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Heavy-Metal Toxicity: 16 Ways to Limit Your Exposure

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Heavy-Metal Toxicity: 16 Ways to Limit Your Exposure

By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life

What would you think if someone asked you to consume a dose of heavy metals every day for the rest of your life? Most likely, you’d be horrified. But truth be told, you’re already doing it. Everyone ingests small amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury daily. It’s not an option or an immodest proposal – it’s an environmental mandate.

The environment, unfortunately, is laden with heavy metals, mostly as a result of big-industry waste. Anyone who eats a fish sandwich, inhales secondhand smoke, drinks a glass of water or simply breathes air can be exposed.

Heavy-metal toxins is one of those doomsday topics that makes John Q. Public and even some medical experts want to scoff and look away. But the threat is real, and while the extent of the potential damage is still being debated, you don’t have to wait to begin protecting yourself. There are dozens of simple ways to minimize your exposure and curtail potential dangers.

The key is to be proactive about what you can change and mindful about what you can’t. Knowing what you’re up against can help you strike a healthy balance, and may inspire you to learn more about the heated environmental and political debates that surround this important issue.

Tom McGuire, DDS, a holistic dentist in Santa Rosa, Calif., and an expert on mercury-free dentistry, compares the body’s slow accumulation of heavy metals to the damage done by smoking. A person isn’t going to get lung cancer from the first cigarette, he says, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t worry about the long-term health risks of smoking. “Sadly, most people don’t realize they are being poisoned by heavy metals until they have already affected their health.”

To confound matters even further, heavy-metal toxicity can masquerade as a host of other ailments, so it may fly under the radar of conventional healthcare practitioners. “Most physicians don’t think to look at heavy metals as an underlying cause of disease,” says Liz Lipski, PhD, an expert in dietary detox and author of Digestive Wellness (McGraw-Hill, 1999). “It’s just not in their training.”

Symptoms of chronic heavy-metal exposure include depression, irritability, mood swings, tremors, autoimmune diseases, chronic infections and cancer. Skeptics point out that most of these ills can be caused by any number of other factors.

You can cut down on the amount of heavy metals you imbibe by cleaning up your diet and living space. Here’s a guide to four of the most common heavy metals – arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury – the effects they have on the body, and the ways you can mitigate your exposure.

(Click through to end for text-only printable version)

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Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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11:23AM PDT on Apr 3, 2015

Thank you everyone & Megan for writing. I learned a lot from all of you!

10:13PM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

Just move to Tibet- maybe.

8:04AM PDT on Sep 26, 2010

what about the new clear fillings? are those made of the same toxic ingredients?

4:48AM PDT on Aug 23, 2010

What's ugly are the mercury filings that dentists had previously poisoned us with!

1:58PM PDT on Aug 22, 2010

"Chelation (pronounced key-lation) therapy removes metals from the body and it has been around since the 1920's" - that's ugly !

dentists Gainesville

5:51PM PST on Dec 4, 2009

What about aluminum in antacids, cake mixes, and elswhere.
Research shows that aluminum is a neurotoxin that causes dementia, memory loss, and death. It is suspected to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease.

3:58AM PST on Nov 18, 2009

Chelation (pronounced key-lation) therapy removes metals from the body and it has been around since the 1920's. See

11:52PM PST on Nov 6, 2009

I work with kids with autism and I strongly believe that heavy metals have something to do with it. In the US in 2003 we had 1 in 150 and in 2007 we already have 1 in 63 kids with autism. Kids today get 48 doses of vaccines before they turn 6 years old. If you use homeopathy you know that even trace amounts of a substance can have a reaction in your body. Go online and find what's in your vaccine, each manufacturers ingredient list is a little different and some do have Mercury in it and also Aluminium, Formaldehyde, Triton-X 100 (Polyethylene glycol P-isooctylphenyl ether) is a toxic detergent ect. So take care of your kids because we adults did not have so many vaccines. Outlaw mercury fillings and drastically reduce the amount of vaccines you are getting.

2:40PM PST on Nov 6, 2009

What a timely article, I have my first appointment with a mercury free dentist on Monday morning to start replacing my amalgam fillings. I had a heavy metal body burden urine test and my level for mercury was off the chart. It really scared my Naturopath and she wanted me to detox last June. I told her not until I had my fillings replaced. There are only 2 bio dentists in CT and the one closer to where I live is mostly about the money. So I'll drive an hour to see the other one but I'm lucky for that much. This dentist had me take a bio-compatible blood test to see what dental materials I am allergic to. I'll be detoxing after the work is done.

Sharon, I'll be e-mailing you for some detox advice.

9:28AM PST on Nov 6, 2009

Oops, I forgot the link to the article and study (see PDF at bottom of page):

Will reply to any inquiries Monday since I'm going away for the weekend.

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