Metal Descriptions and their Effects
is commonly ingested with food, medicine and water. Previously, aluminum was considered virtually non-absorbable and was thus freely used in a variety of food additives and over-the-counter drugs such as antacids. New research suggests that Al can cause neurological changes such as seen in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and dialysis dementia. Al can bind to DNA, resulting in abnormal neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Al inhibits the enzyme, hexokinase. It is absorbed in the intestine and excreted via the kidney. In persons with abnormal kidney function, Al is deposited in the bones. Toxicity symptoms include ataxia, colic, and GI irritation. Al is widely found in foods and water. Hair: elevated levels reflect long-term exposure and increased tissue storage. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Chelation Therapy is recommended to reduce levels dramatically. Support digestive and kidney function. As soon as digestive functions are properly supported, the elimination of aluminum increases and the intestinal absorption decreases. Check calcium tissue levels. An inadequate calcium supply or calcium absorption problems facilitate the absorption of aluminum.
is not readily absorbed; however intestinal dysfunctions support the uptake. Barium is then distributed in very low concentration in soft tissues. It appears to inhibit the calcium absorption and has properties that are similar to lead and cadmium. High Barium levels are almost always an indication of heavy metal toxicity in the tissues, which isn’t always reflected in the hair. A urine challenge test is recommended. Barium X-ray techniques can increase tissue levels. SOURCES: drinking water. The EPA allows a maximum level of 1PPM. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Digestive support to reduce intestinal uptake. Zinc and antioxidants, including selenium are recommended to normalize barium levels.
is toxic to virtually every system of the body. It has been implicated in renal disease, prostatic carcinoma and other cancers, hypertension, anemia, itai-itai disease and anemias. It inhibits enzyme and nutrient utilization, and is readily stored in the kidney where it competes with zinc for binding sites in various enzymes and other proteins. Zinc, vitamin C, iron and/or calcium intake can partially protect against cadmium overload. Smoke increases the susceptibility to toxicity. Acute poisoning causes severe pulmonary and bronchial irritation. SOURCE: pollution, smoking. Hair analysis reflects long-term, chronic exposure and tissue overload, and tissue levels increase with age. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Chelation Therapy is the treatment of choice. Antioxidant therapy with emphasis on vitamin C also helps. Zinc and vitamin B6; increased amino acid intake. Water contamination and amalgam fillings are recognized sources of cadmium toxicity.
is an essential trace element that is required for the sugar and fat metabolism and is part of the glucose tolerance factor. Deficiency conditions are atherosclerotic plaque, elevated LDL cholesterol levels, increased insulin need, impaired glucose tolerance and a reduced stress response. Deficiency causes are diets rich in highly processed foods, alcoholism, malabsorption, and insufficient intake of B-vitamins. SOURCES: whole grains, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, meat and cheeses. Hair is a reflection of long-term nutritional intake and low levels indicate an increased dietary need for chromium. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: increase chromium and B-vitamin intake.
is an important metallo-enzyme. It is an activator of dopamine beta-hydroxylase and essential element for proper adrenal function. The liver is the main organ for storage and excretion. Copper is tightly bound to the protein ceruloplasmin, to amino acids esp histidine, threonine and glutamine, and to albumin. These amino acids and albumin are important for the copper transport between the liver and various peripheral tissues. Toxicity symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, discoloration of skin and hemolytic anemia. High copper levels are often accompanied by zinc deficiency and long-term estrogen therapy can increase hair copper levels, causing emotional instability and depression. High copper levels increase the toxic effect of selenium and suppress iron absorption. Excessive exposure and inhalation of industrial copper dust causes contact dermatism cardiomyopathy, liver and kidney damage. SOURCES: whole grains, shellfish, nuts, organ meats, eggs, cocoa, chocolate, Brewer’s yeast and copper-rich drinking water. Copper IUDs have also caused elevated copper levels. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: In Wilson’s disease, copper levels are low in peripheral tissues such as hair. To normalize levels, evaluate iron, manganese, zinc and molybdenum levels. Vitamin C increases the copper mobilization and excretion, especially when used with amino acids and vitamin B6.
has no physiological properties; however gold compounds have been used homeopathically and for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis since the early 1940’s, but the clinical significance of these treatments remain unknown. Therapeutically injected soluble gold is excreted mainly via the urine. Confirming tests for overexposure to gold are 24 hr urine measurements. Excess gold may produce weakness, paresthesia and skin rashes. Most foods contain only minute amounts of gold, and the dietary intake is <6mcg/day. Dry fruit and nuts are best sources. Gold fillings may be another source of exposure. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: increase intake of antioxidants and support kidney function with increased vitamin B6 intake.
Occupational and environmental exposures are the common causes of exposure. Lead reduces the body’s ability to utilize calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and other important nutrients. This heavy metal greatly affects health. It is a known cause of anemia, and children are easily affected by lead exposure. Toxicity symptoms include abdominal pain, anorexia, anxiety, constipation, fatigue, headaches, impaired coordination, indigestion, irritability, muscle pains, learning and neurological disorders, incl. tremors, severe anemias and immune deficiencies, learning disabilities, hyperactivity and violent behavior. SOURCES: leaded gasoline, canned goods, lead paint, newsprint, black hair dyes and rinses (where lead is absorbed through the skin into the blood stream and tissues), tobacco smoke, air pollution, and contaminated water. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Chelation Therapy is the treatment of choice to get rid of high lead levels. Vitamin C, sulfur-bearing amino acids and other chelating agents can increase the urinary excretion and thus reduce toxicity and tissue overload, including that of bones. In acute cases of exposure, chelation treatments are recommended.
is an essential element with both electrolyte and enzyme-activator functions. Elevated hair levels of chemically untreated hair reflect the withdrawal of magnesium from bone and muscle, signifying a masked deficiency. Check for deficiency symptoms such as osteoporosis, periodontal disease, muscle spasms or twitching, nervousness, convulsions, gastrointestinal problems including pancreatitis, and/or hormonal imbalances. The combination of high hair magnesium and calcium levels may indicate soft tissue calcification. Perming, dyeing or bleaching hair FALSELY elevates levels of magnesium and other elements. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: if blood levels are normal, increase intake of magnesium and vitamin B6.
Elemental mercury is easily converted to organic mercury by living systems. Symptoms of poisoning include inactivation of enzyme function, birth defects, brain damage and other central nervous system disorders. Early symptoms of mercury overexposure include insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, weakness, depression, tremors loss of appetite, loss of memory, nervousness, headache, dermatitis, numbness, and tingling of lips and feet, emotional instability and kidney damage. Symptoms of acute toxicity: loss of teeth, extreme tremor, mental and emotional disorders, kidney failure. SOURCES: overexposure may stem from paints, explosives, electrical apparatus, batteries, mercurial diurectics, fungicides, fluorescent lamps, cosmetics, hair dyes, amalgams in dentistry, contaminated seafood, and petroleum products. THERAPEUTIC RECOMMENDATION: Hair is a reliable measure of mercury body burdens, reflecting long-term exposure. Chelation Therapy is known to increase urinary excretion and is by far the treatment of choice. Oral detoxification procedures concentrate on sulfur-bearing amino acids, vitamin B6 and selenium.
toxicity has been associated with dermatitis and pulmonary neoplasia resulting from industrial contamination. High levels have been associated with myocardial infarct (heart attack), and are often found in stroke victims. Nickel excess may be due to nickel-cadmium batteries, jewelry, ceramics, cold wave permanents, welding, and smoke. Nickel carbonyl found in cigarette and cigar smoke is a strong carcinogen. Early symptoms of nickel exposure are apathy, diarrhea, skin problems, insomnia, vertigo, injury to cerebral blood vessels, vomiting and tachypnea. Toxicity symptoms include frontal headaches, gastroenteritis, eczema, cancer of the lung and nasal cavity. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION. Chelation Therapy is the treatment of choice to excrete the access nickel in the urine. Elevated hair levels indicate long-term, chronic exposure and an increased need for sulfur-bearing amino acids, pectin and antioxidants.
is an electrolyte element and a potentiator of enzyme functions. High hair levels do not represent a systemic potassium overload, but may reflect adrenal function and a low stress tolerance; however the clinical significance of hair potassium values is under investigation. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: support adrenal function by increasing tyrosine, B-vitamin and vitamin C intake.
provides strength or “architectural” rigidity to structural molecules of bone, hair, nails, skin and other organ tissue. Research indicates that silicon reduces the degree of atherosclerotic deposits on the aorta, and may also lower serum cholesterol. SOURCE: widely distributed in vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods. There is no RDA for silicon. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: elevated hair/nail levels of untreated hair may reflect greater resistance to injury and better overall health. Very high hair levels are found when the hair growth pattern is disturbed or slowed. To normalize very high levels, support digestive function. Silicon implants may also cause elevated levels. Ask your physician regarding the need for treatment
possesses physiological and chemical properties similar to calcium. Strontium is poorly absorbed by humans, and the intestinal uptake lies between 5-25%. Of that, about 99% is found in bone and teeth. People living in areas where high levels are found in the water supply, show higher tissue levels. The daily intake varies considerably from 1mg/day to 4.7mg/day, according to geography. Strontium can interfere with the calcium metabolism, leading to bone disorders, incl. rickets. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Strontium may compete with the calcium absorption and storage in bone and teeth and when high hair strontium levels are followed by high hair calcium level, the need for an increased calcium supply is indicated. Algae and fibrous cellulose reduce strontium and calcium utilization.
the biological function of this trace element has not been substantiated and deficiency symptoms have not been established, although there is evidence that this trace element influences the glucose metabolism, the sodium/potassium transport and the adrenal catecholamine metabolism. Vanadium appears to catalyze the oxidation of catecholamines and inhibit cholesterol synthesis and lower phospholipid levels. It may have anti-diabetic, weight-reducing function and anticaries effects. SOURCE: fiber-rich foods, dill seeds, parsley and black pepper. Vanadium is highly concentrated in vegetable oils. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: high fiber diet, use of vegetable oil instead of animal fats.
All the biochemical actions of arsenic are attributed to its trivalent forms, widely found in polluted environments. Inorganic arsenic, or arsenite, does accumulate in tissues and ranks second among heavy metals causing death. Arsenite rapidly leaves the blood to be deposited in vital organs and tissues such as hair, skin and nails. Symptoms of toxicity have been associated with alopecia, confusion, constipation, delayed wound healing, dermatitis, diarrhea, drowsiness, edema, fatigue, muscle pains, numbness, seizures, and weakness. Hematological, renal or pancreatic dysfunction may be observed. Chronic arsenic exposure is known to cause anemias, bone marrow depression, cancers of the respiratory tract, skin and neurological problems. Ingestion of relatively large amounts of soluble arsenic compounds, especially on an empty stomach, affect the myocardium, causing death. Long-term exposure to small amounts of arsenic increase hair and urine levels; however considerate chronic exposure results in hair loss. Hair or nails are known to be used in forensic medicine to establish long-term, chronic exposure and slow-rate poisoning. Blood levels do not increase until toxicity has been reached. Urine measurements are used to monitor Chelation Therapy. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Chelation Therapy is the treatment of choice to get rid of acute and chronic deposits. In addition cases of chronic exposure respond well to antioxidant therapy, especially ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, all tocopherols (vit. E) and an increased intake of sulfur-containing amino acids and vit. B6. Arsenic suppresses iodine and selenium.
is considered a catalytic element that has considerable involvement in glycogen synthesis in the liver. Lewin and Chen stated that boron affects the activity of numerous enzymes, might have co enzymatic function but can also inhibit some enzymes such as pyridine and chymotrypsin. Oral administration of boron has a low toxicity, but excessive intake of boron or boron compounds can interfere with the calcium and magnesium metabolism, causing boron to be stored in bone. Dental enamel varies widely in content, and the concentration is similar to that of hair and soft tissue. Boron is rapidly absorbed and excreted via the urine. Toxicity symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, lethargy and induces riboflavonuria. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: check calcium, magnesium, phosphorus levels. Increase riboflavin and pyridoxin intake to reduce or abolish toxic effects of boron.
The major fraction of body calcium resides in bone, with calcium being the most abundant mineral in humans. It is essential for muscular and neurological functions; influences hormone secretion, and is involved in immune/oxidant responses. Symptoms of calcium excess include anorexia, aphasia, ataxia, depressed deep tension reflexes, irritability, memory impairment, muscle weakness and psychosis. The RDA is 800-1200mg/day. SOURCES: dairy products, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, canned fish with edible bones and molasses. Hair calcium levels reflect long-term nutritional intake, and metabolic conditions. Elevated hair levels generally indicate maldistribution of calcium out of bones and into soft tissues, reflecting a masked deficiency. Perming, dyeing or bleaching of hair falsely elevate hair calcium levels and are not indicators of the calcium status. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: check for calcium deficiency symptoms such as nightly spasms, menstrual problems, nervousness, irritability, digestive disorders and insomnia. Increased allergic tendencies and milk intolerance may be present. To normalize calcium levels, increase activity level, reduce fat intake and check phosphorus levels. High fat or phosphorus intake (meat, sugars) can interfere with the calcium absorption. If calcium and magnesium levels are high, increase the intake of both and vitamin D. Support digestive function to further increase absorption.
is part of the Vitamin B12 molecule and is necessary for Vitamin B12 activity and function. Cobalt, which is mainly stored in the liver, activates numerous enzymes, and is excreted in bile. A low dietary intake inhibits fetal development. SOURCES: all animal products, including all meats, fish, cheese, brewer’s yeast and yeast extracts. Strict vegetarians (vegans) and those who lack intrinsic factor risk vitamin B12 and cobalt deficiency. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: increase vitamin B12 intake and/or consumption of cobalt-rich foods.
may stimulate immune functions and demonstrate anti-tumor and antiviral activities. However, Ge is not essential to human health, and low levels do not reflect the need for Germanium therapy. This trace element is not normally found in human specimen and low levels are expected. SOURCE: found in most foods, particularly garlic, camphor, and aloe vera. Also present in drinking water in varying amounts, depending on location.
is essential for the oxygen transport and utilization. Iron is regulated in the body primarily by absorption rather than by excretion. Gastrointestinal function is important in controlling total body iron. The most common sign of deficiency is anemia. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, energy loss and decreased immune function. Predisposing factors to iron deficiency may be excessive intake of copper, manganese, zinc, carbonates, oxalates, phosphates, phytates, antibiotics, coffee, or heavy metal exposure. Excessive blood loss or pregnancy can cause iron deficiency. Daily requirements vary depending on sex, age, and physio-logical status. The RDA is 10-18mg/day. SOURCES: liver, other meats and green leafy vegetables. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: check lead, copper and manganese levels. Prior to iron supplementation, increase intake of vitamin C, B-complex and amino acid to aid absorption.
is not an essential element, but is used for its pharmacological action in psychiatric disorders. Excess intake disturbs mineral transports across cell membranes and fluid balance and can produce nausea, vomiting, tremors, thirst, excessive urination, thyroid swelling, weight gain, drowsiness, confusion, disorientation, delirium, skin eruptions, seizures, coma or death. Some cases of irreversible kidney damage have been reported after long-term lithium therapy. Biochemically, the action of lithium is similar to that of sodium. Lithium is absorbed by the tubuli and mainly excreted through the urine. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: High levels should be confirmed with serum or plasma drawn 8 to 10 hours after oral dose of lithium for routine monitoring of lithium therapy or a 24-hour urine analysis.
activates important enzymes in body tissues such as arginase in the liver and carboxylase enzymes which regulate certain glycolysis steps in metabolism. Toxicity is unlikely without industrial or occupational contamination. Symptoms include anorexia, Parkinson-like neurologic disorder such as spastic gait and mask-like facial expression, psychiatric illnesses, mental confusion, poor memory and poor appetite. Excess Mn can interfere with the iron and copper absorption, and impair the vitamin B1 (thiamin) metabolism. SOURCE: liver, kidney, black tea; contaminated drinking water. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: In untreated hair, high levels reflect body stores due to long-term and chronic exposure. To normalize levels, increase antioxidants, esp. vitamin C intake. Calcium deficiency increases manganese absorption.
serves as a co-factor for xanthine and aldehyde oxidases. Dietary molybdenum is readily absorbed by the intestine and is excreted in the urine and bile. SOURCES: whole grains, legumes, leafy vegetables and organ meats. The RDA is 0.15-0.5 mg/day. Acute deficiency symptoms are unknown in humans. Excess intake of copper, zinc, and sulfates can depress Mo-update, causing disturbances in the uric acid cycle.Low molybdenum levels have been associated with impotency, increased cancer susceptibility, gout, dental caries, defects in the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids,and asthma tendency. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: increase molybdenum intake and support digestive function.
is needed for the metabolic processes of all cells, to activate other nutrients and to form energy-storage and releasing compounds. It is a component of several vital enzyme systems such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and nucleo-proteins. Energy is stored and released in cells by the conversion from one member of the ATP group to another. Nucleoproteins are the major components in cell nuclei that control cell division, reproduction and heredity. SOURCE: all meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. The RDA is 800mg/day. The Western diet easily supplies 1400mg/day and the main route of excretion is via urine and feces. The metabolic action of phosphorus resembles that of calcium. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Elevated hair phosphorus levels are found in the presence of impaired glucose and protein metabolism and indicate a need for a reduction in meat and sugar consumption, and digestive support. Check calcium levels. High Ca and P levels are often found in patients with milk intolerance.
The biochemical role of this essential trace element is to serve as an essential constituent of the enzyme gluthathione peroxidase. Se is linked to cysteine residues in the protein as selenocysteine, which is found in the cytoplasm and mitochondria of liver, erythrocytes, platelets and other tissues. The antioxidant role of Se parallels that of vitamin E, and Se-deficiency responds to Vit. E supplementation. Chronic selenium deficiency has been epidemiologically associated with certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, cardiomyopathy and immune dysfunctions. Causes of deficiency include inadequate selenium or cysteine intake, exposure to toxins incl. mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PCB, etc. SOURCES: wheat bran and germ, Brewer’s yeast, garlic, whole grains, liver, kidney, fish. The RDA is 10-200mcg/day. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: increase intake of selenium, cysteine and vitamin E.
is the most abundant extracellular electrolyte element, which influences acid-base equilibrium and helps maintain osmotic pressure. Sodium is readily excreted in urine and sweat and high hair levels may be an indication of excessive sweating. High hair levels have been linked to cystic fibrosis, but the clinical significance of hair sodium levels is not clear. SOURCES: salt, vegetables, fish, shellfish, meats, eggs, poultry and fish.
is considered essential, because some studies suggest that tin deprivation depresses growth in rats. Tin is poorly absorbed and retained by humans and is excreted mainly in the feces. Once tin is absorbed, both the bile and urine are routes of excretion and the level of accumulation seems related to the intake. Large amounts of tin can accumulate in foods that are in contact with tin plate or are absorbed as tin fluoride from toothpaste. Tin has a low toxicity, but tin salts are gastric irritants causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. High tin levels influence the metabolism of several minerals, including calcium, zinc and alkaline phosphates activities in liver and femur. Tin is a potent inducer of heme oxygenase and thus affects heme-dependent functions. TOXICITY SYMPTOMS: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, tightness of chest, metallic taste in mouth, dry throat. Excessive inhalation of tin oxide can cause Stannosis (pneumoconiosis). THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Chelation Therapy is the treatment of choice. Avoid toothpaste, containing stannous fluoride. Check calcium and zinc levels.
is an important metalloenzyme that is needed for enzyme function and insulin synthesis. It is a co-factor in the absorption and metabolism of many vitamins is needed for the production of sex and growth hormones, wound and burn healing, and DNA and RNA synthesis. Absorption of dietary zinc occurs mainly in the small intestine, and zinc uptake can be competitive with that of iron. Zinc is excreted in feces, urine and sweat. Copper or iron deficiency, anemia, bone and joint pathology, loss of hair color may be present. SOURCE: herring, egg yolks, corn, wheat germ, and legumes. The RDA is 3-30mg/day, depending on age and status. High hair zinc may be caused by slow hair growth due to a defect in protein metabolism, or long-term, chronic exposure. Check for zinc deficiency symptoms such as delayed wound healing. Symptoms of zinc overload are impaired iron, copper and phosphorus metabolism. THERAPEUTIC CONSIDERATION: Elevated zinc levels are almost always linked to other heavy metal toxicity which isn’t always reflected in the hair. A urine challenge test is recommended to evaluate further metal toxicity. Symptoms of zinc overload are similar to zinc deficiency symptoms, causing immune dysfunction.