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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Lead is an incredibly dangerous heavy metal with no known beneficial use in the body. It mimics calcium, affecting all calcium-dependent biological processes, and is known to disturb the cardiovascular, renal, endocrine, and nervous systems. In children, the brain is the most sensitive target, as the blood brain barrier is less effective in children than in adults, potentially causing…


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A recent news story reports that the Clean Label Project, a non-profit organization focused on health and transparency in consumer product labeling, tested 530 baby food products for toxic elements and chemicals. The results were not good. Sixty-five percent of products tested "positive" for arsenic, 36% for lead, 58% for cadmium, and the tests even showed high levels of BPA in “BPA Free”…


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A recent study from researchers at the Mayo Clinic in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that people following a gluten-free diet have significantly higher arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in urine and blood than those not following a gluten-free diet. Another similar study in 2006 revealed that vegans and vegetarians have an increased…


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Over the past year there has been a plethora of news stories about lead exposure. From Flint, Michigan to Portland, Oregon, details have emerged about schools, homes, water supplies, and other areas and structures contaminated by lead. It hardly surprises me when these pop up in the news, as lead has been used generously in piping, paint, gasoline, ammunition, and batteries, among many other…


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The lead exposure stories that have dominated U.S. news recently now have parents scrambling to determine if their children have been exposed. Parents are right to be worried because lead affects children differently than adults, primarily due to its detrimental effects on a developing brain and nervous system. I covered 10 need-to-know facts about childhood lead poisoning in an earlier blog.In…


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Over the past few months there has been a spike in news stories related to elevated lead levels in U.S. public water systems, beginning with the crisis in Flint, Michigan. This has initiated investigations into current water testing methods and probes into violations that have been swept under the rug. In many cases the public water supply is safe, but there's a hidden concern you need to know…


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Urine, serum, plasma, whole blood, red blood cells, feces, hair, fingernails…the list goes on. How do you decide what biological sample(s) to use for element analysis? Can results be compared to scientific literature or do they have clinical significance? Is it possible for values to be elevated or low in one sample type and normal in another? Do test results indicate recent intake, body burden,…


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