Heavy metal toxicity is a growing concern and often an unknown root cause of a number of serious health issues. A heavy metal is defined as any metallic chemical element that has a high density and is toxic, or poisonous at lower concentrations. Many heavy metals naturally exist in our surrounding ecosystems, and are generally not a problem in small concentrations. However, with industrialization, heavy metals are used in many products we use daily and have leached into our food. It is our exposure to these low to moderate amounts of metals over long periods of time that cause ill effects on our health.
The main problem with heavy metals in our bodies is their ability to bio-accumulate. Bio-accumulation means the metals do not leave the body by their own accord and accumulate in certain tissues. Due to bio-accumulation, heavy metals are passed up the food chain from smaller species (fish) to humans. The main tissues targeted by heavy metals include: the liver, kidneys, bowel, brain and nervous system, spleen and eyes. The metals will not be cleared by the system unless some type of intervention is used to chelate the metals and flush them out. There are some heavy metal toxicities that are more prevalent than others like mercury from dental fillings and lead from lead pipes and paint.
Heavy metal exposure happens over a lifetime, depending on where you live, and your exposure. I ask each of my patients what type of toxic exposure they have had over their lifetime, as well as their mother’s exposure. Unfortunately, many infants today are born toxic with heavy metals as they pass to the baby through the placenta and breast milk. Children are especially at risk because many vaccines contain heavy metals, mainly aluminum and mercury. Thimerosal is a preservative in many childhood vaccines that is 49.5 % ethyl mercury by weight. Mercury is toxic, especially to infants and young children. Studies are now showing the link between autism and thimerosal exposure in children who have difficulty with mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. allows 0.1 mcg of mercury per kg body weight per day. The FDA also stated that a safe dose was on a daily basis. However, in the first six months of an infant’s life, the doses of thimerosal in vaccines is concentrated in three vaccines on three given days.