Aluminum (European spelling Aluminium) is harmful to all life forms. It damages all types of tissue. "Aluminum is a protoplasmic poison and a pernicious and persistent neurotoxin". No living systems use aluminium as part of a biochemical process. It has a tendency to accumulate in the brain and to a lesser extent, bones. It is considerably less toxic than mercury, arsenic, lead or cadmium, but it appears to be more persistent than any of them. The danger is one that only manifests itself over long periods of time. It is therefore prudent to avoid consumption. Avoidance is currently the best way of protecting you and your family from the serious, long term damage that can result from ingestion. Pregnant and lactating women, the young and the elderly are at risk. The most effective way of preserving your mental acuity in to your later years appears to be eliminating the sources of aluminum in the diet.
One can take steps to minimise the effects of aluminium in the environment. A sustained, three pronged attack is the most effective response;
The principal symptom of aluminum poisoning is the loss of intellectual function; forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, and in extreme cases, full blown dementia. It is also known to cause bone softening and bone mass loss, kidney and other soft tissue damage, in large doses it can cause cardiac arrest.
Many of those who have gone on to low aluminum diets have reported a reduction in irritability, headaches and significant improvements in memory and ability to concentrate. Parents reported improvements in children suffering from behavioral problems. One series of tests came up with the finding that the majority of children suffering from an attention deficit disorder had much higher than average levels of aluminium in their hair. Experiments have shown that many of those Alzheimer's Disease patients given treatment to remove aluminum from their system experience an immediate reduction in the rate of deterioration. Feeding even relatively small amounts of some aluminum salts to laboratory animals results in brain tissue damage identical to that found in Alzheimer's sufferers (neuro-fibrillary tangles). Recent research using laboratory rats has identified aluminum fluoride as a particularly nasty substance, it readily penetrates the blood-brain barrier. Significant damage was registered when they were given drinking water with only 0.5 parts per million concentration.
The following additives contain aluminium compounds: E173, E520, E521, E523 E541, E545, E554, E555 E556, E559. Antacids quite often contain aluminum trisilicate as does buffered aspirin. Foods containing aluminium based additives include dry cake mixes, pastries and croissants made from frozen dough, processed cheeses, some donuts and waffles, check muffins for E541. The list of substances containing aluminium salts is quite depressing, it even includes toothpaste!, especially tooth whitening products. A worrying development is the hidden aluminum in food coloring, even organic colorings such as Cochineal can have been treated with color enhancers or mordants, usually aluminum.
The use of aluminum in drinking water is starting to be looked at in Canada and Australia, most utilities in Europe and the United States do exceed the recommended level of 100 microgrammes per litre, some by as much as sixty times! Another obvious and easily avoided source is aluminum cooking pots and pans, this can be quite easily remedied by using enamelled, stainless steel and cast iron pots. Cooking in earthenware and glass containers is another option. There is no need to throw out all of your aluminium pots, it is OK to fry food in aluminium pans and intact teflon coatings will effectively prevent any contamination.
Pregnant women also those who are breast feeding their children should avoid all sources as should those on slimming and weight loss diets. Apparently when iron, and calcium, and to a lesser degree magnesium, silicon and zinc levels drop, the uptake of aluminium worsens. Taking mineral supplements seems to be a good idea, particularly for vegetarians, absorption is dramatically reduced by the presence of iron in the body. As it is cumulative, slow acting and extremely persistent, older people are at particularly at risk, the kidneys and blood-brain barrier lose their effectiveness as we age.
Until the water utilities get the level of aluminum down to safer levels it is prudent to use untreated spring or mineral water for drinking and cooking. Few of us are wealthy enough to spend two months in the year at a health spa, however you can help eliminate toxic metals including aluminum simply by drinking sulfur containing spring water such as "San Pellagrino". Beans and garlic are believed counter build-up by their detoxifying sulfur compounds (sulf-hydryls).
Unfortunately in the USA there is quite a strong and vocal effort by interested parties who use extremely well funded and organised lobbying and proxy organisations to present aluminium compounds as harmless minerals, however is is not all gloom and doom as there are now several independent researchers who are doing their own tests to establish the toxic effects of the metal.
Despite the noise and doubts generated by powerful vested interests there is more than enough evidence to justify eliminating it from our diet.
If you follow some of the links at the foot of this article you will find research that shows that aluminum is twice as effective as cadmium in producing the neurfibrillary tangles (sometimes referred to as microtubule damage) that are characteristic of Alzheimer's Disease. There is also a paper that describes tests of a substance, aluminium fluoride which is present in drinking water. Minute quantities, as little as 0.5 parts per million were found to result in the formation of beta amyloid proteins, a characteristic of Alzheimers disease.
Are aerosol sprays harmful ?
Use of aerosol sprays by pregnant mothers is to be discouraged: researchers at the University of Bristol England found a 25 percent increase in headaches among pregnant mothers who used them daily -- over those who use them once a week or less. Babies had 30 percent more ear infections and 22 percent more diarrhoea in homes where aerosol sprays were used-- Dave Edmunds
If you keep pet birds then you should avoid using "Febreeze". Birds are acutely sensitive to zinc. Mammals can tolerate and in fact need zinc as an essential component of their metabolism. Also avoid using antiperspirants, they contain aluminum which is also very toxic to birds. Do not allow them to eat bread unless it is organic, bread can contain up to 40mg/Kg aluminum and this is enough to kill them (especially small birds) in quite a short time. Some muffins, waffles and donuts have even more in the form of aerating agents.
The Blood-Brain Barrier and Dementia:
Some tips and Queries received from readers:-
Subject: Warning on food coloring - Many food colors are being enhanced by the use of aluminum. Cochineal is almost always color enhanced these days. For those trying to avoid aluminium it is extremely difficult to know what is and what is not contaminated. The color source is very small in quantity but is likely to have high bioavailability. Candies that are vividly colors should be a definite negative!! Tim Gore email@example.com
Subject: Aluminum. Understand that fluoride will allow aluminum to pass through the blood brain barrier. Read up on the dangers of fluoride, the fact that it actually causes tooth enamel to become brittle causing fissures in tooth enamel that leads to cavities. No wonder dentists promote it. Beyond that it is the base of most antidepressants. It is a rat poison, and the source these days for industry fluoride is the scrapings of fertilizer incinerator stacks. Avoid it. I found a toothpaste Spearmint flavor of Toms' of Maine brand. Check the label. Most of the Tom's does contain fluoride. Avoiding fluoride will help keep aluminum out of the brain. I use a salt crystal for deodorant, to avoid aluminum. Also vaccines contain mercury as well as aluminum. -- Harold, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Maltol and aluminum. Thanks for your article on Aluminum, very helpful. It is not only fluoride which will carry aluminium into the brain. Citric acid can increase the amount deposited by over 100 homes, so too can the additive Maltol, a sweetener present in drinking chocolate and some beers. Experiments carried out on rabbits show that it can increase the aluminum absorbed in the brain by over 90 times. -- Richard Dabrowski email@example.com
Subject: Aluminium and Alzheimers From Russell Hall and class We are very interested in finding out the link between aluminium and Alzheimers and the effects of aluminium on the human body and would be very happy if you could shed some light on this subject for us Thank you Chanel College Chemistry New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org
Aluminum as a color brightener is widely used food colors, the aluminium is thought to be in an insoluble form, however the food manufacturers do not advertise the fact that a neurotoxic metal is present in sweets such as M&Ns. Very young children lack some of the protection mechanisms that are present in older children and adults. - Victor Purtill email@example.com
In your health tips page you suggest that people avoid aluminum, how do I know what foods contains it?. What I have read about it makes me worry that my children are building up the metal in their brains and that they will have problems in later life. firstname.lastname@example.org
To Essie2000: It is unlikely that you will completely avoid aluminum in food. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earths crust. The question you should be asking is how any aluminum can enter your brain and what you can do to avoid it. -- "J. B. Rivera" email@example.com Aug 00
To Essie2000: Water: By using the right bottled water one can eliminate the oral route, what about the water absorbed during a bath? My colleague suggests using a tea bag in your bathwater. -- Jake Thornton Imperial College London
Subject: Aluminum in Antiperspirants Harmful? I've seen much about aluminum being ingested and it's potential for harm. What about deodorant/antiperspirants with aluminum? -- Carolyn B King firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Aluminium poisoning in fruit juices I am a high school student in south Africa. I am doing an investigation as to whether fruit juices packaged in drinking boxes with aluminium lining are being contaminated with aluminium. Do you know anything about this subject? Could the juice be contaminated? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Angie, -- Angie Jacobs email@example.com
Subject: Aluminium Poisoning Hi, I've heard from my colleague that sterilising baby products by boiling is not too good as the utensils most likely contain aluminium. Is it true? Thanks for your advice. Regards, Concerned mother Singapore. Tong firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject; Aluminum allergy? It is a long story how I discovered that I am allergic to aluminum, so I won't go into that.
I have had migraines for 28 years and since being chelated for heavy metal toxicity (lead, copper and aluminum) and avoiding aluminum I have had a 95% reduction in headaches. Aluminum is used as a coating for "buffered " pain relievers among MANY other things. If you are taking coated ibuprofen this may be the problem. Aluminum is also in baking powder, baking soda, (health food stores have alum free) , dark teas, cake mixes, frozen dough, non-dairy creamers, flouride toothpaste, anti-diarheal drugs, and very high in processed cheese of any kind.
If you would like more info, email me. The list I have compiled contains over 40 household items that contain aluminum. -- Nancy Paul_Bastow@nspnospammindlink.bc.ca
"According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world's leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times (nearly 850 papers in peer review journals), if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no shots. I asked Dr. Fudenberg why this was so and he said it was due to the mercury and aluminum that is in every flu shot (and most childhood shots). The gradual mercury and aluminum buildup in the brain causes cognitive dysfunction. Is that why Alzheimer's is expected to quadruple? "