What is heavy metal toxicity?
We are all inundated with heavy metals from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These heavy metals have no physiological role and they prevent the functions of essential metals like zinc, copper, selenium, etc. When these functions are disturbed, important cellular enzymes stop functioning leading to the development of chronic diseases.
Who will benefit from Heavy Metal Detoxification?
Health effects of Heavy Metals:
Generation of free radicals which causes oxidative damage to lipids, proteins and DNA
Blocks the functions of essential metals like zinc, copper, selenium, etc.
Chronic exposure to any heavy metal may lead to the development of cancer and heart disease.
At present, lead body burden is 2 orders of magnitude greater than it was in pre-industrial humans. Environmental sources include smoking, lead from corroded water pipes, industrial sources, batteries, toys and soil. There is no efficient excretory mechanism for lead. Ingested and inhaled lead enters red blood cells and has a half-life in blood of about 36 days. Subsequently, lead enters its chronic tissue storage cavity, bone, where it can have a half-life of several decades, leeching out slowly over time maintaining a low, but important internal dose for the unsuspecting individual. In patients that do not have acute lead exposure and toxicity, blood lead represents <5% of total body lead burden.
Chronic exposure to lead can result in mental retardation, autism, psychosis, allergies, paralysis, weight loss, dyslexia, hyperactivity, muscular weakness, kidney damage, brain damage, coma and may even cause death.
Inorganic arsenic is a naturally occurring toxic metalloid found primarily in drinking water and food especially rice. In epidemiologic studies, high-chronic arsenic exposure has been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Arsenic exposure can induce atherogenesis and endothelial dysfunction.
Lower level exposure to arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, reduced production of red and white blood cells and damage blood vessels, cause abnormal heart beat and pricking sensation in hands and legs. Long-term exposure can lead to the formation of skin lesions, lung disease, neurological problems, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and cardiovascular disease
Mainly present in all batteries and cigarettes. Cadmium also contaminates soil and can also act as an atmospheric pollutant in industrial areas. Because of soil contamination, cadmium can enter the food supply. It has particular affinity for some root vegetables and green leafy vegetables. Cadmium gets stored in visceral organs and nervous system. Like lead, however, there is no natural excretory mechanism, so that it has an extremely long half-life, of about 19.4 years. Because about 50% of cadmium is stored in the kidneys, urine cadmium can be used as an estimate of total body burden.
Chronic exposure can cause bone and lung damage. Cadmium is highly toxic to the kidney and it accumulates in the proximal tubular cells in higher concentrations. Thus, cadmium exposure can cause renal dysfunction and kidney disease.
Methylmercury, the most toxic mercury compound, is an organic mercurial compound primarily found as a pollutant in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Consequently, people whose diet consists mainly of shellfish and fish may be exposed to high levels of methylmercury. Mercury causes oxidative damage to mitochondrial membranes leading to mitochondrial dysfunction. This results in low levels of ATP (energy molecules) available for the functioning of the heart.
Chronic exposure to mercury can lead to erethism, a disease condition characterized by excitability, palpitations, tremor of the hands, memory loss, and insomnia.