How to minimize the damage of toxic metals

5 tips to protect bone from toxic metal damage

No matter how we may try to eat “clean,” our food, water, and environment brings us a serious load of toxic metals — lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium.

Lead and cadmium, for example, are “tucked away” in the skeleton to limit damage to the rest of the body — but bone cells are damaged during storage. Worse, during periods of high bone breakdown, such as menopause, in pregnancy and lactation, or excessive weight loss, they are freed up to injure other body systems.

That’s why it’s so critical to do what you can to reduce toxic metals in your body. Here’s what I recommend:

1. Get enough alkalizing nutrients

Chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis makes toxic metals more toxic. Alkalizing nutrients help reduce uptake and enhance excretion of toxic metals. Many of the best detoxification allies are also key bone-building nutrients:

  • Calcium can help limit your absorption of both cadmium and lead. Maintain a calcium intake of 1200 mg a day —more if pregnant or lactating.
  • Zinc is an essential mineral in key toxic metal–removing compounds called “metallothioneins.” Most folks should get at least 15 to 30 mg zinc daily.
  • Magnesium deficiency encourages uptake of toxic minerals. Strive for 500–800 mg magnesium a day.
  • Vitamin C is important for successful detoxification and binding of the average daily toxic metal exposure. Take at least 2000 mg of ascorbate (vitamin C) daily.

All of these nutrients are included in my Better Bones Builder supplement.

2. Limit exposure

You can’t avoid toxic metals altogether, but you can drink pure spring or filtered water, breathe clean air, and avoid products contaminated by heavy metals (such as some seafood, dental “silver” amalgams) to limit exposure.

3. Focus on the “toxic metal–buster foods”

Consume “super foods” high in available sulfur, including garlic, onions, ginger, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Such foods enhance production of glutathione, a key antioxidant. Also, high fiber foods help the body bind and excrete toxic metals. Set a goal to consume 30 g of fiber a day.

4. Remember the beneficial bacteria

Microbes (probiotics) in the gut play important roles in protecting you from toxic metal absorption. For example, Lactobacillus microbes can sequester arsenic, lead, and cadmium from the environment. Eat fermented foods and take probiotics daily.

5. Water, air, exercise

Drink several glasses of pure water a day, relax, and breathe deeply several times a day, and exercise often to a light sweat.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do – right now – to start limiting the effects of toxins on your bone!

What are your favorite ways to detoxify?


Engström, A., K. Michaëlsson, M. Vahter, B. Julin, A. Wolk, and A. Åkesson. 2012. Associations between dietary cadmium exposure and bone mineral density and risk of osteoporosis and fractures among women. Bone 50(6):1372–1378.

Gulson, B. L., K. R. Mahaffey, K. J. Mizon, M. J. Korsch, M. A. Cameron, and G. Vimpani. 1995. Contribution of tissue lead to blood lead in adult female subjects based on stable lead isotope methods. Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine 125(6):703–712.

Jaffe, R. 2013. Ascorbate/vitamin C: Effective removal of toxic metals. Presented at International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, June. Available:

Khalil, N., J. A. Cauley, J. W. Wilson, E. O. Talbott, L. Morrow, M. C. Hochberg, T. A. Hillier, S. B. Muldoon, and S. R. Cummings. 2008. Relationship of blood lead levels to incident nonspine fractures and falls in older women: The study of osteoporotic fractures. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 23(9):1417–1425.

Sears, M. E. 2013. Chelation: Harnessing and enhancing heavy metal detoxification—A review. Scientific World Journal, Article ID 219840. DOI: 10.1155/2013/219840.

Symanski, E. and I. Hertz-Picciotto. 1995. Blood lead levels in relation to menopause, smoking, and pregnancy history. American Journal of Epidemiology 141(11):1047–1058.

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