What’s this all about?
In part one of our Heavy Metal Toxicity Series, we increased our heavy metal knowledge by discussing what they are and why we need to watch out for them. In parts 2 and 3 we dove into an overview of a couple heavy metals that we believe to be especially concerning: lead and mercury. In this article we present to you the last of the heavy metals our series: arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum.
Arsenic’s Love Affair With Rice
Arsenic has been in the public eye recently because of its prevalence in baby food. Rice cereal is the most common staple of a baby’s diet and often the first food a baby eats. This is a problem because more than half of the rice cereals on the American market have levels of arsenic that the FDA acknowledges are too high. The FDA is in the process of changing the permissible levels of arsenic in baby cereal, but many people are concerned that the levels will still be too high!
Arsenic occurs naturally in our environment and is absorbed into the foods we eat. Some foods have been known to have a higher concentration of arsenic than others such as rice, vegetables, dark meat fish, inorganic poultry, concentrated juices, beer, and wine. Arsenic is a known carcinogen specifically having an association with skin, bladder, kidney, and lung cancers. Arsenic has been known to have an ill effect on hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and others that are in charge of regulating your metabolism and immune system. In babies, arsenic can cause impairment in brain development.
The source of the arsenic in the US seems to be mostly from the Southeast, in areas where cotton used to grow. The levels of arsenic seem to be much less or negligent from California sourced rice.
The Cadmium Blues
Although it sounds like it could be a flower, don’t be fooled. Cadmium is actually an extremely toxic heavy metal. Although the prevalence of cadmium has significantly decreased since the 1950’s, it is still hanging around. Possible sources of cadmium exposure are industrial environments, paint, cigarettes, water, oysters, mussels, processed foods and batteries. Cadmium is a known carcinogen. Low levels of cadmium exposure could cause flu-like symptoms (called the ‘cadmium blues’) whereas higher levels of cadmium exposure can cause serious damage to the respiratory tract, liver, kidneys, and bones.
Aluminum. Is. Everywhere.
We use it to wrap our food, it’s what makes up soda cans, frozen dinner trays and bakeware, it’s in processed foods, antacids, deodorant, sunscreen, and other cosmetics. As you might have guessed, aluminum is the earth’s most abundant metal, which is why it is used for so much. The prevalence of aluminum in our day to day routines means that we are regularly exposed to small amounts of aluminum. These small amounts add up in our bodies and may contribute to brain disease, Alzheimer’s, bone disease, breast cancer, or nervous system impairment.
Just say no to heavy metals!
Now that we have become familiar with heavy metals we can start discussing how to confront them head on. There are nutritional treatments for heavy metal toxicity as well as the more intensive chelation therapy. In the next and last part of our series, we will dive into these treatments as well as offering tools for minimizing our heavy metal intake. If you have any questions in the mean time, please give Starkel Nutrition a call!
Read our other posts on heavy metal toxicity: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5
By Nutrition Student Marieve