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This Toxic Metal is Damaging Your Bones

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Your environment and the materials you consume play a large role in the health of your bones. Find out how cadmium could be slowly destroying your bones below.

Your bones are affected by a variety of factors. It is not just calcium and vitamin D that have an impact on your bones. Recent studies have shown that exposure to environmental toxins, specifically the heavy metal cadmium, can have a negative effect on your bones- leading to an increased risk for fractures and a reduction in bone density. This dangerous metal is present in many products manufactured around the world and is nearly impossible to escape in everyday life. Find out more about the dangers of this metal for bones below.

What is Cadmium?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Cadmium (abbreviated as Cd) is a soft, blue-white metal found in zinc ores. The United States produces about 600 metric tons of cadmium each year. The metal was first discovered in Germany in 1817 and has been used for a variety of uses, including the manufacturing of pigments, in nickel-cadmium, rechargeable batteries, solar cells, metal coatings, plastic stabilizers, and corrosion protection for iron and steel.

By far, the biggest uses of the metal today are in the production of batteries and solar panels. The trouble with the metal is that it is highly toxic. In fact, exposure to the metal can cause a variety of problems, including cancer, heart trouble, kidney failure, reproductive trouble, breathing problems, stomach problems, and even bone problems. Find out more about how this dangerous metal could be hurting your bones below.

The Dangers of Cadmium

Cadmium is a potentially toxic metal, with many of the same risks as other metals. Metals like aluminum, iron, copper, and silver can all harm the body if a person is exposed to high levels of the metal. Ordinarily, a person would have a low exposure risk to cadmium, because it is a metal only found in zinc and in trace amounts.

However, manufacturers have found a way to produce larger quantities of the metal, which can pose health risks to many people around the world. The biggest danger for humans is in the processing of the meal. If the metal is leached into water, soil, or into the air, it can cause serious health risks for humans and animals.

How Does Cadmium Hurt Bones?

Although bone density loss is not the first side effect that most people think about when considering the dangers of cadmium poisoning, the risks are shocking. Two studies from China and the United States uncovered the link between bone health and cadmium exposure.

In 2004, researchers from Fudan University in China looked at the dangers of cadmium in the body. The researchers wanted to find out if cadmium could harm bone health. The researchers asked over 700 residents in a small Japanese town near a large cadmium smelter to fill out a survey about their bone health.

Additionally, the researchers used a SPA-4 single-photon absorptiometry test to measure the density of each participant’s bones. The researchers found that all participants had lower bone density in the arms (the area that was tested). The overall bone density of each person was significantly lower than the level suggested by the World Health Organization as normal for healthy young adults.

The researchers also found that the risk for developing osteoporosis in women jumped from about 30 percent in the control group, to over 50 percent in the cadmium exposure group. Both men and women were also more likely to develop fractures at any age.

In 2007, researchers from the Albertson College of Idaho in the United States looked at cadmium exposure and the risk for developing bone diseases. In the study, researchers conducted bone density experiments with cadmium and synthetic bone cells in a lab setting. The bones were exposed to cadmium and then evaluated for bone density. The researchers found that then apoptosis cycle (when cells die to make room for new cells) was induced prematurely when the cells were exposed to cadmium. Basically, this means that more cells die than live, leading to weak bones and the increased chance of having a bone disease.

Both of these studies show that cadmium exposure is highly detrimental to the health of your bones. It is important to avoid the metal wherever possible. Find out the most common sources of the metal listed below.

Are You At-Risk for Cadmium Poisoning?

According to studies, cadmium is present throughout most of the world. The earth’s crust has a small layer of cadmium, which means that many environmental sources already contain trace amounts of the metal. A small amount of cadmium will not harm the body. According to OSHA and the FDA, safe levels of cadmium in the water are about 0.005 mg/L and in the air are about 5 µg/m3 (over an 8-hour period).

However, issues can quickly arise due to extended exposure to the metal. The body cannot process cadmium, which means that over time, your body can accumulate unsafe levels of the metal. Common contamination sources are listed below:


Much of the air we breathe is cadmium-free. However, areas around factories that manufacture products with cadmium (including nickel, zinc processing, pigments, water-resistant metals, and some plastics) are likely to have much higher levels of the metal in the air. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) estimates that up to 50 percent of the cadmium in your body comes from the air.


Zinc-processing factories and other factories that use the metal are more likely to leach the metal into the nearby soil. Factories near water sources may also leach the metal into the surrounding soil. There are a variety of websites online where you can search for your proximity to factories that use dangerous toxins.


Rechargeable batteries (other than lithium-ion) contain high levels of cadmium. You can protect against exposure by using a different kind of battery, disposing of used batteries properly, and preventing your children from playing with batteries.


Many pigments use cadmium to brighten the colors. Reds and yellows are more likely to contain cadmium. In some cases, the cadmium level in pigments is too high, as with a recent batch of Shrek-themed glasses sold at McDonald’s. Always check toys and products for toxic ingredients before giving them to children who might put the toys into their mouths.


Food produced near factories that produce cadmium is more likely to have unsafe levels of the metal. Additionally, root vegetables and lettuces are more likely to contain the metal. Seafood products can also contain high levels of the toxic metal. Water: Water can be a significant source of the metal. According to the FDA, about 0.005 mg/L is considered safe. Levels higher than that could lead to bone density loss.

Occupational Exposure

If you work in a factory that uses cadmium, your risk for exposure will be the highest. You can reduce your risk by wearing breathing equipment, washing your hands frequently, and following all safety guidelines.


One of the many toxic ingredients in cigarettes is cadmium. Smoking could contribute to bone density loss by the high level of cadmium in the cigarettes.

Metal Coatings

Some anti-rust coatings on metal products are created with cadmium. Ordinarily, this should not be a problem. However, when used in a product like kitchen tools or toys, it could create too-high levels of cadmium in the body.

How to Counteract Cadmium Exposure

Although there isn’t much you can do to reduce your cadmium risk (aside from moving if you live in a contaminated area or finding a job that doesn’t work with cadmium), there are several steps you can take to counteract cadmium exposure.

According to a study from 2000 conducted by the University of California, individuals with a poor nutritional diet are more likely to be at-risk for health dangers from toxic metals and other environmental pollutions. Researchers theorize that when the body does not get the nutrition that it needs, it will substitute with toxins.

If you do not have enough calcium, the body your body absorbs more lead. A lack of zinc leads to excess levels of cadmium. A lack of magnesium leads to high aluminum levels. Manganese is replaced by nickel. Additionally, certain nutrients make it possible to remove excess toxins from the body. If you eat a healthy diet, you can cut down on your cadmium toxicity significantly.

Foods That Remove Cadmium 
  • Natural, unprocessed, and organic fruits and vegetables
  • Local, seasonal foods
  • Unpasteurized dairy
  • Fermented foods
  • Healthy fats like omega-3s, medium-chain fatty acids, monounsaturated fats

Reduce Your Cadmium Exposure
  • Use cast iron, glass, or enamel cookware.
  • Avoid eating out since most professional kitchens use stainless steel and non-stick cooking pans.
  • Avoid stainless steel orthodontic treatments.
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.

Gentle Cadmium Detox

Use the following four ingredients as gentle metal detoxers in your body:

Weedy greens: Weedy greens like cilantro, parsley, alfalfa, and chlorella are not only flavor-enhancers but can also help remove heavy metals from the body.

Wheatgrass: This simple remedy will pull toxic metals from your body.

Fruit pectin: Fruit pectin (formulas that do not contain MSG) is effective at removing toxic metals from the body. Eat yours from plenty of raw fruits and add pectin powder to drinks and smoothies.

Strengthen Your Bones

Because your exposure to cadmium and other bone-stealing metals and toxins has likely already damaged your bones, leading to an increased risk for fractures, osteoporosis, and other bone diseases, simply changing your diet is probably not enough to strengthen your bones. However, if you take steps now, you can improve the health of your bones and counteract any risks of losing your bone density.

In general, there are two things you can do to heal your bones quickly- exercise and supplement for bone health.


According to the National Institute of Health, exercise is one of the best ways you can protect your bones. Exercise builds bone density and prevents the deterioration of bone mass. The best kind of exercise for bone health is load-bearing exercises, including weight training, walking, stair-climbing, running, and body-weight workouts.

Supplements that Heal Bones

If your bones are already weak, from cadmium exposure or simple lack of nutrition throughout the years, there are a variety of supplements you can take that will help boost the health of your bones. Add the following bone-boosting supplements to your diet to ensure your bones remain healthy and strong in spite of cadmium exposure:

Bone Meal: What could be healthier for your bones than existing bones? Bone meal contains all of the bone-building nutrients from one source. Bone meal contains phosphorous, calcium, and other minerals from animal bones.

Calcium: Everyone knows that calcium is essential for bone health. However, a lot of people are still deficient in this mineral. A calcium supplement can ensure you receive the right amount each day.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium properly so you can use it to build strong bones. Most people should supplement with vitamin D since most people’s environmental exposure to vitamin D is low.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is a hidden nutrient that is important for building strong, healthy bones.

Magnesium: Studies show that men and women with lowered magnesium levels are more likely to have bone density issues.

Zinc: With low zinc levels, you are more likely to absorb bone-harming cadmium. Ensure your zinc levels are high enough with a daily supplement.

Phosphorous: Phosphorous is an essential mineral that is used to build strong, healthy bones.

Preventing Cadmium-Related Bone Loss

Poor bone health can dramatically shorten a person’s life. As a person ages, bone density loss leads to an increased risk for falls, fractures, and hospital stays that can quickly cause a person to lose independence or even their life. Exposure to metals like cadmium can artificially reduce the density of your bones and cause premature bone aging. Although there is not much you can do to avoid exposure to cadmium from environmental sources, there are steps you can take to remove as much of the toxins from your body as possible and build your bones using nutrition and supplements. These two methods are highly effective at restoring bone health no matter your age.





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