Heavy metal toxicity has become an increasingly common health concern. Heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum can accumulate in the body over time and cause damage. Thankfully, certain supplements may help remove these harmful toxins from the body.
Causes and Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements that have a high atomic weight and density. They become toxic when they build up to dangerous levels in the body. Here are some of the main causes of heavy metal toxicity:
- Environmental exposure – Contaminated air, water, soil, food
- Amalgam dental fillings – Contain 50% mercury
- Seafood – Large fish contain mercury
- Occupational exposure – Jobs like mining, smelting, welding
- Medications and supplements – Contaminated products
- Leaded crystal, glazes, and paints – Leach lead into food and drink
Symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can be vague and vary between individuals. Some common symptoms include:
- Digestive issues
- Brain fog and trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Mood changes like depression and anxiety
- Nerve damage leading to numbness and tingling
Chelation therapy is a medical procedure that utilizes specialized binding chemicals called chelators to remove heavy metals from the body. Chelators like EDTA and DMSA bind to metals in the bloodstream and help eliminate them through urination and stool.
While chelation therapy can be effective, it may have side effects and requires supervision by a healthcare professional. Because of this, many people look to dietary supplements as a gentler alternative for reducing heavy metal levels.
Top Supplements for Heavy Metal Detox
Here are some of the top science-backed supplements for removing heavy metals from the body:
Chlorella is a type of single-celled green algae. It’s rich in chlorophyll, a potent antioxidant that binds to heavy metals. Studies show chlorella helps lower blood levels of lead, cadmium and mercury while protecting the body from their toxicity.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s also high in chlorophyll. Animal studies have found it’s effective at reducing levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. The algae also contains B vitamins, protein and antioxidants for added health benefits.
Also known as cilantro, studies suggest coriander can mobilize heavy metals by binding to them in the gastrointestinal tract. Adding coriander to the diet may decrease lead, aluminum and mercury toxicity.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can bind to heavy metals and aid their removal. Studies show garlic extract can reduce lead levels in both blood and tissue. Its antioxidant powers also help counter the damage caused by heavy metals.
Milk thistle is an herb that supports liver health and detoxification. Its active compound silymarin acts as an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals and removes toxins from the liver. Milk thistle may specifically help reduce cadmium toxicity.
Probiotics promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. They may reduce heavy metal absorption by binding to them and preventing their reabsorption back into the body. Certain probiotic strains also produce compounds that transform mercury into less toxic forms.
Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that binds to heavy metals. It can reduce lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and aluminum levels throughout the body. Vitamin C also mitigates their toxic effects.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) enhances glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Animal studies have found ALA protects against damage from lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel exposure. It also helps increase heavy metal excretion.
Modifilan is an extract of brown seaweed that contains fucoidan, a unique type of fiber. Fucoidan binds tightly to heavy metals so they can be eliminated from the body more efficiently. Modifilan may specifically help remove lead, arsenic and cadmium.
Bentonite clay is derived from volcanic ash sediment. It develops an electrical charge when mixed with water that allows it to capture toxins. Bentonite may soak up heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic in the gut to reduce their absorption.
Tips for Using Detoxifying Supplements
Here are some tips to get the most out of using supplements to eliminate heavy metals:
- Drink plenty of water – This helps flush out released toxins
- Eat fiber – Fiber binds to metals and removes them through stool
- Sweat – Toxins are excreted in sweat, so exercise and saunas help
- Take breaks – Cycle supplements instead of taking them continuously
- Get tested – Lab tests can determine current metal levels
- Be patient – It takes time to mobilize and excrete metals from the body
Most Effective Combinations
While the supplements listed can all remove heavy metals individually, pairing certain ones together may enhance the detoxification effects. Here are some of the best combinations:
Chlorella + Garlic
Chlorella binds to metals in the digestive tract while garlic contains sulfur compounds that make metals more water-soluble for excretion from tissues.
Spirulina + Milk Thistle
Spirulina removes heavy metals while milk thistle supports the liver’s role in flushing them out of the body.
Probiotics + Bentonite Clay
Probiotics change gut permeability to prevent reabsorption of metals, while bentonite clay traps metals in the GI tract.
Vitamin C + Alpha Lipoic Acid
Vitamin C and ALA are both powerful antioxidants that protect cells from heavy metal damage and increase their elimination.
Incorporating certain supplements into your routine can assist the body’s natural ability to detoxify heavy metals. Start slowly with individual supplements and monitor your symptoms. Be sure to consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider, get proper testing done, and take necessary safety precautions when attempting a heavy metal detox.
|Chlorella||Binds to metals in the digestive tract|
|Spirulina||Removes arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury|
|Coriander||Mobilizes metals for excretion|
|Garlic||Contains sulfur compounds that bind metals|
|Milk Thistle||Supports liver detoxification|
|Probiotics||Bind metals and prevent reabsorption|
|Vitamin C||Antioxidant that removes lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, aluminum|
|Alpha Lipoic Acid||Increases glutathione and metal excretion|
|Modifilan||Binds tightly to lead, arsenic, cadmium|
|Bentonite Clay||Absorbs metals in the gut|