Heavy metal toxicity is silently destroying our health. Do you have it?

By Tanya Seth

Jul 27, 2022

What is metal toxicity?

Metal toxicity in the body implies the accumulation of heavy metals in the soft tissues of the body in amounts that are toxic to the body. Heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, etc. get into our system through the environment. When harmful metals like lead, mercury, etc. are released by industries as by-products, they contaminate the soil and water which are further consumed by us. Heavy metals get into our system through food grains and water. When these metals get into our system for a prolonged period of time or in heavy amounts, it creates toxicity in the body. 

While metals like zinc, manganese, and iron are important for the functioning of our body, heavy metal accumulation might lead to various health issues. Let us look at some metals that are commonly found in our body and their sources, how to find out we have metal toxicity in our body and how we can detoxify our bodies. 

The most common types of harmful metals for humans 


Most people have some level of mercury toxicity. High levels of mercury are common in people who eat shellfish regularly. The major source of mercury exposure for most people is fish and seafood. Mercury is also a common ingredient in a lot of products we are exposed to on a daily basis such as cosmetics, metal dental amalgams (fillings), paints, inks, certain medications, preservatives, adhesives, disinfectants, cleaners, exhaust fumes, fertilizers, industrial waste, contaminated water and many more. Mercury and lead are also known to pass onto newborns through their mothers. 


Lead toxicity is an important environmental disease and its effects on the human body are devastating. There is almost no function in the human body that is not affected by lead toxicity. Because of excessive use of lead for centuries lead is now found its way into our soil and tapwater resulting in contaminated crops and food systems. The presence of lead is very common in all densely populated areas. Human exposure to lead and its compounds occur mostly in lead-related occupations with various sources like leaded gasoline, industrial processes such as smelting of lead and its combustion, pottery, boat building, lead-based painting, lead-containing pipes, battery recycling, grids, glass production, the arms industry, pigments, etc. Other sources of lead exposure include cosmetics, newspapers, paint, toothpaste, etc. 


Cadmium is a toxic metal that occurs naturally in the environment. It accumulates in the body through food and water, but also through the air we breathe and the environment. Cadmium is a well-known carcinogenic and is associated with most types of cancers, renal dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes amongst others. Cadmium is most commonly found in soil, water, contaminated foods such as rice and grains, and smoking. Cadmium toxicity is also linked to nutritional various deficiencies. 


Arsenic is highly toxic to human health. Arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis occurs when someone is exposed to high levels of arsenic. Although uncommon, poisoning can occur by inhalation or through dermal absorption or exposure to contaminated water. Despite the dangers, arsenic has been in use for ages, mostly in industrial applications, insecticides, and during wars. The main source of arsenic is conventional (non-organic) chickens. It is still used in chicken feed in some countries because it makes chickens grow 50% faster. 


Thallium is the most toxic among heavy metals. This is a deadly metal that is mostly ingested via smog and car exhausts. Its toxicity is comparable to that of cyanide and it is used as rat poison and for the control of ants. Thallium causes a variety of health issues and chronic fatigue. A 2006 study in the Czech Republic found that vegetables in the cruciferous family tend to accumulate especially high levels of thallium, especially Kale. Thallium is most commonly found in industrial settings with coal combustion, exhaust fumes, and semiconductor manufacturing. Thallium is slow acting and very difficult to diagnose. 


Aluminum is a toxic metal contributing to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It affects the brain, impairing memory and cognition. It has been linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, and even autism. Aluminum hydroxide is used widely in pharmaceutical and personal care products. In India, aluminum pots and pans are also widely used in the kitchen. As a result, it can slowly seep into the body over years. Aluminum can be found in many other everyday use items like aluminum foil or tin foil, antiperspirants, ceramics, toothpaste, construction material. baking powder, animal feed, pesticides, tobacco smoke, cosmetics, etc 

Thankfully our bodies have built-in mechanisms for clearing out toxins. It’s also rare for metals to accumulate to dangerous levels, unless someone has been exposed to contaminated water supplies or occupational exposure, such as mercury fumes in industrial settings. But over time with continued exposure when metals accumulate past certain levels they become harmful. 

Common Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity

It usually takes significant exposure to get severe symptoms and statistics that metal poisoning is rare, but on the other end of the spectrum, low to moderate levels of metal exposure is quite common because of environmental factors and things like poor diet, sluggish digestion, toxic environments, and inflammatory and sedentary lifestyles. 

Here are the potential signs you need a heavy metal detox.

  • Stomach pain, constipation, and other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog, confusion, and memory loss
  • Headaches, joint, and muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Acne, skin problems
  • Tingling and burning sensations
  • Abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating
  • Autoimmune dysfunctions
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Kidney dysfunction, liver dysfunction
  • Parkinsons
  • Arthritis
  • Thyroid and other hormonal disorders
  • Metabolic disorders

When to consider heavy metal toxicity?

The unfortunate truth is that on todays date most all of us will have some levels of toxic metals in our system. If you feel any of the above-mentioned symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it might be possible that you might be having heavy metal toxicity in your body.  You should consider testing for heavy metal toxicity if:

  • You are experiencing brain fog, anxiety, depression, fatigue, or other associated symptoms persistently. 
  • Your symptoms have not improved even after trying other means like changing your diet or lifestyle or addressing other health issues.
  • If you have possible prolonged exposure to toxic metals through the environment, ie. you might have lived in an old home, worked in factories, or under conditions where you might have been exposed to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, etc.

Detecting metal toxicity

Different metals work differently so there is no single method to detect all metals. Blood tests and unprovoked urine tests are the most common and widely accepted forms of testing for heavy metal toxicity. Hair mineral analysis is the quickest and best way to determine if you have heavy metal toxicity and mineral deficiency. At Awaana Health, we recommend heavy metal testing through a combination of hair, blood, and urine tests to get a complete picture of one’s toxicity levels. 

Along with the presence of metals, it’s also important to know the levels of minerals to understand whether certain metal toxicities are linked to mineral deficiencies to understand which minerals you need (or don’t need) to supplement. (Certain minerals in excess can also be toxic.) 

How to eliminate metals from the body? 

Eliminating toxins from your body of any toxins is an important part of optimizing your overall health. Remember if you’re pregnant, elderly, or severely ill, do not try a heavy metal detox as mobilization of the toxins could accompany negative side effects for those conditions.

1. Consume detoxifying foods

Improve your diet to focus on detoxification. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet and aim for 35 gms of plant-based fiber. Make sure you hydrate yourself along with the diet so that you can easily flush out the toxins regularly. Have your share of green-leafed vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, fresh herbs, and green vegetable juices and teas (made with ginger, lemon, and turmeric) to boost your liver health. Increase your intake of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Also, try to switch to organic fruits and vegetables.

2. Supplementation

Certain elements can help push metals out of the body. While specific supplements can only be given once the type of metal toxicity and mineral deficiencies are identified but in general Vit E, Vit C, Candida, Spirulina, and Turmeric are useful in helping reduce the toxin load.

3. Sauna

Reddish heat lamp sauna therapy is one of the least costly, safest, and most powerful ways to eliminate toxic metals, toxic chemicals, and chronic infections. (It must be done under the supervision of an expert.)

4. Incorporate detox practices into your lifestyle

Sweating is a good way to detox your body. Make sure you are working out regularly. You can also go for other kinds of therapies like massages, dry brushing, etc.

5. Manage inflammation

Reduce refined sugar, alcohol, excess caffeine, conventionally-raised meat products, and other commonly inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and soy in the diet to help limit your daily toxic load.

6. Do a heavy metal detox with Awaana Health

We offer a heavy metals detox program for anyone who might be concerned about metals. The first step in this process is testing and determining the levels of metals in your body. Based on the results a customized detox protocol is designed to fit the specific needs of your body by a functional medicine practitioner and detox coach who will teach you everything about the process and guide you every step of the way. This includes supplement recommendations and a detailed diet plan and recipes. 

Most conventional doctors don’t check for metal toxicity because they don’t recognize the symptoms and they are often accompanied by multiple health issues. But metal toxicity can be a root cause of many diseases which is why it’s an important consideration in functional medicine. To truly reverse or eliminate any disease one has to identify the underlying factors that can be causing it or acting as a catalyst. 

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