How Metals in Food Affect Your Child’s Behavior

According to a lead researcher in the field, the contamination of food with certain metals needs to be urgently addressed in light of growing evidence linking trace metals to behavioral problems.

It has long been known that excessive amounts of any metal could be potentially dangerous, but there is now also strong evidence that even tiny amounts of some metals can contribute to aggressive or antisocial behavior, says Neil Ward, a professor of chemistry at the UK’s University of Surrey.

Lead has been linked to antisocial behavior, partly because it contributes to nutrient depletion. Aluminum has also been linked to antisocial behavior, as it competes for the binding sites of biochemical receptors of other metal ions, such as iron and zinc.

Dr. Mercola’s Comments

Heavy metals are a scourge of modern living and very difficult to avoid as these toxic contaminants have become an integral part of our industrialized culture. Metals like aluminum, cadmium, lead and mercury are commonly found in thousands of different food products, household products, personal products and untold numbers of industrial products and chemicals.

The really bad news is that soon after you’re exposed to them, the heavy metals are rapidly removed from blood circulation and stored in vital tissues where they disrupt your biological systems and can wreak absolute havoc on your health.

The presence of toxic metals in your body is highly significant for they are capable of causing serious health problems by interfering with your body’s normal biological functioning.

The health effects range from minor physical ailments to chronic diseases, and as discussed in the article above, your mood and behavior.

How Heavy Metals Affects Behaviour

You’re exposed to heavy metals in varying amounts from a staggering number of sources as you move about in your day to day life. This  earlier article contains an impressive list of sources of various heavy metal contaminations, and their associated health effects.It has long been known that being exposed to excessive amounts of any metal can be dangerous, but now there is also strong evidence that even small traces of certain contaminants can lead to aggressive and anti-social behaviour.

According to Neil Ward, professor of chemistry at the UK’s University of Surrey, many of the mechanisms are still unknown, but it’s clear that eliminating heavy metals produces positive improvements in people with mood disorders who have high levels of contaminations in their system.

Now, some metals act as nutrients in small amounts, and are essential for good health, such as:

  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Zinc

Other metals, however, including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, do not belong in your body. Not only can they be highly toxic on their own, but they can also hinder absorption of other essential nutrients in your body, which is particularly problematic in children since it can seriously affect their development.

Lead, for example, acts as an anti-nutrient and has been linked to delinquency and lowered IQ in children, partly because it depletes other vital nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1.

Several studies show a clear link between lead and an increased risk of mental disturbances and altered behaviour.

For example, one 1996 study that looked at lead levels and delinquency found that lead exposure is associated with an increased risk of antisocial and delinquent behaviour, and that the effect increases with age. This was corroborated again in another study that found adjudicated delinquents were four times more likely to have elevated lead concentrations in their bones.

Another 1990 meta-analysis found that even low level lead exposure impairs children’s IQ, which could affect their behavior.

According to the 2005 updated guidelines from the CDC, children’s blood lead levels should be no higher than 6 µg/dl to avoid subtle neurological symptoms.  Symptoms usually become evident above 10 µg/dl, and blood lead levels of 380 ug/dL can cause convulsions, coma, and even death.  

For more information about the warning signs of lead poisoning, and your most common sources of lead, please see my previous article, How Do You Know if You Have Lead Poisoning?

Unfortunately, studies have shown that fluoridated water supplies can increase children’s absorption of lead, and, when lead is introduced into your body in sufficient quantities it displaces zinc, which also disrupts brain cell growth. Therefore, installing a high quality water filter in your home is always a prudent idea, especially if you have children.

Low vitamin D and C intake can also adversely affect lead levels, causing more lead to accumulate.

Aluminum is another highly toxic metal that has been linked not only to behavioral problems, but also to brain disorders from learning disabilities, to dementia and Alzheimer’s as aluminum tends to travel to your brain and accumulate there.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.