.

Copper that replaces zinc in the brain is associated with migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and much more. Mercury and copper that replace selenium in various tissues impairs the conversion of T4 to T3, contributing to thyroid imbalances.

Toxic Metals and Aging. The slow, or not so slow, replacement of vital minerals with toxic metals is an important and neglected cause of aging due to deactivation of enzyme systems and the loss of organ and tissue integrity.

Toxic metal accumulation also feeds on itself. As one's energy production decreases with age, the body is less able to eliminate toxic metals, causing more metal accumulation.

Toxic Metals and Gene Expression. Genetic birth defects may be caused by faulty DNA or by faulty gene expression. Even if one's DNA is perfect, the synthesis of proteins from that DNA can be faulty.

For example, zinc is required for a key enzyme in gene expression, RNA transferase. Not surprisingly, zinc deficiency is associated with conditions such as neural tube defects. A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discussed this hidden cause of genetic defects.

"An alternate form of a gene present in greater than 1% of the population is called a polymorphism".

While the article mainly discusses vitamin deficiencies as a cause for genetic defects, it gives the example that "mutations in Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase cause 25% of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis."

SYMPTOMS

Aluminum – Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, anemia and other blood disorders, colic, fatigue, dental caries, dementia dialactica, hypoparathyroidism, kidney and liver dysfunctions, neuromuscular disorders, osteomalacia and Parkinson's disease.

Arsenic - abdominal pain, abnormal ECG, anorexia, dermatitis, diarrhea, edema, enzyme inhibitor, fever, fluid loss, goiter, hair loss, headache, herpes, impaired healing, interferes with the uptake of   folic acid, inhibition of sulfhydryl enzyme systems, jaundice, keratosis, kidney and liver damage, muscle spasms, pallor, peripheral neuritis, sore throat, stomatitis, stupor, vasodilation, vertigo, vitiligo and weakness.

Beryllium - adrenal insufficiency, arthritis, bone spurs, bursitis, depression, fatigue, osteoporosis and symptoms of slow metabolism.

Cadmium - hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, arteriosclerosis, impaired bone healing, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, reduced fertility, hyperlipidemia, hypoglycemia, headaches, osteoporosis, kidney disease, schizophrenia and strokes.

Copper - acne, adrenal hyperactivity and insufficiency, agoraphobia, allergies, hair loss, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, autism, cancer, chronic candida albicans infection, depression, elevated cholesterol, cystic fibrosis, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, elevated estrogen, failure to thrive, fatigue, fears, fractures of the bones, headaches, heart attacks, hyperactivity, hypertension, hypothyroidism, infections, inflammation, insomnia, iron storage diseases, kidney and liver dysfunctions, decreased libido, multiple sclerosis, nervousness, osteoporosis, panic attacks, premenstrual syndrome, schizophrenia, strokes, tooth decay and vitamin C and other vitamin deficiencies.

Lead - abdominal pain, adrenal insufficiency, anemia, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, attention deficit, back problems, blindness, cancer, constipation, convulsions, deafness, depression, diabetes, dyslexia, epilepsy, fatigue, gout, impaired glycogen storage, hallucinations, hyperactivity, impotency, infertility, inflammation, kidney dysfunction, learning disabilities, diminished libido, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, thyroid imbalances and tooth decay.

Mercury - adrenal gland dysfunction, alopecia, anorexia, ataxia, bipolar disorder, birth defects, blushing, depression, dermatitis, discouragement, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, hearing loss, hyperactivity, immune system dysfunction, insomnia, kidney damage, loss of self-control, memory loss, mood swings, nervousness, numbness and tingling, pain in limbs, rashes, excessive salivation, schizophrenia, thyroid dysfunction, timidity, tremors, peripheral vision loss and muscle weakness.

Nickel - cancer (oral and intestinal), depression, heart attacks, hemorrhages, kidney dysfunction, low blood pressure, malaise, muscle tremors and paralysis, nausea, skin problems, tetany and vomiting.

DETECTING TOXIC METALS IN THE BODY

Toxic metals are not always easy to detect. They lodge deep within tissues and organs. The most common methods of detection include hair, urine, blood, feces and liver biopsy tests.

Blood tests are only helpful for an acute exposure, such as eating a food contaminated with lead and doing a test soon after. The problem is that toxic metals are removed quickly from the blood and stored in the tissues where they do less damage. So blood tests must be done soon after an exposure, usually within days or weeks at the most, or they are practically useless.

Urine and feces challenge tests. These are used widely by holistic physicians. hese are done by first administering a chelation drug that binds to and removes toxic metals. Examples are EDTA, DMPS or another. Then one collects a 24-hour urine or a feces sample to see what comes out of the body.

This test is poor and will miss most toxic metals. The reason is that none of the chelating drugs can remove deeply hidden toxic metals. Most chelating agents only circulate in the blood, so they miss most of one's toxic metals that are bound to the tissues or incorporated into enzymes in the brain, heart, liver and elsewhere.

Electrical machines. Electroacupuncture devices, radionic machines and others can detect toxic metals. However, I have not found them too reliable. They are somewhat dependent upon the skill of the operator, which also decreases their reliability and accuracy.

Applied kinesiology. This method, also called muscle testing, is also variable in its reliability and extremely dependent upon the operator or practitioner. For these reasons, it is not very accurate and not easy to quantify the metals.

Liver or other biopsies. This definitely is more accurate and is used, at times, to detect iron poisoning and copper poisoning, for example. However, liver biopsies are costly, invasive and somewhat dangerous. For this reason, liver biopsies are not used often.

Hair tissue biopsy. This is by far the best method, provided that:

1) hair is clean at the time of sampling, 2) the test is run properly, and 3) the test is interpreted properly. This type of biopsy is not invasive, dangerous or costly.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reviewed over 400 studies of the use of hair for toxic metal detection and concluded that:

"Hair is a meaningful and representative tissue for (biological monitoring for) antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, vanadium and perhaps selenium and tin."

The author of a study of lead toxicity in Massachusetts school children, Dr. R. Tuthill, concluded:

"Scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low-level lead exposure in children."

Therefore, hair mineral analysis is one of the best and simplest ways for detecting toxic metals in the body.

To read more about hair tissue mineral analysis click here!

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