Should You Worry About Heavy Metal Exposure in Your Kids? A Dietitian Weighs in on "Detoxing" (Exclusive)

Eva Hagan - Author

Jan. 22 2024, Updated 9:56 a.m. ET

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Heavy metals are all around us: in our food, environment, workplaces, and even homes. Although only some people are exposed to enough heavy metals over a long period of time to worry about heavy metal poisoning, it’s helpful to understand what heavy metals are, and how they could cause potential harm, especially when it comes to children.

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We talked exclusively with registered dietitian-nutritionist Lena Bakovic, MS, RDN, CNSC, about when heavy metals are a concern, and when a heavy metal detox is ever necessary for kids.

Please note that this article should not be taken as medical advice, and you should always consult your healthcare provider for personalized medical guidance.

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What is a heavy metal detox for kids? Is it necessary?

A heavy metal detox for kids involves using natural methods to remove metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum, and cadmium from their bodies, per Easy Detox. These metals are naturally occurring, but can become unsafe for people when exposed to high concentrations. This can lead to heavy metal poisoning, which can cause digestive and behavioral issues, fatigue, sleep problems, and headaches, Easy Detox notes.

According to Ecowiser, knowing where heavy metals come from is important for preventing exposure. Cadmium is often found in cigarettes and batteries. Arsenic can be found in drinking water, while mercury can be detected in fish and tooth fillings. Lead is found in many water pipes and old paint. Exposure can happen through food, skin absorption, and even inhalation.

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However, experts say that heavy metal detoxes are often unnecessary. Lena Bakovic, who works with Top Nutrition Coaching, tells Green Matters exclusively: “I would say that overall, the answer here is that there should rarely be a need for a detox from heavy metals for both children and adults.”

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Bakovic recommends speaking to a physician before buying a test kit or performing a detox. The registered dietitian-nutritionist also notes that people who are the most at risk are those workplaces with high levels of exposure, not children.

Bakovic tells Green Matters exclusively:

“Toxicity happens when we are exposed to high levels of heavy metals over an extended period of time. An example of this would be living in a household with lead paint or drinking lead-containing water for a prolonged period of time. The FDA has assessed the lead content of baby cereals and certain fruit juices, but the consensus from child nutrition experts is that these potential food-related lead exposures are minimal, if that.”

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How can kids detox from heavy metals?

Still, if heavy metal exposure seems to be a problem for you and your family, there are some detox methods.

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According to Bakovic, it’s best practice to try to avoid heavy metal exposure altogether if you are worried, but remember it’s not possible to avoid exposure completely. She tells Green Matters that avoiding eating fish high in mercury content would help lower exposure.

"Another example would be arsenic exposure associated with tobacco smoke — kids residing in households where there are smokers may have higher arsenic exposure levels," she says.

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Besides this, there are some safe detox methods you can try. According to Westchase Chiropractic and Wellness, you can give your kid a detox bath full of Epsom salts that could help flush out toxins because of their magnesium content.

The company also notes that making sure your child is eating a balanced diet that is full of vitamins and nutrients can help them grow healthily.

But again, if you are worried that your child was exposed to excess heavy metals, take them to see a doctor as soon as possible.

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