What do you think of when you hear the phrase “heavy metal toxicity?” To be clear, we’re not talking about thrashing guitar riffs and the incessant pounding of drums introduced by the heavy metal bands of the 1980s. Today, we’re talking about the feelings associated with having too many heavy metal toxins in your body.
Few people are aware of the negative wellness implications that are caused by heavy metal toxicity. After all, several symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can easily masquerade as symptoms of other more common ailments like seasonal colds and flu, allergies, or even lack of sleep.
Still, it’s essential to arm yourself with the correct information so you can be diligent about what to watch out for when it comes to heavy metal poisoning. Fortunately, we’re here to help you identify signs of heavy metal toxicity and what to watch for. Let’s get started.
What Are Heavy Metals?
The scientific definition of heavy metal is a metallic element at least five times more dense than water. Some of these heavy metals are naturally occurring and found within the earth’s crust or in the world’s volcanoes. Despite their natural occurrence, our human impact on today’s world has caused several new ways for heavy metals to enter our environment.
You may be aware of some of the more common heavy metals, such as iron, magnesium, chromium, nickel, copper, and zinc, which are even found in your daily multivitamin. And while beneficial in small doses, it’s important to note that too much of these metals can be toxic.
Are All Heavy Metals Bad For You?
As mentioned above, not all heavy metals are harmful to your body. Many are essential to a healthy body’s operating system and make up many of the vitamins and supplements you may already have in your cupboards at home.
However, even essential heavy metals can have negative health consequences. Our bodies only need a tiny amount of metals like iron, magnesium, and zinc to function properly. Too many of these metals begin to interfere with organ system function as they overtake and replace other essential minerals within your body.
Other heavy metals pose dangerous health risks to your system, no matter how small the amount. You’ve likely heard of the big three heavy metals: lead, mercury, and arsenic. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard the horror stories of children being poisoned by lead paint chips, adults sickened by mercury-laden tuna fish, and entire communities devastated by contaminated water supplies.
News outlets will reliably cover stories with these types of attention-grabbing headlines. However, many toxic heavy metal elements, such as copper, nickel, and cobalt, do not receive the same attention. Many know these metals are used in producing batteries for electric vehicles and other everyday household items. Still, we may be less aware of the side effects of mining these metals.
These types of metals are uncovered through anthropogenic activities or, in more simplistic terms, the environmental change caused directly by human activities. To that end, we must look at how heavy metals enter the environment through industrial practices like mining, smelting, agriculture, and other occupational exposure.
In addition to industrial practices, heavy metal toxins can also enter our environment and bodies through happenstance. Corrosion, extreme weather events, soil erosion, and even volcanic eruptions can release heavy metal pollutants into our environment.
How Do Heavy Metals Accumulate In Our Body?
Bioaccumulation is what makes heavy metals dangerous to our systems. While our bodies will naturally try to clear themselves of any harmful metals, repeated exposure to these metals can cause bioaccumulation. This is when the body cannot naturally excrete toxins at a high enough rate. Sudden exposure to a large number of heavy metals, or even prolonged exposure to small amounts of heavy metals, means that your system does not have the opportunity to rid itself of these dangers properly.
Think of your system as a funnel. The rate at which the funnel empties must be faster than the rate at which it is filled for the funnel to function effectively. The bottom of the funnel won’t be able to catch up if the top of the funnel is filled too quickly. This visual simply explains bioaccumulation.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heavy Metal Toxicity?
If you think there’s a chance you may have been exposed to heavy metals in major or minor amounts, there are several symptoms you may be experiencing. Common signs of heavy metal poisoning include nausea, chronic fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness, chills, weakness, and/or shortness of breath.
Though, lead, mercury, and arsenic symptoms can be more specific. Lead toxicity often leads to aggression, sleep loss, and developmental delays in children. Mercury toxicity can cause vision problems, nerve damage, specifically in your hands and face, and trouble walking. Arsenic poisoning produces severe muscle cramps, spots or lesions, and irregular heart rhythms.
If left untreated, heavy metal toxicity can also cause organ failure and, in some circumstances, death.
How Do I Know Which Heavy Metals Are Toxic?
In some cases, such as the case of mercury, lead, and arsenic, toxic heavy metals will be obvious. In many cases, it can be challenging to know which heavy metals are toxic and which are considered essential elements to the daily function of our bodies.
As mentioned, too much of any heavy metal can be toxic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that such metals as cobalt, copper, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc are essential or probably essential nutrients. In contrast, metals like lead, aluminum, barium, and lithium are potentially toxic.
When supplementing any of these vitamins and minerals, it’s essential to follow the included medicinal guidelines and consult a doctor, especially if you are currently taking any other medications.
How Is Heavy Metal Toxicity Diagnosed?
If you suspect you’ve been exposed to a harmful amount of heavy metals, your primary care physician can perform a few tests to be sure.
Most likely, your doctor will request a blood sample so that lab technicians can perform a heavy metal toxicity test. If your blood test reveals the presence of heavy metals, your doctor may order additional tests on your kidney and/or liver and provide requisitions for x-rays and an ECG. Lastly, they may also request hair and nail samples.
What Are Treatment Plans For Heavy Metal Toxicity?
There are several ways to treat heavy metal toxicity. Physicians will create treatment plans for acute (large, sudden exposure) and chronic (prolonged exposure) heavy metal toxicity. In both scenarios, your doctor will likely prescribe chelation therapy. Chelation therapy is a medication delivered via pill or injection that binds to toxic metals in your body and expedites their excretion.
More treatment options exist for mild cases of heavy metal toxicity. If you can determine the underlying cause of your exposure, you can begin to limit it. For instance, you may be able to make dietary changes, replace hazardous materials in your home like old pipes and paint, properly use personal protective equipment, and even take time off work while you rehabilitate your body.
You may consider a Detox Spray or a Heavy Metal & Chemical Cleanse if you want to expedite the healing process. Several options help support your body during the heavy metal detoxification process and help to restore energy levels and mental wellness.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
At this point, you have a fundamental knowledge of heavy metal poisoning and what to watch out for. It is worth mentioning that severe heavy metal poisoning cases are increasingly rare in today’s society and that many of the worst toxic metal offenders are both highly regulated and infrequently used.
However, milder cases of heavy metal toxicity are extremely common, and lead poisoning is most likely to affect children between one and three years old. Of course, through awareness, this type of poisoning has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years.
In today’s world, avoiding exposure to heavy metals is nearly impossible. Heavy metal pollutants are all around us, whether naturally occurring or resulting from human interference. Fortunately, doctors, scientists, and wellness experts have devised numerous ways to safeguard us from heavy metal exposure and its subsequent toxicity.
The bottom line is that it is our responsibility to track our health and well-being. Suppose you have been persistently unwell and have already eliminated outside causes like colds, flu, allergies, or other general illnesses. In that case, you may want to consider whether heavy metal toxicity contributes to your symptoms.
Detoxifying from heavy metals can be a slow process but a relatively easy one to implement. With the help of a primary care physician and the availability of detox supplements, feeling better is a phone call or a click away. As always, consult with your doctor before starting any new therapies. They can help determine what’s right for you and keep you on the road to health and wellness.