Heavy Metals


Heavy metal exposure has increased due to industrial and anthropogenic activities as well as modern industrialization.  

Heavy metals can be related to several acute and chronic toxic effects in different organs of the body. Gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction, vascular damage, birth defects, disorders of the immune system, skin lesions, and nervous system diseases, as well as neuropsychiatric conditions such as fatigue and anxiety, lowered IQ, and cognitive disorders, can all be linked to heavy metal exposure.

When individuals are exposed to heavy metals in high quantities, they will likely have severe acute symptoms, which will require urgent medical attention, but chronic exposure to small quantities can be more insidious and less obvious. Chronic exposure to even miniscule amounts of heavy metals can have long-term health consequences

Many heavy metals are carcinogenic, causing disruptions at a cellular level that damage our DNA. Heavy metals generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), inactivate enzymes, and suppress antioxidant production, which reduces our immune capacity

Heavy metals accumulate in the body and are difficult to get rid of. As heavy metals combine with soil, water, and air they become more toxic. We are exposed to them in the environment, industrial pollutants, as well as the food chain. The most harmful heavy metals for human health include mercury, lead, thallium, cadmium, aluminium, and antimony.

The below graphic shows some of the supplements that can be helpful in supporting the various organs affected by heavy metal toxicity.

Each heavy metal influences the body differently. Thallium can contribute to alopecia, while lead poisoning results in cognitive dysfunctions in children.

Methylmercury, which is the more toxic form of mercury, causes several neurological conditions when it gets into the circulation. The kidneys, liver, and nervous systems, as well as the skin and cardiovascular system can be affected when people are exposed to heavy metal poisoning. We are commonly exposed to mercury through dental fillings.

While mercury specifically targets the brain, it also damages the mitochondria and microtubules and causes lipid peroxidation, as well as the accumulation of neurotoxic chemicals including glutamate, serotonin, and aspartate.

Cadmium poisoning causes itai-itai disease, which can cause softening of the bones, renal tube dysfunction, and severe bone pain.

Lead is also an extremely toxic metal that interferes with many physiological processes in plants and humans. Lead speeds up the production of reactive oxygen species, damaging fatty membranes and resulting in oxidative stress, causing cell damage.

Heavy metals do not have a biological role in the body, and so any traces will disrupt optimal functioning.

Heavy metals are not biodegradable. Common foods can be laden with heavy metals due to bioaccumulation from polluted soil and water. Environmental pollution caused by heavy metals will persist until industrial laws are changed to ensure the safe disposal of waste products.

Heavy metal levels can be tested by either doing a urine challenge test, a hair mineral analysis, or an Oligoscan. If heavy metals levels are elevated there are chelating agents that can be used to remove them, but these should be done under the guidance of a health professional, along with the supportive remedies that ensure that the metals are not reabsorbed into the tissues in the process.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 29 December 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am