Inside – Know about the heavy metals that cause issues with the thyroid gland. And we are exposed to these heavy metals in our daily environment. Also, understand what to do once you know you have heavy metals in your body?
Research is clear that your thyroid disorders are a result of the interaction between genetic factors.
One of the major environmental factors that we need to look into is heavy metal exposure. We have different kinds of heavy metal exposure on a daily basis.
Our environment is filled with several heavy metals, some of them have been associated with thyroid disorders. Especially heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic have been associated with a thyroid disorder.
Most people think that their environment is not such that puts them at high risk for these heavy metal exposure. Because they feel they are not working in a chemical factory or their environment is very clean.
But these heavy metals have crept into our daily things and that’s the reason the majority of us are getting exposed to them on a daily basis.
Also, it depends on our body’s ability to get rid of these heavy metals. As we all have inbuilt detox mechanisms but in some this detox mechanism doesn’t work perfectly, and they can’t handle the regular exposure of these heavy metals.
Lets look at different heavy metals which can be causing your thyroid issues.
HEAVY METALS THAT CAUSES THYROID ISSUES
Mercury is one of the oldest metal that has been known to be called an endocrine disruptor.
What this means is that mercury has been associated with harming the different endocrine glands, especially the thyroid.
It is was seen that there was a very high concentration of mercury in the thyroid gland after their body was exposed to mercury externally. That is, mercury has a special affinity for thyroid tissues, and with any kind of exposure that your body gets all that mercury can get deposited to the thyroid gland.
Mercury exposure is more concerning for females who have Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder.
A study on women showed that there a positive association between exposure to mercury and thyroid antibodies. And the higher the exposure the more risk of developing these thyroid antibodies.
The exact mechanism of how mercury damages the thyroid is still not well established. But there are some proposed theories.
One of them is that mercury might interfere with the utilization of iodine in the thyroid and thus interferes with thyroid hormone production.
Another concern is that mercury might be inhibiting the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 hormone. Now, the T3 hormone in our body is the active form of thyroid hormone, so if something interferes with the conversion of T4 to T3 then it can lead to a lot of problems.
Now the biggest question is that how do we get exposed to mercury.
There are three main chemical forms of mercury:
(1) organic mercury, used as fungicides, herbicides, and wood preservatives; fish and sea food
(2) inorganic mercury, for antiseptic and dermatological preparations; and even in cosmetics
(3) elemental mercury, used in The production of batteries, thermometers, and fluorescent tubes and also is present in dental amalgams.
The exposure routes of mercury include the ingestion of food such as fish and seafood, dermal absorption through cosmetics, and amalgam tooth fillings.
So if you will see each and every one of us might be getting exposed to mercury on a daily basis and might not know about it. Hence, it is important to have a high suspicion about mercury being a toxin in our body and getting tested for it.
There are several ways of checking the levels of mercury in our body, the most common one checking the levels in the blood. But the more preferred method of checking mercury is in the urine.
Urine levels of mercury are more stable and give us a better evaluation of chronic exposure of mercury especially of the inorganic and elemental mercury levels. And plus it’s an easy test to do with a home kit as compared to the blood test.
Lead is another heavy metal that is present in our environment in significant amount.
We all know how lead paints that were used in houses caused significant issues in young children. Although lead paints are not used anymore but lead is still present in our environment. And the most important thing to remember is that this lead leads to thyroid issues.
There was a research study that was done on 5628 females to look for the association of lead exposure with thyroid issues. The results of this study showed that the presence of lead in the blood of females increased their chances of having autoimmune thyroid disease.
Another study showed that even low exposure to lead can cause issues with the thyroid. In this study, it was seen that chronic exposure to low levels of lead caused thyroid disorder.
So it is important to know if you can be exposed to low levels of lead and whether that is causing issues with your thyroid.
The most common places where we can get exposed to lead are:
1. Old Buildings:
Some of the old buildings still might have lead pipes and that’s where water might be coming from. Some people think using a simple filter will take of this issue, but in reality, only special water filters take care of this problem.
The other issue in old buildings can be old lead paint. I have seen sometimes that nobody took the time to scrap the old lead paint, instead people just keep painting on top of the lead paint. This can still cause exposure to low levels of lead, so its important to remove that lead paint and then get the new paint.
Another exposure to lead in our environment is water.
The tap water and well water might sometimes have low levels of lead. Although there are safety standards in place across the country but still there are several factors that impact the levels of lead in water. The easiest way is to get your water tested whether it is well water or tap water.
So until you check your body lead levels you will not know if that is your issue. In this respect again checking the blood lead level is the most common way.
But again urine test gives us more complete information and often a single urine sample can give us information about all the heavy metals.
What To Do Once You Know You Have Heavy Metals?
Now you know how heavy metals can cause thyroid disorders. So once the testing is done and heavy metals were detected in your system, now the big question is how to get rid of them.
We know even low levels of mercury and lead can be dangerous so we want to do things to stop the exposure to these heavy metals and then finally help our body to get rid of them.
Step 1: Stopping the Exposure to Heavy Metals
1. Mercury exposure through fish:
Fish is such a healthy food, completely stop eating fish is not what we are recommending here. What is required is eating fish which has lower chances of mercury contamination.
For that, the first thing that needs to be done is eating wild-caught fish.
The second thing is limiting the canned fish, especially tuna as that has more chances of contamination with mercury.
Certain fishes like King Markerel, Marlin, Shark, Swordfish, tuna are high in mercury so you should be more cautious with them.
2. Silver Amalgams:
If you do have silver amalgams don’t rush the very next day to your dentist to get them removed. These silver amalgams have to be removed in a safe manner. Only a biologic dentist knows how to remove them safely.
Because if you get them removed without proper safety measures all that mercury goes into your system and gets absorbed in your blood.
So, it is very important to talk with a biologic dentist before you decide to remove the silver amalgams.
There are several cosmetics in the market which have so many toxic chemicals. One of them as I mentioned is mercury, so make sure you look at the ingredients list.
If there is any mention of mercury in any form than that can be potentially harmful to your body. Find cosmetics that are more natural and don’t have harmful chemicals.
4. Water filters:
Water filters are great as they help with removing so many toxic chemicals that might be present in water. But there are so many water filters in the market so make sure you use one which can eliminate lead and other chemicals.
One of the systems called the reverse osmosis system eliminates almost all the chemicals from water. So something that you should consider getting.
5. Old buildings:
If you are living in old buildings and if possible please get rid of all lead from your house whether in piper, fixtures, or on walls as paint.
Step 2: Removing the heavy metals from your body.
Binders are substances that bind to these heavy metals and helps with their excretion from the body. These binders attach to these heavy metals and that way it’s easy for the body to excrete them.
Modified citrus pectin, cholera, zeolite clay, activated charcoal are some of these binders which can be useful.
2. Liver support:
The liver is our master detoxifier and helps us to get rid of heavy metals. We can optimize our liver functioning to make sure it is working properly and can help get rid of heavy metals.
In this respect N- Acetyl cysteine can be very useful and can get rid of toxins. Few other supplements like ALA ( Alpha lipoic acid ) and Milk thistle can support your liver too.
If the above things don’t work then doing chelation is an option. Chelation is done in various ways but can be very hard on your body. Some places will do IV chelation while others will do oral chelation.
Most important aspect is to understand what kind of chelation you go are going through and what are the side effects of it. And most importantly work with a professional who knows how to use chelation in a proper way.
Summing it up, now you know that heavy metals like mercury, lead can cause thyroid problems. So, it is important to aware of that and look out if these toxins might be causing your thyroid issues. Unless you check these heavy metals in your body they will often get missed.
Choose the right test that will help in identifying these heavy metals in your body. And then proper steps need to be taken to get rid of these heavy metals from your body.
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Nie X, Chen Y, Chen Y, et al. Lead and cadmium exposure, higher thyroid antibodies and thyroid dysfunction in Chinese women. Environ Pollut. 2017;230:320-328. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2017.06.052
Dundar B, Oktem F, Arslan MK, et al. The effect of long-term low-dose lead exposure on thyroid function in adolescents. Environ Res. 2006;101(1):140-145. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2005.10.002
Zadjali SA, Nemmar A, Fahim MA, et al. Lead exposure causes thyroid abnormalities in diabetic rats. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(5):7160-7167. Published 2015 May 15.
Rezaei M, Javadmoosavi SY, Mansouri B, Azadi NA, Mehrpour O, Nakhaee S. Thyroid dysfunction: how concentration of toxic and essential elements contribute to risk of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019;26(35):35787-35796. doi:10.1007/s11356-019-06632-7
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