Aluminium: in deodrant and even formula: fuss about nothing? What you need to know...
We take a look at the fuss about Aluminium. Why people have been concerned, if the science suggests there is an issue and most crucially some easy things you can do to reduce the risks for you/your child:
You are probably sick of hearing about all the toxicity in our modern world. I know I certainly am. However, as with most things, it’s not the small exposures that matter but rather it’s when we get too much that it can become a problem. Particularly important when we are talking about the delicate time from conception, pregnancy to early years of rapid development.
This is when awareness can be such a powerful thing: if you know where it is coming from then even small changes can be positive to reduce your exposure and risk. Not too difficult when you know where to look!
So what is the real story? How much and when should we be concerned?
As usual. We turn to the science:
A few years back there was a lot of concern around Aluminum in antiperspirants and even in infant formula. The reality is however that aluminium is everywhere in our environment and is on the rise.
It is used in everything from engineering to food processing and is even in drinking water treatment. It is found in pharmaceutical preparations, cosmetics and hygiene products, as well as household implements such as cooking utensils. It is also used is used as a food additive, in beverage cans, antacids, and antiperspirants. It has even been found in baby formula.
Pretty much everywhere then!
The trouble comes when the amount we are exposed to is greater than what our body can excrete.
So, when it comes to the delicate period of conception, pregnancy and through to the early rapid years of development it is sensible to limit where we can and make sure our body’s elimination pathways are working as good as they can and this is why:
When it comes to conception: most of the research on its effects have been conducted in animals. However, what is relatively clear is that in excess it leads to increased oxidative stress (click here for more) which can impact hormones and in particular can lead to reduced semen quality and sperm count. (6-8)
So boys, if you’re looking to keep your swimmers in top shape, it’s worth avoiding too much exposure where you can.
It is also relatively well appreciated by now that in excess it is a developmental neurotoxin and has been linked to a wide range of issues in children such as declining performance in attention, memory, and learning including autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and tics. (11-13)
Ok, so clearly worth avoiding too much of, but how is the best way to reduce that and protect the body (without going mad!) from its effects particularly as it is so prolific?
Firstly, the good news is that the placenta affords some protection (9) but research suggests that it is not total protection and the developing baby is vulnerable, so how do you actually avoid it?
Here are a couple of easy things you can do:
Avoid using Aluminium pans for cooking.
Filter your drinking water
Consume Chlorella: this type of algae (which is a food not supplement) has been shown to powerfully bind to heavy metals. As it is a food it is safe to eat before and during pregnancy and breastfeeding: Click here for much more.
Ensuring your body’s ‘excrement’ is running smoothly. That can be done by sweating from regular exercise or sauna (do not do if you are pregnant), staying well hydrated and keeping your gut healthy with lots of fibre and pre and probiotic whole foods - click here for more.
Root vegetables: yes really (!) a study looking at in utero exposure to Aluminum found that mothers who consumed root vegetables frequently appeared to be protected from aluminum retention and increased body burden (16)
Avoid cosmetics and products like certain antiperspirants that contain Aluminium - just check the label there are now lots that do not contain it - click here for some of our favourites.
What about for a very young child?
During the first 6 months of life it has been reported that babies can be exposed through: (14)
One important point (although we have zero interest in getting into the very well trodden path of debate over vaccines) although it has been claimed that vaccinations containing aluminum salts are associated with adverse effects in children, a systematic review with meta-analysis has shown that there is no evidence that aluminum salts in vaccines cause any serious or long-lasting adverse events. (15)
As always, it is rarely one thing in isolation that causes a problem, more the combination. So, how can you protect your child?
Boosting your child’s own detoxification system, specifically the mother of all antioxidants: Glutathione, something that some research has shown to be reduced in children who have autism for example. (17) Click here for more as to how you can do this.
Supplementing your child with probiotics as these can help alleviate heavy metal toxicity. Research indicates that Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L. plantarum, commonly found in probiotic supplements and fermented foods, protect against heavy metal toxicity. (18,19) - nb. Always speak to your doctor before trying any supplement with your child.
Getting enough food rich in Zinc as it competes with heavy metals for binding sites on cells and enzymes. Research indicates that zinc replenishment is beneficial for children with autism and ADHD for example (21). Best food sources: meat, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs and whole grain.
Food rich in Iron as it competes with heavy metals for intestinal absorption. Adequate iron levels reduces transporters that brings heavy metals into intestinal cells and the body’s system as a whole. In fact, restoration of iron levels has been found to relieve ADHD symptoms in children. (22). Food rich in iron: beans and lentils, Chlorella and Spirulina (Click here for more), cashews, dark leafy green vegetables and of course meat.
Vitamin B: especially vitamin B6 supplementation reduces the accumulation of lead in body tissues. When combined with magnesium, it has been found to improve symptoms of ADHD. (23). Foods rich in B6 include: pork, poultry, fish, whole grains, eggs and once again algae.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.