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20 Mental Health Symptoms of Food-Borne Metal Toxicity

366We typically think that our food supply has to be safe for human consumption, right?

Although this is an assumption that makes us feel better, it is one that could be dangerous. There are, in fact, quite a few toxic metals that are common in our food, air, water and other consumer goods. Known as “heavy metals,” these substances could be affecting your mental health.

Metals are naturally occurring in the earth, and flow through the food chain, ultimately finding their way to your dinner plate – and even into your glass of wine, according to WebMD.

Here, we will tell you about three of these metals.

Disclaimer: All of the information here is based on research. However, if you decide to investigate the role that heavy metals may play in your symptoms, proceed conservatively and base your decisions on the most validated information you can find.


Lead is a very dangerous metal that can cause neurological issues. It can be present in contaminated soil, water, some pesticides used on crops, and even in canned goods.

Lead can affect your mental health in a plethora of ways. Those exposed to lead might experience:

1. Trouble concentrating
2. Memory issues
3. Lowering of overall IQ
4. A lowered capacity for speech and hearing

In younger children:

5. Hyperactivity
6. Learning disabilities
8. Irritability
9. Lethargy


Mercury is yet another metal that all of us probably know is very dangerous. Sadly, global pollution of the oceans has resulted in some seafood at the top of the food chain being contaminated with mercury.

This is why many doctors recommend that pregnant women do not consume much seafood while pregnant. High levels of mercury can cause mercury toxicity.

Toxicity can lead to:

10. Lessened cognitive ability
11. Speech delays
12. Difficulty concentrating
13. Repeating the same behaviors again and again
14. Memory loss
15. Emotional instability
16. Hallucinations might also occur in those with mercury toxicity


Most of us might think of aluminum as being a relatively benign metal. However, exposure to it over the years have been linked to lots of mental health problems.

You might find aluminum in highly processed foods like prepared bakery items, cheese spreads, or food coloring. Food additives are yet another place where aluminum might lurk.

Common issues found in those with high levels of aluminum:

17. Involuntary tics
18. Issues with speech
19. Problems with concentration are also common
20. In the long term, aluminum exposure could be linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

What To Do About Heavy Metal Toxicity

Chances are very high that you are not experiencing acute heavy metal toxicity. If you were, you’d be in the emergency room, as it is a life threatening condition.

The concern about heavy metal toxicity is one of chronic, low-grade exposure that builds up in your system over time. This is known as subclinical toxicity. The World Health Organization said the following about subclinical lead toxicity:

Although they are not clinically obvious, the subclinical toxic effects of lead can be very damaging. The premise underlying the concept of subclinical toxicity is that there is a dose-related continuum of toxic effects in which clinically apparent effects have their asymptomatic (but still very real) counterparts (Landrigan, 1989).

Western medicine doesn’t seem to take the issue seriously unless the condition is acute.

Other researchers, however, insist that low-grade heavy metal toxicity is an epidemic. Many alternative health practitioners have systematic healing approaches that include blood tests and detoxification protocols.

It is best to seek out a rigorous and highly qualified practitioner if you are interested in this approach. Some Western physicians have claimed that heavy metal detoxification is a farce. Others warn that cleansing heavy metals from your system must be done under close supervision, as the cleansing process itself can be dangerous. It could place too much of a burden on the liver, for example.

Still other health advocates recommend a gentler approach, such as sweating more, or taking herbal supplements that block heavy metal absorption with your meals. The challenge with supplements is to find verifiable evidence that these formulas actually do actually block heavy metals according to their claims.

The above mentioned company sells a lab verified supplement has posted lab results that indicate reduction in heavy metals with their particular supplement. I have not personally used this product. I did find it interesting the level of research and clinical verification that appears to back it, however.

If I were to proceed with a heavy metal detox protocol, I would certainly consider sweating a lot more, then blocking the metals, and then allowing my body to detoxify at its natural pace. This seems safer than subjecting myself to a heavy metal detox protocol that forces the metals out of your system. I’d want to prevent further absorption, then let my body detoxify according to it’s own schedule. This seems to be the most conservative and therefore safest route.

Further research:


20 Mental Health Symptoms of Food-Borne Metal Toxicity

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). 20 Mental Health Symptoms of Food-Borne Metal Toxicity. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Feb 2015
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