44 Ways Heavy Metals Could Be Affecting Your Health

The hat makers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries often suffered the tremors, speech problems, hallucinations and emotional instability linked to their use of mercury nitrate in the hat-making process. While mercury is no longer used in the hat industry, it is still prevalent in our society. Heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury, as well as aluminum, which is technically a soft metal, are still prevalent in many aspects of life and have been linked to a whole host of health issues. Here are some of the ways heavy (or soft) metals could be affecting your health, depending on the specific effects of certain metals:

Aluminum Excess

Although not strictly a heavy metal, aluminum is found in air, food, soil and water and can have detrimental health effects if the exposures become excessive. Aluminum is found in many baked goods and processed foods, pharmaceutical drugs and over-the-counter medications, deodorants, foil and pie plates, aluminum pots and pans, some municipal water supplies, shampoo and skin creams. Some of the symptoms of aluminum excess include:

  • Confusion
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Bone pain, deformities or fractures
  • Seizures
  • Speech problems
  • Slow growth in children
  • Lung problems
  • Brain diseases
  • Impaired iron absorption or anemia
  • Nervous system problems including impaired voluntary or involuntary actions or twitches

Cadmium Excess

Here are some of the ways long-term cadmium exposure from cigarette smoking, phosphate-fertilized soil and grass, contaminated food or industrial processes such as smelting, can affect your health:

  • Abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fevers and chills
  • Heart damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Muscle pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling fingers
  • Weak bones


Mercury Excess

Mercury is found in many types of fish (such as tuna, marlin, swordfish and orange roughy), amalgam dental fillings, thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs and some batteries. Excessive exposure to this heavy metal can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Disturbances in peripheral vision
  • Headaches
  • Kidney damage
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Muscle weakness and twitching
  • Speech or hearing impairment
  • Tremors


Lead Excess

Lead was used in paint in older homes and offices, some industrial and mining activities, pottery using lead glazes, soil in areas with a history of high traffic flow (due to the use of lead in leaded gasoline years ago), many cosmetics, foods stored in pewter or leaded crystal glassware or grown in soil with high amounts of lead, water in homes or buildings with lead solder or lead pipes. Some of the symptoms of lead excess include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Behavioral problems
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Impaired growth
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Learning disabilities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor Coordination
  • Seizures


Many of the above symptoms or conditions can be caused by a range of other health problems so it is always a good idea to see your doctor if you are suffering from any symptoms. Many testing methods are available to assess metal levels in your body so it is best to consult with a health practitioner who specializes in heavy metals. Additionally, because the detoxification or removal of metals from the body is complex and can actually aggravate conditions if it is done incorrectly, it is best to work with a qualified health professional prior to undertaking any of these practices.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, founder of Scentsational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds:  The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain. Follow her work.


Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago


Caitlin L
Past Member 4 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Hannah A
Hannah A5 months ago

thank you

Christine S
Christine Stewart5 months ago

scary stuff

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim5 months ago

Thanks. Very useful information.

Shirley S
Shirley S5 months ago

Who knows how much heavy metals we were exposed to over many years.

Dennis Hall
Dennis H5 months ago


Barbara S
Barbara S5 months ago


Lorraine A
Lorraine Andersen5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Edith B
Edith B5 months ago

The more we learn, the scarier it gets!