Elements The Building Blocks of Life

In high school chemistry, we learned there are 118 elements in the periodic table. These are the fundamental building blocks of our world. Ninety-four of these elements occur naturally on earth.

Toxic Metals include:

  • arsenic – excess leads to death, intestinal pain, headaches, brain damage
  • cadmium – excess causes kidney disease, various cancers, and neurological disfunction
  • lead – excess leads to ADD, anemia, ADHD, and gout
  • mercury – excess causes kidney disease, anorexia, epilepsy, various cancers, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and AIDs among other disorders
  • manganese – excess includes neurological disorders, cardiovascular dysfunction, and reproductive disorders. Deficiencies include fainting, hearing loss, and overall weakness.
  • selenium – excess leads to gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, loss of nails, fatigue, irratibility, and neurological damage
  • silver – excess causes liver and kidney damage, respiratory damage, immune dysfunction, and low blood pressure
  • tin – excess causes immune system dysfunction, anemia, and reduced lymphocytes
  • zinc – excess leads to nausea, vomiting, pain, diarrhea, and metallic taste

Other lighter metals include:

  • beryllium – occupational exposure to beryllium by inhaling beryllium-containing dust, fumes or mist is associated with lung cancer. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) lists beryllium as a known human carcinogen.
  • lithium – lithium is known to be an essential trace element that promotes brain and bone health and supports the immune system, but side-effects from excess amounts of lithium in the body can cause nausea, diarrhea, drowsiness and lack of coordination.

Metals make up the greater proportion of the periodic table. Those metals with high atomic number are so-called "heavy metals." Most heavy metals are toxic to human life, though some are essential in trace amounts. Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, mercury, selenium, silver, tin, and zinc are particularly well-known environmental hazards. Iron, manganese, and zinc are examples of a heavy metals that are toxic in high concentrations, but essential to human life in trace amounts. While heavy metals receive the most attention, light metals such as beryllium and lithium can also be toxic. Lithium is used as a psychotropic drug, but its toxicity on the kidney must be carefully monitored by a physician.

A characteristic of toxic metals is their ability to accumulate in the body. Thus, even low chronic exposures may lead to detrimental health effects in time. So-called "bioaccumulation" occurs mainly by the elemental replacement of calcium in bone. This is actually a good thing, because at relatively low concentrations, your bones act as a reservoir, capturing toxic metals and keeping them from doing you harm. However, with continued exposure, and rising levels of toxins in bone, the process of bone turnover, or bone "remodeling," releases these metals into your bloodstream and from there they are distributed throughout the body and can interfere with physiological functions.

It is important for each of us to know if we are in balance with the elements in our body. Test your elemental content or that of a loved one.