Got heavy metals?
If the elevation of heavy metals is modest (for example, less than twice the upper limit of the reference range), I think it is best to use zinc supplementation as a gentle approach to help detoxify. Here’s how I recommend using zinc for heavy metals.
My previous episode on how to supplement with zinc can be found here:
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Read the Transcript
Mercury, lead, cadmium, oh my! This is how to use zinc supplementation to help you detoxify from heavy metals.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. And this is Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we’re going to talk about using zinc supplementation to detox from heavy metals.
So here’s the thing. I don’t know of any studies in humans showing how zinc supplementation can help reduce levels of heavy metals, but I do know that zinc is absolutely necessary for heavy metal detoxification. We make our own endogenous chelator to get rid of heavy metals, called metallothionein. And part of the response to heavy metals is to make more metallothionein, but to do so is zinc-dependent. You can only respond to heavy metals with this protein, metallothionein, that helps get rid of them to the extent you have enough zinc.
But here’s the thing. All the scientific experimental data that we have suggests that the ability of metallothionein to respond to heavy metals is not just zinc-dependent in a way where if you have enough zinc, you can make it, and if you don’t, it’s a problem. It’s dependent on zinc in a linear fashion across deficiency, normal range, and higher than normal concentrations of zinc.
In other words, if you are not deficient in zinc, I believe that it is probably the case that if you increase your zinc status further, as long as you don’t cause any problems with zinc toxicity or deficiencies of other minerals, increases of zinc above normal, even beyond curing a deficiency, getting the zinc status higher will help you better—more effectively detoxify from heavy metals.
And so when I, the way that I look at this is if you have a really severe case of a clinical problem from toxicity, this is a whole ‘nother ballgame where you need to be doing whatever you can, working with the appropriate healthcare professional. But if you get a lab test that says your mercury is a little bit high, you don’t know if you have any symptoms, it’s, you know, it’s clearly not double the normal range, let alone higher.
Then I think when you’re dealing with something moderate like that if your alternative is a chelation therapy that has all its own dangers from greater mobilization of that heavy metal, the potential for it to get into other tissues, but also the potential of any chelation therapy is to cause deficiencies of other minerals including zinc, then it’s much more gentler and safer to cause a little gentle boost to your zinc status than it is to engage in a chelation therapy, again, when we’re talking about a moderate increase that doesn’t have obvious clinical manifestations. So in those cases, what I would do is start using zinc supplementation in accordance with the two episodes ago “How to Supplement with Zinc” that I will post a link to in this description.
As a brief summary, you want to get the right form, you want to take it on an empty stomach if you can, and you want a low dose like 15 milligrams balanced with copper, such as Jarrow’s Zinc Balance. So I would take something like Jarrow’s Zinc Balance on an empty stomach once a day, and when I say empty stomach, maybe an hour before the next meal, once a day. See how that impacts your levels, consider tweaking it up to twice a day or at most three times a day and see if that helps bring the heavy metals down. My suspicion is that most of the time, that will work, and I think it’s much gentler and safer than trying to do a chelation therapy for those cases of heavy metals.
Again, when you have a severe toxicity, you’re dealing with clinical manifestations, that’s a whole other ballgame.