The 4 Metals to Watch Out for Your Long-Term Health
By Don Colbert, MD
There are two problems with heavy metals: (1) they are toxic and cause disease, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, and (2) they accumulate over time. As they build up, our bodies store these toxins in the worst places—our brains, blood, bones, and fat.1They slowly saturate the cell membrane and prevent the body from doing its job.2
Humans aren’t the only ones accumulating heavy metals. Plants and animals do so as well. And if those plants and animals are part of the food chain, then our bodies must deal with them even more so.
Over time, the slowly accumulated toxins begin to have their disease-causing effect. Because it happens so slowly, the results are unexpected and may appear “suddenly.”
Had preventative measures been taken, the toxins never would have accumulated, and the subsequent diseases would not have gained a foothold. Prevention is truly the best cure!
Here are the most-common heavy metals that are known to cause, among many other things, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Heavy Metal 1: Mercury
Of all the heavy metals, mercury is the worst. It has been known to cause countless health problems, including the very plaques and tangles in the brain always found in Alzheimer’s patients.3
Our primary sources of mercury are the silver fillings in our teeth and fish, but mercury is also in drinking water, air, oceans, and as well as soil, in certain vaccinations and cosmetics. Some occupations, such as mining, have higher levels of mercury exposure than average.
Mercury in silver fillings: In 2007, the World Health Organization stated that our biggest daily exposure to mercury is from our silver fillings (dental amalgams).4 And dentists still use it to this day! About 55 percent of the silver fillings in our teeth are mercury, and each filling releases one microgram of mercury per day into the body.5 If you have five or ten fillings, that adds up! The answer is to get the fillings replaced with non-mercury fillings. I suggest doing only one or two
at a time, not all at once, and finding a mercury-free dentist.
Mercury in fish
Big fish have the most mercury because they live longer and accumulate more in their flesh over time. Also, these mercury levels are rising. For example, the mercury in tuna has been rising by 4 percent every year.6
Mercury in cosmetics
Some soaps, lotions, and creams contain mercury. Look at the label (if there is no label, that is suspect as well) for the words mercurous chloride, calomel, mercuric, mercurio, or mercury.7
Heavy Metal 2: Arsenic
Over time, the accumulation of arsenic in your body can affect every organ, including your brain, and has been found to lead to cancer, kidney and liver disease, numbness of limbs, hearing issues, gut problems, and much more.8
Arsenic is in groundwater and soil, which means it can reach everywhere. Unfortunately arsenic is both odorless and tasteless. Because arsenic is often found in groundwater, it’s also found in drinking water and the many foods that use that water.
Arsenic can be both organic as well as inorganic. Our bodies do not typically absorb the organic type (in fish and other seafood) at all, making it less of a health risk.9
To get it out of your body, I always suggest first focusing on reducing exposure to arsenic as that will make the biggest impact. But if you have symptoms of arsenic poisoning or have blood work that shows high levels of arsenic, use chelation agents: DMSA, DMPS, and penicillamine. Also, choose organic foods, including rice, chicken, and others.
Heavy Metal 3: Lead
Though mercury is ten times more toxic to your neurons than lead,10 lead is itself a very dangerous heavy metal. We don’t use lead pipes any more, but we are still exposed to lead through drinking water, gasoline, paint, batteries, some canned foods, cigarette smoke, cosmetics (i.e. lipstick, eyeliner), some water pipes, and even children’s toys.
Lead is also in the soil and old buildings. Lead-based paint has been banned for residential use since 1978, but it’s still around. Think dust. Every big city in the world existed before 1978, which means that the dust in these cities still includes lead in the old paint particles. It’s everywhere in big cities, and we breathe it every day.
Inhaled lead will work its way into the body, but most lead poisoning occurs through what we eat or drink.
To get it out of your body, I always suggest first focusing on reducing exposure to lead, as that will make the biggest impact, but if you have symptoms of lead poisoning or have blood work that shows high levels of lead, use chelation agents: succimer, British anti-Lewisite (BAL), and CaNa2EDTA.
Heavy Metal 4: Cadmium
Cadmium, though not as well known, is also toxic to our bodies. It is naturally occurring, but because it is water-soluble, cadmium can easily travel from soil to plants to you.11 This usually results in hypertension, kidney and bone issues, blood disorders, lung damage, a loss of smell, a higher cancer risk, and several neurological diseases.12
1. Joseph Pizzorno, The Toxin Solution. (New York: HarperOne, 2017), 19.
2. Neil Nathan, Toxic (Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing, 2018), 25.
3. Robert Siblerud et al., “A Hypothesis and Evidence That Mercury May Be an Etiological Factor in Alzheimer’s Disease,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16, no. 24 (December 17, 2019): 5152, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245152.
4.“Health Risks of Heavy Metals From Long-Range Transboundary Air-Pollution,” World Health Organization, 2007, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789289071796.
5. Pizzorno, The Toxin Solution, 25.
6. Paul E. Drevnick et al., “Increase in Mercury in Pacific Yellowfin Tuna,” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 34, no. 4 (April 2015): 931– 934, https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.2883.
7. “Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products,” US Food and Drug Administration, November 23, 2021, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/ consumer-updates/mercury-poisoning-linked-skin-products.
8. Benoit I. Giasson et al., “The Environmental Toxin Arsenite Induces Tau Hyperphosphorylation,” Biochemistry 41, no. 51 (December 24, 2002): 15376–15387, https://doi.org/10.1021/bi026813c.
9. Denise Wilson, “Arsenic Consumption in the United States,” Western Oregon University, 2015, https://people.wou.edu/~taylors/es420_med_geo/med_geo/Wilson_2015_Arsenic_Consumption_US.pdf.
10. Siblerud et al., “A Hypothesis and Evidence That Mercury May Be an Etiological Factor in Alzheimer’s Disease.”
11. Shaista Qadir et al., “Modulation of Plant Growth and Metabolism in Cadmium-Enriched Environments,” Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 229 (2014): 51–88, https://doi. org/10.1007/978-3-319-03777-6_4.
12. Agneta Åkesson et al., “Cadmium-Induced Effects on Bone in a Population-Based Study of Women,” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, no. 6 (June 2006): 830–834, https://doi.org/10.1289%2Fehp.8763.