Sources of Toxic Metals

We receive many questions as to why toxic metals appear on a hair test when there is no known exposure to the metals. The brief answer is there are many hidden sources of toxic metals. They include congenitally acquired toxic metals and hidden sources in food and the environment. Let us explore these in more detail.

Congenital Toxic Metals

An often overlooked source of toxic metals is our mothers and perhaps even our fathers. Text­books of toxicology describe the fetus as a ‘sink’ for toxic metals. The metals are easily passed through the placenta from mother to child. Toxic metals can be passed from one generation to the next in this way.

It is difficult or impossible to know which toxic metals one's mother was exposed to through­out her whole life - including the toxic metals which may have been passed on from her parents. Therefore, it is impossible to say that one did not acquire a particular metal from one's parents.

It may seem strange that a metal acquired at birth would remain in the body until adulthood. However, the half-life of most toxic metals in the body is quite long. Thus it is possible to find a large quantity of a metal even in a middle-aged adult.

One may speculate as to why the toxic metals are passed on to children. Perhaps it is because they have a faster metabolic rate. They can there­fore eliminate them more easily than the parents.

Congenital toxic metals are an important and preventable cause of ill health. If mothers-to-be are careful about what they eat, drink and smoke, they can avoid accumulating additional toxic metals. By following a nutritional balancing program, one may eliminate a large portion of their toxic metals before passing them on to their children. If more people were aware of congenital toxic metals, it could significantly improve mater­nal and child health and reduce the birth defect rate. It is an opportunity to improve the health of the next generation, rather than pass on to them our weaknesses and toxicities.

Toxic Waste In Our Food

Recently, toxic metals were discovered in fertilizers. The EPA and state environmental protection agencies allowed companies to add their toxic waste to fertilizers that are sold to farmers throughout the nation. The theory is the soil will absorb the toxic metals, recycling them into nature. Also, implicit is the idea that a little bit of lead, arsenic or cadmium isn't going to hurt anyone. A possibly cynical idea is that any illness it causes will be so spread out among the popula­tion that no one could ever trace it back to the fertilizer used on the farms.

Farm animals in the state of Washington started dying and farmers and their families became ill in large numbers in 1997. This problem was discussed in the Seattle papers and on several television programs. Hopefully the problem will be corrected, but who knows for sure. And who knows what other problems are brewing in our food and water supplies. [UPDATE - EPA is still allowing toxic metals in fertilizer in limited amounts. See:]

Any food, even organically grown food, can be a source of toxic metals. One does not have to eat lead off the walls, or smoke cigarettes to obtain cadmium. Much more subtle exposure can and does occur.

Hidden Sources

There are many hidden sources of toxic met­als. Aluminum, for example, is widely dispersed in our environment. Restaurants may cook food in aluminum foil or aluminum cookware. Cosmetics usually contain aluminum. Newer soft packages for juices may be lined with aluminum foil. Aluminum materials rub off easily onto the hands, where they are absorbed. Clay products and the 'deodorant stone' are sources of aluminum.

Copper sulfate may be sprayed on fruits and vegetables as an herbicide and fungicide. Dental fillings and appliances may contain copper, nickel, cadmium and other toxic metals. Junk food and tap water are considered common sources of cadmium.

Herbs, food supplements and prescription medications are other sources of toxic metals. The metals may be in the herb, supplement or drug, or it may rub off into the product during processing or manufacture of the product.

Popular mineral supplements from sea beds, mines and other such places often contain toxic metals.

Protecting Yourself From Toxic Metals

One way to protect yourself from toxic metals is to eat a mineral-rich diet. The body always prefers the vital, physiological minerals. If these are plentiful enough in your food and water, they will provide significant protection against toxic metals that may be ingested. Extra sources of minerals include quality sea salt, seaweed such as Irish moss, dulse, kelp, wakame, hijiki and others.

Mineral-rich foods include seeds and nuts and organically grown vegetables, grains, fruits and meats.

Avoiding junk food and soda pop is another method of protection. Junk food has the minerals stripped from it. Eating it literally creates mineral deficiencies which cause the body to absorb more of the toxic minerals from the air, water and other food in the diet.

This material is for educational purposes only
The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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