Heavy Metals and Kids Health

Heavy Metals and Kids Health

Aluminum, copper, mercury and lead are words we are familiar with and associate with things like piping and industry. However these heavy metals are far more prevalent than many of us parents realize and are subsequently affecting the delicate health of our children. Everything from ADHD and other learning disabilities to autism and cancer have been linked to an over-accumulation of heavy metals.

Read about the early detection of autism

Most of us can withstand reasonable exposure to chemicals or heavy metals. When the “reasonable” level is surpassed, or you have a child with a more sensitive constitution, problems can arise. Sometimes these problems are subtle and get blamed on other things. Fatigue can be blamed on anything, as can poor memory. If parents start to note a consistent pattern of unusual behavior or symptoms, they should continue their research into causes.


Lead is one of the most problematic and abundant heavy metals. Although efforts have been made to remove lead from our environment, lead is still commonplace due to lead found in old homes (the paint on the walls), in soil (from gasoline in past decades) and water pipes. Recently reports have surfaced about lead being found in imported, toys and sports materials.

Read about excess lead in baby food

The problem with lead is that it interferes with brain functioning. As a result, mood imbalances, seizures, learning disorders and even mental retardation can result. Some common symptoms of lead poisoning are headaches, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue and vomiting.


Aluminum is dangerous because it can accumulate in the brain, organs such as liver and kidneys, as well as bones and muscles. Signs of aluminum poisoning are hypersensitivity to light, noise and temperatures, muscle weakness, bone pain and delayed growth. Alzheimer’s has even been linked to concentration of aluminum in the brain.

Some common sources of aluminum are vaccines, cookware including baking sheets, aluminum foil, baking powder, lipstick, drugs, water, air, dust and soil.

Read more about toxic metals in lipstick


Mercury is a dangerous heavy metal that concentrates in the nerves, brain, liver and kidneys. Over-accumulation of mercury can lead to mental disturbances such as poor concentration and memory loss, nerve damage and thyroid problems.

Mercury exposure can come from vaccines (Thimerisol), mercury filled amalgams, and by eating fish contaminated by water pollution due to the combustion of coal. Most of us underestimate the amount of mercury that can bio-accumulate in our bodies as a result of eating certain fish.

Pregnant women, women of childbearing age and children should all be very cautious of what types of fish and how much of these fish they eat. Albacore tuna, swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel should all be avoided. A study posted on www.gotmercury.org estimates that mercury exposure costs the United States $5.1 billion in health care costs.


Although some copper is needed by the body, too much can be quite harmful. That is why parents should be concerned about unnecessary exposure to this trace mineral and heavy metal.

Symptoms of copper exposure include headaches, insomnia, depression, learning disorders and fatigue.

The most common source of copper in our daily lives today is through water passing through copper piping. Although this is not the only source as it can also come through cookware, mining, sewage treatment plants and electrical wiring materials.  

To avoid excess exposure avoid tap water, copper cookware and attempt to eat as much organic food as possible. Copper testing can be done on urine, hair and blood.

What Parents Can Do:

  • Avoid continued exposure to the source of the heavy metal i.e. drink only purified water, test soil on property, eat organic, etc…
  • Detox the bodies of contaminated children. But do so only under the supervision of an experienced health care provider.
  • Avoid non-organic animal products such as conventional meat and fish and dairy. Heavy metals can easily concentrate in higher fat sources of these foods.
  • Choose seafood carefully.
  • Be conscious of which toys and products you bring into your home. 

Image: I Nancy

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Lilian is a registered holistic nutritionist who has worked in the nutrition and corporate wellness fields for the over a decade. She teaches pediatric nutrition, delivers corporate and public nutrition seminars, runs a weight-loss program, does one-on-one nutritional counseling and writes on nutrition and wellness topics. Since having her son Noa, Lilian has taken a keen interest in educating mom’s to be and new parents about proper nutrition during these special periods. Lilian has been featured in Elle Magazine, Flare, Today’s Bride and The Weekly Scoop, MSN/Sympatico’s Weight Loss Challenge and appeared on City TV.