Heavy Metals In The Body: Are They Bad For You?

Understanding the impact of heavy metals on your body. Next Health discusses their potential effects and offers insights for a healthier lifestyle. Read more.

Heavy Metals In The Body: Are They Bad For You?
Next Health Staff
December 6, 2023

Heavy metals are those elements that we often use to build things in the world, ranging from skyscrapers to microchips. But they’re also crucial minerals, like zinc and iron, that play key roles in bodily chemistry and important physiological transformations.

But while heavy metals are indeed important, they can also be bad if your body absorbs too many of them in its soft tissues. This can lead to a host of negative side effects that are all related to heavy metal poisoning.

While heavy metal poisoning can be dangerous, there are ways to test for heavy metal concentrations in your body and methods by which you can filter out the heavy metals to restore your body to a healthier state. Let’s break down everything you need to know about this subject.

What Are Heavy Metals?

“Heavy” metals are those metallic elements that have relatively high densities. Even in small or trace amounts, like the amounts that can sometimes accumulate in the human body, they’re notable as being heavier than other types of metals. Examples include zinc, iron, copper, and so on.

Heavy metals are actually necessary for bodily health as key minerals that your body needs for proper cellular function. However, overexposing yourself to heavy metals can result in them being absorbed in harmful quantities in the body. This may result in a condition called heavy metal poisoning, which can itself be to other side effects were conditions like Wilson’s disease.

Are Heavy Metals Bad For You?

Only in significant concentrations. Your body does need minute amounts of elements like copper and zinc in order to function correctly.

Heavy Metal Poisoning

When someone suffers from heavy metal poisoning, this means that one or more heavy metals have accumulated in toxic amounts throughout the soft tissues of their body. This can result in many toxic side effects. Common heavy metals that are absorbed in toxic amounts include:

  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium

These heavy metals can accidentally be ingested or overly absorbed due to the food you eat or from environmental pollutants, such as heavy metal concentrations in the air or water. Additionally, heavy metal poisoning can come about as a result of improper coating on food containers or other commonly touched objects, lead-based paint, and other environmental hazards.

While heavy metal poisoning can be a very threatening condition, it’s ultimately quite rare in the United States. Furthermore, heavy metal poisoning can only occur when an individual is exposed to lots of heavy metals over a long period of time. For example, being around lead-based paint for a few minutes is unlikely to result in heavy metal poisoning.

Symptoms Of Heavy Metal Poisoning

It’s important to know the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning in case you happen to suffer from this condition, or you think you might have been exposed to too many heavy metals sometime in the past.

General heavy metal symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Chills throughout the body
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

Furthermore, children are uniquely vulnerable to heavy metal poisoning since this condition can cause their bodies to create weak bones. Pregnant women must also be careful about heavy metal poisoning since this condition can affect their unborn child.

In addition to general symptoms, heavy metal poisoning symptoms can vary based on the type of metal that has accumulated throughout the body.

For instance, mercury poisoning is often characterized by:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision damage or changes
  • Difficulty walking or performing other motor-related tasks
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nerve damage in the hands and face

Meanwhile, lead poisoning is often characterized by:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Constipation or other stomach conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory loss
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue

Arsenic poisoning can lead to symptoms like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • An unusual heart rhythm
  • Muscle cramps throughout the body
  • Spots on the skin, as well as red or swollen skin

How Does Heavy Metal Poisoning Occur?

Heavy metal poisoning can be dangerous in part because there are multiple ways it can occur. For example, heavy metals can accidentally be ingested over time in your food if your meals are contaminated due to a food container, or because of a heavy metal problem at the manufacturing or food production site from which your meal came from.

As with symptoms, different types of heavy metals have different possible causes.

Arsenic poisoning is most often caused by:

  • Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood, which may absorb the contaminated water passively
  • Ingesting different pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides
  • Living in areas with high levels of arsenic in the soil, or working near a hazardous waste site

Cadmium poisoning often occurs because of:

  • Working at a hazardous waste site or industrial setting
  • Welding with alloys that contain cadmium
  • Inhaling lots of cigarette smoke, even secondhand smoke

Lead poisoning is possibly the most well-known type of heavy metal poisoning in America and can be contracted due to:

  • Living in or working in a home that has lead-based paint for long periods
  • Doing industrial or construction work in areas with lots of lead-based paint
  • Being around firearms and firing ranges – the lead from some bullets can fill the air and accidentally be absorbed by the lungs

Mercury poisoning can often be caused by:

  • Consuming fish contaminated with mercury or drinking water contaminated with mercury
  • Mining various refined gold and silver ores
  • Producing, mining, or transporting mercury

Any and all of these heavy metals can also be ingested in toxic amounts if they are present in certain types of medication or products that you use frequently. It’s important to note, again, that heavy metal poisoning is very rare in the United States, even though there are theoretically lots of potential ways to contract this condition.

Who Is At Risk For Heavy Metal Poisoning?

Some people are unfortunately exposed to more heavy metals than others due to their lifestyle or occupation. It may be a good idea to get tested for heavy metal poisoning if you:

  • Have various metal fillings or other dental work
  • Live in places with older pipes or structures
  • Have certain thyroid-related health issues
  • If you believe you have been exposed to heavy metals for any other reason in the past
  • If you have any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances in certain vitamins and minerals
  • If you live in an industrial are very polluted area

Ultimately, it’s a good idea to get tested no matter what. While heavy metal poisoning is rare, it’s also difficult to tell without an actual blood test, and environmental contaminants can be invisible or hard to detect.

How To Tell If You Have Heavy Metal Poisoning

The best way to make sure you don’t experience the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning is to get yourself tested. It’s for this reason that health optimization clinics like Next Health offer heavy metal toxin tests.

In a nutshell, a heavy metal poisoning or toxin test works like a regular blood test. An authorized and professional lab worker or wellness expert takes a blood sample from a patient, then sends that sample to a laboratory setting where the blood can be analyzed properly.

By watching for certain types of biomarkers and for scanning the blood for different types of heavy metal elements, the clinic or health optimization center can offer some insight as to the heavy metal content of a person’s blood.

They’ll be able to tell the patient whether they currently have a concentration of heavy metals in their body or if they’re doing great.

For example, Next Health’s heavy metal test includes an advanced screening for all the major types of heavy metals. In addition, patients will benefit from a team-driven analysis of your results. This will allow you to develop a solution or treatment plan if you do have heavy metal poisoning or are close to experiencing certain symptoms.

Furthermore, our experts will provide an in-depth review of your results and offer a comprehensive consultation. We can advise you on how to:

  • Modify your lifestyle to avoid absorbing more heavy metals
  • Change your diet so that you eat certain toxin-resistant foods, or avoid foods that may have an increased risk for heavy metal poisoning
  • Take certain supplements or therapies that can assist with heavy metal detoxification

Where To Get A Good Heavy Metal Test

The important thing to remember is that at home heavy metal tests are unreliable. This is simply because at-home tests don’t use precise laboratory equipment in order to provide their patients with results.

On the flip side, health optimization clinics like Next Health have the staff and tools necessary to properly administer a heavy metal test and accurately describe the results. It’s always better to schedule an appointment and consultation with a clinic like ours rather than try to analyze blood work alone.


The good news is that signing up for a new heavy metal blood test with Next Health is quick and easy. We accept everyone who’s concerned about heavy metal levels in their bodies.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us today and we’ll set up a meeting and consultation.





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