Did you know that 95% of lead in the body is stored in our bones? According to a study by Rabinowitz M. Published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 1991, lead can remain active in our blood stream for up to 90 days, but lead stored in our bones can remain active for decades.

Concerns with Circulating Lead Levels in the Blood

We all have probably heard by now that exposure to lead in our body can lead to problems with our nervous system. Exposure to high lead levels can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults and ultimately cause death. In pregnant women, high levels of exposure to lead may cause miscarriage and high level exposure in men can damage the organs responsible for sperm production.

Children are much more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults. Children with large amounts of lead in the body may develop blood anemia, severe stomachache, muscle weakness, and brain damage. Even low levels of lead can affect a child's mental and physical growth.

Exposure to lead is most dangerous for young and unborn children. Harmful effects include premature and underweight births, decreased mental ability in infants, learning difficulties and reduced growth in young children. Source- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

So if 95% of the Lead in the Body is Stored in Our Bones, Then Why Doesn’t Everyone Have Lead Toxicity Symptoms?

Lead stored in our bones only becomes an issue when our bones undergo resorption (the breakdown and release of minerals from the bones) and release lead into the blood stream. Most adults with healthy functioning kidneys and enzyme activity are able to slowly excrete 95% of this circulating lead in just a few weeks; however, children are usually only able to excrete about 32% from the body, leaving them at higher risk of lead toxicity - Ziegler et al., 1978.

The breakdown down of the bones is most common during the latter half of pregnancy and after menopause for women and for men over age 70. Since unborn children are at the highest risk for lead toxicity, maintaining healthy bones during pregnancy is crucial to prevent the release of lead.

What Can We do to Stop Lead from being Released from Our Bones?

#1. Get adequate minerals and vitamin

Trace Minerals Research Vitamin D Pak
This is the best methods of reducing bone break-down. Make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of Calcium and Vitamin D. Many experts recommend taking between 2,500 IU and 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, along with 1,000 to 1,500 mg of Calcium per day. My suggestion is to receive 30 minutes of sun exposure per day, without sunscreen, with exposure of the face, arms and legs. During the colder winter months, when sun exposure is less likely, supplement with 2,500- 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Don’t go overboard on Calcium either. It’s important to maintain a balance of Calcium and Magnesium, since Magnesium helps regulate Calcium transport. I would look for “Ionic Calcium” supplements and start with 400 mg per day with no less than 200 mg of Ionic Magnesium. “Ionic minerals” refers to minerals that have been broken down into their smallest and easiest form for our bodies to absorb. Remember, Vitamin D3 assists with Calcium absorption, so combining Vitamin D3 with an Ionic Calcium means that you wouldn’t necessarily need to supplement with the higher 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg recommendations, due to the higher percentage of calcium available to your body.

Trace Minerals Research’s Vitamin D Pak is one example of an excellent supplement that incorporates Vitamin D3 with Ionic Calcium and ionic Magnesium.

Partner with your healthcare professional to adjust your needs of Vitamin D3, Calcium and Magnesium, based upon your 25 (OH) D test and Dexa Scan results.

#2. Don’t go overboard with Protein!
Excessive protein intake was associated with a higher loss of calcium from our bones, according to a Yale University School of Medicine study conducted in 1992. As a general rule of thumb, divide your weight in half and never exceed that number in grams of protein (if you weigh 140 lbs, then don’t exceed 70 grams of protein per day). Again, this is especially important if you’re pregnant or after menopause, or for males over 70 years of age.

#3. Eliminate your exposure to tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoke inhibits the activity of the osteoblasts (the parts of our body that ‘blast’ or deliver calcium to our bones and teeth). Smoking also results in increased breakdown of estrogen, lower body weight and earlier menopause, all of which contribute to lower bone mineral density and an associated release of lead into the blood stream. The effects of smoking on bone health - Clin Sci (Lond). Sept 2007

#4. Avoid high amounts of phosphorus

Eliminate soft drinks and Sport drinks that contain high levels of phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid, while you are pregnant. Getting too much phosphorus will cause an unhealthy balance between calcium and phosphorus in the body, as phosphorus looks for calcium to bind to; taking it from the bones, if necessary.

#5. Avoid your exposure to lead

Drink filtered water (especially if drinking from homes built before the 1940s that contain lead pipes), avoid make-up or hair dyes that contain lead, wash your hands if you or your child has been in a home or building with lead based paints or if you have handled printing ink. Also eat organic produce that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides that contain lead. When purchasing dietary supplement that contain herbs and minerals, it is important to buy a high quality supplement from a reputable brand, since lower quality supplements may contain higher lead levels.

I’m not an advocate of fruit juice, due to the high sugar content, preservatives, low vitamin content, etc., so I advise eliminating fruit juice and replacing it with organic fruit. But, if you must buy fruit juice to appease your little one, look for brands that have little to no lead levels. Here are the EPA’s lead results for fruit juice, with their respective manufacturers- http://envirolaw.org/documents/ProductsTestedforLeadFINAL.pdf

For those of you concerned with possible lead toxicity, partner with your healthcare practitioner to have a blood lead level test conducted and look for a safe and quality Heavy Metal Chelator that contains pure sources of chlorella and cilantro, such as Natural Path’s HMD Heavy Metal Detox product. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, always wait until you are through breast-feeding to begin any product that may increase lead elimination and instead, support your bones with proper vitamins and minerals for bones.


Author's Bio: 

Tom is an NASM CPFI, ACE CPT with a B.S. in Nutrition and Owner of KidsVitaminShop.com. He has spent the past 14 years working in the Nutraceutical industry, with a broad range of tasks including: Manufacturing Dietary Supplements, New Product Research and Development, Healthcare Practitioner Dietary Supplement Education, and DSHEA Compliant Marketing. He has a 3 year old son and enjoys educating parents on the nutritional needs of infants, toddler, children, teenagers, adults and seniors.