Natural Chelation: Food Based Interventions & Why I Don’t Use Supplements (Can you remove lead from the body?)

Below is an e-mail I sent to a family
that I recently had a home visit with.
February 6, 2019
 
When we met you asked about ways to get the lead out of blood (and out of the body) if kiddos test positive.
 
In my documentary film’s interview with Dr. Bruce Lanphear he states that 90% of the Lead that your body has ever been exposed to is still in your body (absorbed by your soft tissue and your bones and recirculated [and then reabsorbed] with injury or other major physical events – like pregnancy.)
 
That said, based on the personal research I have done (and my interest in removing as much lead as possible from my children’s bodies], I chose to do whole food based chelation for my sons. What this means is focusing on dietary changes that emphasize foods (or whole food-based supplements) that have been scientifically proven to eliminate lead from the body.
 
Natural chelation is controversial (at best) but given it is a non-medical intervention and can include simple things like increasing the amount of garlic you add to the diet, I don’t personally believe there is the potential for food-based interventions to be harmful. 
 
While I am not a doctor (I think I have to say that!) I have written a few posts about this on my blog based on my personal experience with my children and the research I have done in an effort to help my own family. Please take a look at the following links to start and share them with your wife if you think they might be helpful:
  1. https://tamararubin.com/2017/01/natural-chelation/
  2. https://tamararubin.com/detox/
My main concern about doing anything beyond food-based interventions is that a lot of supplements actually contain unsafe levels of Lead. Supplements that I have learned contain unsafe levels of lead (but that are sold with accompanying marketing materials and testimonies stating they help the body to eliminate lead) include modified citrus pectin, bentonite clay, and any (and possibly all) calcium supplements. The article linked here provides some context as it talks about one supplement that people often take because they have been told it eliminates lead, when in fact it has the potential to poison the user: https://tamararubin.com/2017/12/very-well-written-article-surprising-danger-of-bentonite-clay/
 
For some background:
Food and beverages are considered toxic when they have measurable lead in the parts per billion range (between 1 and 100 ppb for most foods or beverages), you can read more about that at the following links on my blog:
 
Most supplement manufacturers only test their products down to low thresholds in the single digit parts per million (ppm) levels — whereas, in my opinion, based on current food-based standards — toxicity for any products or substances intended for direct human ingestion should always be measured and expressed in parts per billion. Unfortunately almost every supplement info sheet I have seen has said something along the lines of …. their product is “negative for Lead, to levels below ‘5 ppm'” (or “1 ppm”, etc..)
 
The thing is, this level of specificity (or lack of specificity) could still mean their product is positive for 4 ppm Lead, which is 4,000 ppb (parts per billion) Lead — and definitely not considered to be a safe level of Lead for daily human consumption (if this level of Lead were found in food, for instance.)
 
The reason supplements often have unsafe levels of Lead is two-fold:
 
1) If they are made of a substance that purports to “naturally bind” to lead (to help eliminate it from the body) then it is likely they have also concentrated lead in their source form. For example calcium: Lead bio-mimics calcium. Many doctors prescribe calcium supplements to people who have tested positive for Lead. The claim is that “if there is sufficient calcium in the body then the body will not absorb the lead in the place of calcium”. However, because Lead bio-mimics calcium, the natural sources of calcium that are often used for supplements (bone calcium, coral calcium or even plant-based calcium) might also be high in Lead themselves, and concentrating those sources to make a supplement may concentrate the Lead in those sources as well as the calcium, causing a lead-exposure risk from the supplement itself.
 
2) Supplements are highly processed. This means they are most often made on machines with moving parts. Machines with moving parts almost always have high-Lead brass components that wear. When these high-Lead brass components wear, the “trace levels” of Lead that wear off of the machinery often end up in the product they are processing – the supplements. [This is true of nearly all highly processed foods – including protein powder drinks, chocolate, packaged juices and other similar highly processed foods that purport to confer various health benefits!]
 
Across the board I have not found any supplements (beyond NDF by BioRay, which is a food-based liquid supplement made from cilantro and chlorella) that are guaranteed to be truly Lead-free (as tested and confirmed by independent third-party labs.) As a result, I suggest that parents always ask for the “white paper” from the manufacturer for any supplements that they intend to give their children. Specifically, when requesting this information ask for any toxicity testing that has been done (for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Arsenic and other metals) — and both the “low threshold of detection”, and the “margin of error” for the testing that was done.
 
Some supplement manufacturers will readily provide that information; others might claim it is “proprietary”. What you are specifically looking for is independent third-party testing of supplements to help confirm they have the lowest possible levels of Lead (before choosing to give them to your children or before choosing to take them if you are a pregnant adult.)
 
Because supplement manufacturers are not manufacturing products that are tested to levels that are considered “food-safe” for Lead, I generally limit any supplements I give to my children (specifically I don’t give them any supplements — unless they are sick, and there is supplement that a trusted healthcare provider specifically recommends for helping them with their healing process, where the potential benefit outweighs any potential risk.)
 
When we met, I mentioned that the parent-run “The Lead (Pb) Group” on Facebook has several parents who have taken it upon themselves to do extensive research on specific supplements before deciding to use them for their children. These parents have posted a lot of the results of their research in the group. I encourage you to join the group to check out that information and to connect with other parents on this concern (as my approach – not giving supplements to my children because these products are not sufficiently tested for Lead, and not proven to be Lead-free –  may seem a bit “extreme” to some). In this way you can collect information on products of interest and read the conclusions of a larger set of folks who are wrestling with these same questions, evaluating their various findings, choices and recommendations for yourself. Here’s the link to that group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LeadSafe/
 
As always, please let me know if you have any questions about this. (I’m also going to share this e-mail on my blog! 😉 #ThingsIHaveBeenMeaningToWriteForAWhile
 
Tamara E. Rubin
#LeadSafeMama
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