Over the past few decades, health issues related to aluminum exposure have been widely debated. Along with other heavy metals such as mercury and lead, aluminum is implicated in certain pathological manifestations, degenerative diseases and cognitive disorders.
But what is aluminum and how does it affect us? How are we exposed to aluminum and are there ways to avoid exposure? Are there acceptable limits for aluminum? Can we get rid of aluminum from our body?
We will try to unpack these questions about aluminum. More importantly, we’re going to share the best ways to manage aluminum exposure. We will learn how to avoid excess aluminum and learn the safest aluminum detox best practices.
What is aluminum?
It is said that we live in the age of aluminum. Commonplace today, the lightweight, durable and functional qualities of aluminum are found everywhere in our daily lives, in planes, trains and automobiles as well as in soil, food, water and air. But this has not always been the case. Pure aluminum does not exist in nature. It took the advent of electricity to learn how to break down chemical compounds into their elements. Incredibly abundant, aluminum is the 13th element of the periodic table. It is the third most common chemical element on Earth after oxygen and silicon. In fact, it is the most common metal on our planet and 8% of the earth’s core is aluminum.
Modern industries, including automotive, construction, aviation, energy and food production, rely heavily on the valuable properties that aluminum offers. Extremely light and extremely strong, aluminum is also flexible, non-magnetic, corrosion resistant and electrically conductive. Additionally, aluminum easily bonds with other chemical elements to form compounds. Currently, we know about 300 aluminum compounds. Aluminum alloy rims, for example, are made of aluminum, silicon and magnesium. An alloy of zinc and aluminum is used in the production of electronics, tablets and smartphones. Fascinatingly, scientists continue to develop new aluminum alloys. Aluminum sulfates, the most common form of aluminum compounds found in nature, are widely used in cosmetology, water purification, cooking, medicine, and other chemical industries.
What effects does aluminum have on the body?
Assessing aluminum levels and determining how aluminum moves through the body can help us understand how aluminum affects the body and our physiology. It is difficult to measure aluminum throughout the body, such as in bones, brain and tissues, where heavy metals can accumulate. However, aluminum is measurable in our bodily excretions, such as urine and feces. Bone marrow can be tested. More importantly, it can be measured relatively non-invasively in blood. Normal serum aluminum levels are 10 µg/L. Dialysis patients may have serum aluminum levels of 50 µg/L. Above 60 µg/L indicates increased absorption, 100 µg/L is potentially toxic, and levels above 200 µg/L may cause clinical symptoms and signs of toxicity.
Adverse health effects from aluminum exposure include damage to cell membranes, as it can act as a cell membrane disruptor. There is evidence for bio-persistence and brain translocation as aluminum can cross the blood-brain barrier. Exposure to aluminum can lead to increased excitotoxicity in brain tissue with increased brain inflammation. It has negative effects on the immune system and may contribute to increased oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier.
Is aluminum exposure associated with certain disease states?
Aluminum has neurotoxic potential and may contribute to neurodegenerative disorders. Studies have revealed aluminum deposits in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. A 2018 study titled Aluminum in brain fabric in Autism showed that brain tissue from donors with autism spectrum disorder, a neurodevelopmental disorder, contained extraordinarily high amounts of aluminum. Aluminum exposure can contribute to other forms of chronic disease, including autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, allergies, and arthritic conditions.
How are we exposed to aluminum?
Aluminum can enter the body through inhalation, skin contact, food intake and drinking water. As an example, the legal limit for aluminum in drinking water is 0.20 parts per million (ppm) as determined by the World Health Organization (WHO), although this varies by country. jurisdictions. Foods that tend to be high in aluminum include fish, rice, formula, and baked goods. Processed foods that contain artificial food coloring, aluminum-containing cheese, milk, or baking powder can contribute to edible sources of aluminum. Food packaging such as aluminum or foil cans, or food contact materials made from uncoated aluminum also contribute to potential aluminum ingestion. Occupational environments high in aluminum dust, such as aviation or automotive manufacturing, can impact a person’s aluminum load. Tattoos are a source of aluminum exposure. Aluminum can be absorbed through the skin from aluminum-containing products such as antiperspirants, shampoos, skin creams, sunscreens and toothpastes.
There is synergistic toxicity when exposed to both aluminum and residues of the herbicide glyphosate in our food. Glyphosate binds to aluminum, which facilitates greater absorption in the body, especially easier entry into the brain.
Additionally, people are exposed to aluminum through medical procedures such as dentistry, dialysis, aluminum-containing medications, and vaccines. Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals such as antacids and laxatives may contain aluminum. In vaccines, aluminum compounds are added as an adjuvant to induce an immune response with the aim of improving the ability of vaccines to stimulate immunity. Aluminum salts are the most common adjuvants in infant vaccines. In this study, the measurement and statistical analysis of the aluminum content of infant vaccines showed that the reported aluminum content of a range of brands of infant vaccines varies widely. The study concluded that the aluminum content of vaccines must be accurate and independently monitored to ensure both efficacy and safety due to the known neurotoxicity of aluminum.
Can we avoid exposure to aluminum?
Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid aluminum exposure. Take progressive steps to minimize aluminum in your life. Choose aluminum-free products, especially if they come into contact with the skin, such as antiperspirants and sunscreens. Read packaged food ingredients and choose aluminum-free food packaging and cookware. Favor organic products that will limit exposure to glyphosate because it facilitates the absorption of aluminum in the body. Ask questions, read labels and request information regarding aluminum in the products you prefer or are exposed to. Whenever possible, use alternatives that reduce exposure to aluminum. Advocate for safe alternatives to current disease prevention technologies in vaccines and medical therapeutics.
Are there ways to buffer aluminum exposure?
In addition to aluminum removal and reduction, there are treatments that can buffer aluminum exposure. Aluminum is excreted from the body in multiple ways, including urine, stool, sweat, skin, hair, nails, and semen. Certain foods help bind aluminum, making it easier for your body to eliminate it in your stool. The simple act of increasing water intake helps support the kidneys while flushing out excess toxins. In addition, an exercise program or sports activity can help eliminate toxins.
How to recover from aluminum exposure
Healing is a deeply personal experience. Many things influence health. Healing approaches can include elements of nutrition, structural, energetic and emotional healing modalities, as well as spiritual spheres. Take time for self-reflection and introspection, and encourage self-improvement and self-respect. It may be necessary to appropriately address previous physical injuries or emotional trauma. Diet and nutrition will help balance nutrient deficiencies and metabolic imbalances.
Aluminum detoxification: good practices
- Use food sources of aluminum binders to help excrete excess aluminum.
- Include aluminum binders such as fulvic and humic acids, activated charcoal, chlorella, and cilantro.
- Add extra fiber through a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables and ancient whole grains to help eliminate excess aluminum.
- Increase water intake to support the kidneys through the detoxification process and increase urine production.
- Mineral water rich in silicon over a long period facilitates the excretion of aluminum by the kidneys.
- Make sure you are getting enough trace minerals such as magnesium and zinc to help support metabolic activity.
- Restore intestinal hygiene with pre and probiotics.
- Stimulate lymphatic drainage with lymphatic massage and lymphatic yoga exercises.
Unfortunately, aluminum, an abundant and useful element, can be toxic to the body and affect overall health. However, aluminum exposure can be managed. Minimizing exposure and using strategies to detoxify aluminum can help prevent negative health effects from aluminum exposure.
Epoch Health articles are provided for informational purposes and are not a substitute for personalized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Have a question? Email us at [email protected]