Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a large variety of choice wild edible mushrooms. Many of these mushrooms cannot be cultivated, making them rare delicacies that are only found if the soil, weather, elevation, trees, temperature, etc. are just right. After the rains fall, I head to the forests in search of delicious and nutritious edible fungi. Mushroom hunting is a hobby shared by…


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Growing your own fruits and vegetables is both challenging and rewarding. Many people plant gardens with the expectation that they can control what goes into their food. Gardening, especially in urban areas, has grown in popularity, but unfortunately, it comes with some risks. Contamination with elements present in the air, soil, or groundwater is a concern in both urban and rural gardens, and…


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Have you ever wondered where dietary iodine comes from? Most people are familiar with iodized salt and shellfish containing high levels of iodine, but few realize a vast assortment of food and drinks contain this essential nutrient. What food products contain the highest levels of iodine? It may come as a surprise that most dietary iodine comes from dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.…


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When shopping for jewelry, do you consider what metals make up earrings, bracelets, rings, and other shiny items? A report by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in California detailed that cadmium was present in numerous jewelry items tested from stores including Ross, Walgreens and Nordstrom Rack. The amount of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, ranged from 40-100% in the items testing…


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Gadolinium is a rare-earth heavy metal that most humans will have little exposure to. The designation of “rare-earth” element is misleading as it has a very common medical use: gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs). GBCAs were first approved in 1988 to help make diseased tissues look brighter or darker during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). In 2017 nearly 40% of MRIs used GBCAs, and it is…


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Selenium is a trace essential element that is incorporated into selenoproteins. There are at least 25 known selenoproteins in the human body, their primary roles being antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and thyroid deiodinases that convert thyroxine (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). Deficiencies in selenium can be detrimental to health, while selenium excess can be just as…


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Lead is everywhere. It was commonly used in paint, gasoline, plumbing pipes, jewelry, bullets, fishing weights, glazes, and cosmetics. Some regulations are now in place to eliminate lead’s incorporation into these products, but in many cases, it is still being used. I watched a special on wine in Washington State, and the host explained why leaded crystal glasses are ideal for tasting because of…


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Mercury is one of the most toxic heavy metals. There are numerous natural and man-made sources of mercury, but the most concerning are the ones we are exposed to daily. Mercury is known to affect the nervous, circulatory, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems, along with organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. Mercury primarily targets sulfhydryl groups (sulfur) and…


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Cadmium is a dangerous heavy metal and a known carcinogen. Even though daily exposure is usually relatively low compared to toxins like arsenic, cadmium bioaccumulates with a half-life in the body of 25-30 years. Essentially, the older you are, the more cadmium you have stored in your body. When cadmium exposure is high, it increases cellular oxidation products that deplete antioxidants like…


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A couple years back, I wrote a blog about iodine deficiency in athletes resulting from excessive sweat loss. Later, while studying the kinetics of the iodine loading test which involves taking a 50-mg dose of iodine and collecting urine for 24 hours, I investigated the excretion of iodine in sweat along with urine. Surprisingly iodine levels in sweat tracked urine iodine excretion over a period of…


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