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Do You Know Nutrition: Too much metal in foods can cause health problems

By By Phylis Canion
Dec. 18, 2012 at 6:18 a.m.

Phylis Canion

Is there such a thing as aluminum poisoning? If so, can you please list the signs, symptoms and how someone could develop aluminum poisoning?

Aluminum is a trivalent cation found in its ionic form in most kinds of animal and plant tissues and in natural waters. It is the third most prevalent element and the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust. All metals, however, can cause disease through excess. Aluminum poisoning, a type of heavy metal poisoning, is caused by excessive exposure to aluminum.

Toxic effects are dependent upon the amount of metal ingested, entry rate, tissue distribution, concentration achieved and excretion rate. Overexposure to heavy metals can cause illness and has, in some cases, even caused death. Symptoms of aluminum poisoning are subjective feelings a person has and can be quite varied depending on the length of time of the exposure, which may develop over years.

Signs of heavy metal poisoning may include, anorexia, fever, diarrhea, mental fog, hypertension, arthritis, sore throat, cough, nervousness, emotional instability, disturbed sleep, kidney dysfunction, allergies, autism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, growth impairment, learning disorders, mood swings, muscular weakness, osteoporosis, difficulty breathing, fatigue, headaches, severe abdominal pain, anxiety, mental retardation, hand tremors and liver damage, just to name a few.

Because aluminum is found in virtually all food, water, air and soil, people may be exposed to high levels of aluminum when: eating foods that contain high levels of aluminum, food additives (i.e. firming agents, emulsifying agents, food colorings), consuming products out of aluminum (i.e. cooking pans, skillets, cans), breathing aluminum dust, drinking contaminated water, using deodorants that contain aluminum and eating foods stored and wrapped in aluminum.

Avoid any foods that list aluminum sodium sulfate, aluminum calcium silicate, aluminum stearate, aluminum nicotinate and aluminum potassium sulfate in their list of ingredients. And, if you are wondering how to rid the body of heavy metals, including aluminum, there are two simple recommendations.

First, drink more green and black teas (decaf, of course) because they contain tannins, and tannins are known to bind to heavy metals and prevent the digestive tract from absorbing them. Also, eat more garlic either by adding more fresh garlic to your meals or by taking garlic in supplement form.

Thought for the week: Be kind whenever possible and remember, it is always possible.

Merry Christmas to all and be safe in your travels.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at doc.phyl@yahoo.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.

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