Heavy metal exposure sounds really scary, doesn’t it? Especially when you think of how abundant heavy metals are in nature and how most of us won’t be able to recognize them even when they’re right under our noses! But the good thing is that heavy metal exposure doesn’t automatically mean poisoning or instant death. In fact, some heavy metals (in very little amounts) are essential for human life.
In this blog post, we’ll go over some helpful ways to get rid of excess heavy metals in the body. More specifically, we’ll find out if antioxidants like our Liposomal Glutathione can help with heavy metal detox.
Table of Contents
What are examples of heavy metals?
There are two kinds of heavy metals – those that are beneficial to human health (albeit in small amounts) and those that are highly hazardous (even in tiny amounts).
Beneficial heavy metals (in small amounts)
Here are examples of metals that are essential to human life. Note that when used in a dietary context, these metals are called dietary trace minerals (1):
These minerals can be harmful to health when consumed at high levels over a long period. If you experience symptoms of toxicity (scroll down for the symptoms), then a heavy metal detox may give you some relief.
Interestingly, however, not consuming enough trace minerals can also have negative health consequences. Check out our Adult Multivitamin if you think you’re not getting enough of these trace minerals (and other essential nutrients).
Toxic heavy metals
These heavy metals do not contribute positively to human health and can be highly hazardous even in tiny amounts. The World Health Organization also include them in their list of 10 chemicals of public health concerns (2):
Heavy metals can enter our bodies through various sources, including the foods we eat and the surroundings we interact with regularly. Examples would be air and water pollution, cosmetics, tobacco smoking, industrial products, agricultural production (e.g. pesticides), and more.
What is a heavy metal detox?
Heavy metal detox, a.k.a. chelation therapy, is the process by which excess heavy metal is removed from the body.
Basically, a chelator or chelating agent binds and draws the toxins out of the body. These chelating agents may either be synthetic or natural.
The chelator reacts with the metal ions to form a water-soluble complex that can then be excreted from the body. But for detox to work properly, the heavy metal causing the toxicity will need to be identified first. This is because different metals bind to different chelators.
For example, in lead poisoning, the chelation agents may include dimercaprol, succimer, and edetate calcium disodium. For arsenic poisoning, dimercaprol, succimer, and penicillamine can help draw out the toxic metal ions (3).
All of the chelators mentioned above are synthetic. If you’re worried about the possible side effects of synthetic chelators, then a natural chelator like glutathione may be more to your liking (more info below).
How do antioxidants like glutathione help with heavy metal detox?
The signs and symptoms of heavy metal poisoning we’ve listed above are the physical manifestations of oxidative damage that’s happening at the cellular level. It represents the clear imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant activity in cells, that is, free radicals outnumber the antioxidants!
Fortunately, antioxidants like glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids can act as natural chelating agents (4). This means they can help reverse the damage brought about by heavy metal poisoning. However, more research will need to be done in terms of which antioxidant will work best with which heavy metal.
That said, when it comes to antioxidant power, glutathione reigns supreme. This is because glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant. It’s present in all tissues, with particularly high concentrations in the liver. As an antioxidant, glutathione works to repair oxidative damage, including damage from heavy metal exposure (5).
Glutathione is produced naturally in the body, but production decreases as we grow older. Exposure to harmful chemicals further reduces our glutathione levels. In fact, one of the main markers of toxic metal overload is low glutathione levels (6).
With dwindling glutathione levels, our body needs all the help it can get. Fortunately, daily glutathione supplementation can help increase the body’s glutathione stores, raise blood glutathione levels, and increase natural killer cell activity (7). Moreover, glutathione can also regenerate other antioxidants, specifically vitamins C and E (5).
Liposomal glutathione to the rescue!
Glutathione in liposomal form is a great option for natural heavy metal detox. Here’s why:
- It’s far better absorbed than regular oral glutathione.
- Liposomes are resistant to digestive enzymes.
- It’s not as expensive (or painful) as intravenous glutathione.
- Provides the best value for your money.
Our Intelligent Labs Liposomal Glutathione supplement uses premium Setria® Glutathione from Japan. The liposomes are, on average, only 200 microns wide, which greatly helps with absorption!
Moreover, our glutathione is made from sunflower lecithin, so it’s guaranteed soy-free (soy is a common allergen that should be avoided, especially when using glutathione for heavy metal detox).
And here’s a fun tip: add a teaspoon of our liquid Liposomal Glutathione to your favorite smoothie for an instant heavy metal detox smoothie!
What are the signs you may benefit from a heavy metal detox?
Prolonged exposure to toxic heavy metals can have severe health consequences and even death if left untreated. If you’re concerned about acute poisoning, please get in touch with a doctor or a poison control center in your area.
Unfortunately, diagnosis can be difficult since many of the symptoms are similar to other more common health issues. Toxicity levels also depend on many factors, such as:
- The type of heavy metal
- Amounts ingested or exposed to
- Length of exposure
- Your health status
If you experience the following several of the following symptoms, you may benefit from a heavy metal detox:
- Horizontal lines on fingernails
- Uncharacteristic behaviors
- Abnormal heartbeat and difficulty breathing
- Tingling and/or loss of sensation in hands and feet
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Again, if your symptoms are life-threatening, it’s in your best interests to get tested ASAP!
Antioxidant supplements like glutathione have shown plenty of promise when it comes to detoxification. However, it is very important to get tested if you suspect toxic metal poisoning. Professional medical intervention may be necessary, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
(1) National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 14, Trace Elements.
(2) 10 chemicals of public health concern, 1 June 2020, taken from: https://www.who.int/news-room/photo-story/photo-story-detail/10-chemicals-of-public-health-concern
(3) Chelation: Therapy or “Therapy”?, taken from: Chelation: https://www.poison.org/articles/chelation-therapy
(4) Jomova K, Valko M. Advances in metal-induced oxidative stress and human disease. Toxicology. 2011;283(2-3):65-87.
(5) Glutathione! Joseph Pizzorno, Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Feb; 13(1): 8–12.
(6) Chelation: Harnessing and Enhancing Heavy Metal Detoxification—A Review, Margaret E. Sears, ScientificWorldJournal. 2013; 2013: 219840.
(7) Richie JP Jr, Nichenametla S, Neidig W, et al. Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione. Eur J Nutr. 2015;54(2):251-263.