Metal can be bad for you- not the metal music but the metals in the environment. We have learned a lot about metals over the past half a century. Before Ozzy was getting his metal on there were children who played with toxic metals to learn about them and metals are still impacting children, and adults, in everyday products today.
Picture this, three middle school children stand at a school desk in the 1960’s intrigued by how a thick liquid moved and how, even though it was liquid, it was hard to put your finger through. The children were in Science class learning about mercury, a substance that today would evacuate a local hospital if it accidentally spilled on the floor. A hazardous waste team would be called in to clean up a substance that school children once played with to learn about the periodic table. Has mercury, like other metals that were once commonly used, changed much over the past 5 decades?
The answer is easy. No, they haven’t changed. Mercury, along with many other metals we are commonly exposed to, has not changed but our knowledge of metals has changed. We now know how toxic mercury is for our health. While many dentists are using alternative materials, there are still many dentists who utilize mercury for filling cavities. Even though we have safe alternatives, mercury fillings are not a thing of the past because humans don’t always change as fast as their knowledge.
How Do Metals Impact Health?
Are you wondering how metals impact our health? Metals are neurotoxins, which means they cause damage to the brain when present in the body, a condition known as heavy metal toxicity. (1) Some people handle metal exposure with little to no side effects, but others are less able to detoxify these metals from their system and experience chronic health issues as a result.
When these substances enter the body, they are taken and stored inside of fat cells to protect us from the toxin. Fat cells are all over the body, including the brain. The blood-brain barrier is designed to protect us from these metals leaching into the brain, but a condition called leaky brain, breaks down this barrier and allows the toxic metals to enter and wreak havoc.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar: chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, and headaches? These are the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity or being a metal head. While that may sound like a great band name, it can lead to some serious repercussions. In more severe cases, metals cause autism in children and Alzheimer’s in adults. Children with autism nearly always present with elevated toxic metal levels in their system and patients with Alzheimer’s show increased aluminum levels in their brain autopsies.
Where Are Metals?
Lead was once a common substance used in everyday items such as paint, pipes, and even gasoline in vehicles. Today we understand the dangers of lead poisoning and take reports of lead exposure in our environment very seriously. Lead receives much publicity. You will hear stories of lead in toys and even contaminating water supplies in communities. Publicity and public health programs keep lead top of mind but it is far from the only toxic metal we are exposed to daily. Many other metals are still commonly used in household items, dental procedures and food products.
Aluminum is another metal we encounter every day. We cook with it, store food in it, and apply it to our body through deodorant.(2) Manufacturers started using aluminum during World War II when tin became scarce due to rationing. Several products, now made with aluminum are still mistaken for tin even today. For example, aluminum foil is often still referred to as tin foil and aluminum cans used for canned vegetables and soups are still commonly called tin cans. Neither of these products have been made from tin for the last 60 years.
Around this time of year, you may be tempted to get a flu shot to protect against winter viruses. Unfortunately, these vaccines are also a source of aluminum, and in some cases, even mercury. (3) These metals are added to the vaccine as a preservative and to ensure that the immune system will be stimulated to create immunity to the dead virus it carries with it.
There are multiple ways you and your family can encounter metals on a regular basis even after all we know about their toxicity. Our knowledge and understanding of our world can often change faster than how we interact with it as humans. We get stuck in common practice and what we have always done.
Here are some easy ways that you can avoid common encounters with metals:
• Use parchment paper instead of aluminum foil
• Buy your soups and veggies in a box rather than a can
• Even better -make those soups from scratch
• Use deodorant without the aluminum- don’t worry there are lots of good options on the market
• Avoid vaccines
• Before your dentist drills ask what type of filling will be used
• Do you have a mouth of silver? Ask about replacing current fillings
• Check your make-up for metals – take a close look at foundation and eye make-up
• Choose fish known for low mercury content- usually your smaller fish choices and the fish that big fish eat
What Do I Do Now?
Don’t be a metal head. It’s time for action to get these metals away from your body. There are easy ways to avoid being a metal head by checking your products and swapping the ones that contain metal out for new options. You aren’t a dog, or Ozzy Osbourne, so you can learn new tricks.
If you suspect metals may be causing more severe health concerns, connect with a doctor who can address your concerns and get tested. Removing these metals from your system will help protect your brain from unwanted invaders that damage function and lead to irreversible brain disorders.
Written By: Dr. Jesse Anderson