Aluminium

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Mineral Health Connection

While many have assumed Aluminum (Al) to be a toxic element and have even correlated the metal with Alzheimer's. There remains still a biological function for the element, such as its role in activating the enzyme, succinic dehydrogenase. Which increases the survival rate of newborns.  Leaving the element in a unique position as an essential trace nutrient. 

In animal studies, Aluminum blocks the action potential (electrical discharge) of neurons, reducing nervous system activity. It also blocks essential enzyme expression in the brain such as Na-K-ATPase and hexokinase. Aluminium may also inhibit uptake of important neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine  (5-HTP) by nerve cells.

Aluminium is known to compete for absorption with Calcium. Thus increased amounts of dietary Aluminum intake can decrease skeletal mineralisation, leading to osteopenia. 

Bauxite

A particularly rich Aluminum clay, named Bauxite was found in Las Baux, France in the early 1700's.

Aluminium itself does not express itself as a free metal in Nature and is only found in combination with oxygen which forms a hard oxide called alumina. When contaminated with other elements alumina differentiates into gems such as rubies and sapphires which have been used for thousands of years in the art of Ayurvedic Medicine. 

Hans Christian Oerstad in 1825, first isolated the metal Aluminum by treating alumina-containing clay with carbon and chlorine amalgams of potassium, resulting in a volatile mixture of Mercury and Aluminum, once the mercury was separated as a vapor by boiling, what remained was a powdery metal that resembling the metal Tin in both colour and luster. Aluminium! A versatile, semiprecious metal!

Aluminium Toxicity?

According to professor Gerhard Schrauzer, Aluminum should be listed as an essential mineral for all vertebrates including humans. 

The Lethal Dose, of Aluminum Sulfate, also called the LD50 is 6207/mg/kg orally for a mouse. To consume this much aluminium, would be the equivalent of 500 grams (more than an lb of coffee) for an 80 kg human per day!

While Aluminum intake does indicate sensitivity to some individuals, resulting in contact dermatitis and digestive disturbances, however toxicology research has concluded that Aluminum is not as toxic as other elements such as mercury, cadmium, or arsenic. 

While I was growing up, there was a rumour correlating Aluminum to Alzheimer's disease, to date I have not come across any literature that suggests exposure could cause any disease, let alone a disease such as Alzheimer's..  [1] Furthermore, on the Alzheimer's Society of Canada website, they state: Studies have not provided strong evidence of aluminum being a risk factor for the development of dementia. [2] 

Sources Of Aluminum Toxicity

  • Aluminium cans (soda pop and beer)

  • Food cooked in aluminium cookware

  • Aluminium-containing antacids

  • Antiperspirants.

  • Water (Aluminum is frequently added to municipal water)

  • Fluoridated water increases leaching of aluminium from aluminium pots and pans.

  • Baking Soda, and Baking powders

  • As a drying agent in salt and other products.

  • Processed cheese

  • Bleached flour

Today children are often born with elevated aluminium, that is passed from mother to fetus through the placenta

Detection Of Aluminum

Blood Tests. There is debate whether blood testing for aluminum has much value. Blood levels do not indicate total body load of aluminium.

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. Aluminium levels appear to correlate well with bone levels of Aluminum. Several hair tests may be required before aluminium is revealed, however, most often it is prevalent. Low Aluminum on an HTMA, may indicate that the element is tightly bound within body tissues, and may take several months on a nutritional balancing program to mobilise.

Possible Conditions Associated With Aluminum Toxicity

Early symptoms of aluminium toxicity include flatulence, headaches, colic, dryness of skin and mucous membranes, a tendency for colds, burning pain in head relieved by food, heartburn and an aversion to meat.

Later symptoms include paralytic muscular conditions, loss of memory and mental confusion.

 

[1] Absence of aluminium in neuritic plaque cores in Alzheimer's disease J. P. Landsberg, B. McDonald & F. Watt Nature 360, 65–68 (05 November 1992)

[2] http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/Home/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Risk-factors/Aluminum