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Toxic Exposure and Heavy Metals

Poor nutrition and elevation of heavy metal levels usually go hand in hand, both are factors that cause learning disabilities.

Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between childhood learning disabilities (and other disorders, including criminal behavior) and body stores of heavy metals, particularly lead. Learning disabilities seem to be characterized by a general pattern of high levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, copper, and manganese, as determined by hair analysis. Poor nutrition and elevation of heavy metal levels usually go hand in hand, due to decreased consumption of food factors and trace minerals that are known to chelate these heavy metals or decrease their absorption.

Screening for lead toxicity is an essential process when evaluating a child with symptoms of ADD or developmental delay (DD). However, a recent study did not find significantly higher lead levels in children with ADD and DD than in normal controls. This study seems to refute the need for lead-status evaluation in ADD and DD; however, the study used blood lead levels as an indicator of body lead burden. The problem with blood lead measurements is that they reflect recent exposure and do not accurately evaluate lead concentration in the brain. Hair mineral analysis and EDTA challenge have provided entirely different results.

When should we suspect heavy metal poisoning? It should be considered in ALL cases of learning disabilities, but especially under circumstances where a child's behavior suddenly changes. When a child is observed to be increasingly irritable, moody, emotional and subject to uncontrolled tantrums of temperament, suspicion should be aroused.

Lead is one of the greatest offenders in small children. Despite the efforts to remove lead from the environment such as in paints and gasolines, lead is still prevalent in and around us. Older homes still have coats and coats of lead-based paint on everything within the environment. Children chew on all of it; the walls, window sills, and furniture are regularly ingested by the tasting youngster.

Serious lead poisoning or toxicity can lead to depression,seizures, and even permanent mental retardation, by altering the biochemistry in which the brain functions.

While emphasis has been placed on lead as a source of toxicity in children, we must not overlook other minerals which in their inorganic form are just as bad as the lead in our environment.

Cadmium and mercury are becoming an ever-increasing problem for all of us. The major source of cadmium is in cigarette smoke. Cadmium is used in several forms in the processing of cigarette tobacco. When the tobacco is burned, the cadmium is released into the air and is inhaled by those around it.

Cadmium is naturally offset by zinc, but when zinc levels in the body are low in relationship to cadmium, kidney function may be effected, causing hypertension and ultimately kidney failure. It is also interesting to note that selenium, like zinc, is a natural antidote to both cadmium and mercury poisoning.

The removal of harmful minerals from the body tissues can be likened to a house cleaning. Because the environment presents these toxic forms of minerals to us daily, this house cleaning must be an ongoing process.

Anyone interested in obtaining a hair tissue mineral analyses and has trouble finding a reputable lab may obtain the test through The Institute of Nutritional Science at 1-888-454-8464.

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