If you were to make a list of the most abundant elements in the entire world, aluminum would be number three on that list, directly behind silicon and oxygen. Biological life tends to make efficient use out of elements that are plentiful, as well as providing storage for necessary elements that are not so abundant. Then what biological role does aluminum play in the great system of life?



aluminumNone. Aluminum, and its compounds, as far as anyone can tell, serves no purpose in any form of life known to man. Despite the fact that it can be found in the tissues of most living organisms, it serves no purpose and performs no function. What is fascinatingly ironic about this is that man has found a use for aluminum, its alloys, compounds and derivatives, in nearly every facet of modern life. Planes, trains, and automobiles, to computers, cooking, and construction, creative individuals have found ways to use aluminum wherever there is a need.



Aluminum is also used to refine petroleum, and to produce synthetic petroleum based products like rubber and plastic polymers. It is also used in fireproofing, tanning hides, as an ingredient in dry chemical fire extinguishers, as well as water purification. It is also found in a wide range of consumables including cosmetics, medications (over the counter), toothpaste, anti-perspirants, as well as in most baked goods, either by processing or through the use of baking powder, which typically contains aluminum from the corn starch.



When one realizes that we are literally eating, drinking, and breathing aluminum on an almost constant basis, the question develops: What effect does this have on the human body? We know that it has no biological role, but is it harmful?



Strangely, it depends on who you ask. If you were to ask the Food and Drug Administration, they would tell you that aluminum is GRAS, which stands for Generally Recognized As Safe, which means that there are no restrictions placed on the amount of aluminum that may be used in consumer goods. Though the FDA has not done any of their own research, they rely upon studies that have been conducted by various institutions that claim that aluminum, in its various forms, is not easily absorbed by the body, and that what is absorbed is easily captured and excreted by healthy kidneys, and that even if the kidneys were to not excrete all of the absorbed aluminum, it is harmlessly deposited into bone tissue where it has no medical effects. This may seem like a biased interpretation... It absolutely is.



One only has to look as far as Wikipedia to be able to recognize that conflicting information is abundant on the subject of aluminum toxicity. Wikipedia, while it may have many great articles and possess a wealth of information, its fundamental weakness is that on subjects in which there may be controversy, consensus prevails, sometimes over fact or logic. Aluminum toxicity has fallen into exactly this crevasse.



The consensus is that there is no proof that aluminum plays a causal role in certain medical conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, or infant growth retardation. While there are very few people wouldn’t agree that aluminum, even in trace amounts, can be a neurotoxin, many of them claim that the toxicity is minimal. A neurotoxin is a substance that cause damage to the cells and components of the central nervous system, including the brain.



A study was conducted in France whose primary goal was to determine the most significant factors related to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly. This study was known internationally as the PAQUID cohort study. It followed individuals aged 65 and older for 1, 3, 5, and 15 years. It included 3,777 individuals from 91 different regions of France in order to analyze the effects that environment, society, heritage and other external components affected the elderly. The results of this study have been used as the basis for medical analysis of the elderly patients in hundreds of assessments. Its findings have had a truly global impact.



alzheimers
One of the most significant findings that it put forward was the strong relationship between the concentration of aluminum in the water supply and the rate and severity of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A group of researchers in Bordeaux analyzed both the geographical aluminum exposure and the daily aluminum intake and found that the greater the daily intake of aluminum, the greater the rate of cognitive decline. While some will claim that this alone is not evidence that aluminum has a causal relationship, consider some of the other information that has been concluded about the effects of aluminum on the brain.

 

A study by Vasishta R.K and Gill K.D. performed a study on rats to determine the distribution of aluminum throughout the brain and body tissues. They found that aluminum accumulated in all regions of the brain, with the greatest concentration in the hippocampus. For those of you unfamiliar with the regions of the brain, the hippocampus is where the transition of new memories into long-term memories occurs. People who have suffered significant damage to their hippocampus are unable to form and retain new memories. I might be crazy, but isn’t that Alzheimer’s disease?



The consensus of modern medical research is that the cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown and that there are simply a number of factors that create greater risk for certain individuals to eventually become afflicted. There are some who believe that there are several causes of Alzheimer’s and that it is simply a manifestation of various stages of toxicity or nutritional deficiency. A radical thought, I know, that being poisoned or starved of essential nutrients might cause problems!



While it may not be consensus, the evidence of the toxicity of aluminum is undeniable. Yet, some of the most respected authorities may speak differently. According to the Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, which is considered a standard reference for almost every industrial component in existence, their position on aluminum is that its compounds are of “very low toxicity” and to reinforce that point they state that the LD50 of aluminum is 6 g/kg of body weight. LD50 means lethal dose for 50% of the population. While it sounds very technical and accurate, it is actually the opposite. If someone said, "the LD50 of XXXX is 10 grams per kilogram of body weight", which means that if someone
fed that much XXXX to 10 people half of them would die… approximately. It doesn’t mean that is how much it takes to kill someone, in fact much less could be lethal to just one person. 1 gram could be lethal to one person, and while that may be better than 5 people dying, I am positive you wouldn’t want to be that one person. Another thing to consider is that LD50 only refers to acute toxicity. This means that the dose would kill you rapidly, within hours or days. It doesn’t make any calculations about what sort of medical problems you could develop from prolonged exposure over the course of days, months, or years.



Typically, when scientists do admit that aluminum is toxic, they use a qualifier that it is only harmful to people with impaired blood brain barriers, or who have impaired kidney function, which is interesting because there are several studies that suggest that aluminum, namely from antacids containing aluminum hydroxide, may actually cause renal damage.



Aluminum, when it is absorbed by the body competes with calcium, because it uses the same pathways, which is why it winds up in bone tissue. For some individuals, this can cause bone weakness, especially in children and infants who need abundant quantities of calcium for healthy skeletal development.

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Some of the more common signs of aluminum toxicity are abnormal heart rhythm, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, headaches. There are also some individuals who are allergic to aluminum and need to significantly modify their diets and environments to avoid exposure, which in our current society is extremely difficult.



Some of the ways that you can reduce your aluminum intake is to avoid aluminum in what you eat, drink, and wear. Stay away from aluminum foil for obvious reasons. Also stay away from plastic containers, even water bottles. Unless the plastic is food grade or #1, it will leach aluminum into the water or food, especially in very cold or very hot temperatures. Avoid baked goods, unless made without the use of dairy products, or made with aluminum-free baking soda or baking powder (also, don’t get baking soda/powder in a plastic container, it has aluminum!). Most antiperspirants use an aluminum compound as the active ingredient, so try to use a deodorant that is aluminum-free.



Do not drink unfiltered water because of not just the aluminum, but the other traces of heavy metals and toxins used in the “purification” process.



Also, even though it may be difficult to find this information, try to make sure that your laundry detergent and fabric softeners do not contain aluminum compounds, or other toxic substances like chlorines.



If you are concerned that you may already have had significant exposure to aluminum, or your exposure is either too high or unavoidable, there are some solutions. One method is to help your body get rid of more of the aluminum by giving it nutrient that will bind to it and aid the excretion process. Cilantro and chlorella, especially when taken simultaneously, are very effective at removing heavy metals from the body. While aluminum, is not technically a heavy metal, it is still targeted by chlorella and cilantro.



Glutathione is an extremely powerful antioxidant, but that’s not all. It also helps mobilize many of the other enzymes and nutrients that the body uses to process and remove toxins from the body and this can have a significant effect at reducing the effects of aluminum stress on the body. Also N-Acetyl Cysteine and other sulfur-based amino acids have a neuro-protective effect against aluminum induced cognitive degeneration. 

no aluminum



The sources of aluminum in our society are too many to list here, but if you avoid even just the few mentioned here, you will be miles ahead of the average person who is unknowingly being assaulted on a constant basis by aluminum compounds. While there are a number of organizations that are trying to get the regulatory agencies to establish safeguards and restriction on aluminum, we aren’t at that point yet and until then, the only thing we can do is to protect ourselves and spread the word.