Unwrapping Aluminum Toxicity

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Aluminum toxicity occurs when someone absorbs an abundant amount of aluminum in their body. Aluminum is everywhere and is difficult not to consume. It is the most abundant metal found on Earth and makes up 8% of Earth’s crust. It is in the air, water, soil, and our food. Research has not yet shown the role and function for aluminum in the body, but it does compete for absorption in the body with iron, calcium, and magnesium, causing other illnesses. Aluminum toxicity generally does not affect someone with normal kidney function. However, the population at risk for aluminum toxicity is someone without normal kidney function and the elderly.

Consumption of Aluminum

Aluminum is consumed in different ways. We eat, drink, and breathe minute amounts of aluminum; we can also get it through dialysis and other medicines. Aluminum is found in our drinking water supply because cities use the mineral to help treat the water. It is also added to many different baking products that people use on a daily basis. From these products an abundant amount of food can be made.

Baking Products Containing Aluminum

  • Baking Powder
  • Self-rising flour
  • Table Salt
  • Pickling Salt
  • Processed Cheeses

Medicines Containing Aluminum

  • Antacids
  • Antiperspirants
  • Dialysate (solution of chemicals used in dialysis)
  • Immunizations
  • TPN (total parental nutrition) solution

Foods Containing Aluminum

  • Pizza Dough
  • Cakes
  • Brownies
  • Pickles
  • Nachos
  • Salted Snacks
  • Hot Cocoa
  • Waffles
  • Bread
  • Any Food That Is Pickled

Signs and Symptoms

Aluminum does not affect those with normal kidney function. Signs and symptoms of Aluminum toxicity include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Fractures that do not heal
  • Altered mental status
  • Anemia
  • Impaired iron absorption
  • Impaired immunity
  • Seizures
  • Dementia
  • Growth retardation in children
  • Spinal deformities

Aluminum toxicity mimics other disease processes and doctors may not test for it immediately. For example, the aluminum competes with iron and calcium absorption causing iron-deficiency anemia and/or skeletal demineralization.

Cooking in Aluminum

Aluminum cookware is used by many households in America today. It is affordable, a good heat conductor, and rust resistant. Cooking in aluminum pots and pans can add significantly more aluminum to your diet. Cooking acidic foods like spaghetti sauce and boiling water in aluminum pots and pans causes the aluminum to seep into the water or the food that an individual happens to be cooking. Health professionals are concerned about this because Alzheimer’s patients have more aluminum deposits in their brains than people without Alzheimer’s.


Information from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/165315-treatment, http://www.med.nyu.edu/patientcare/library/article.html?ChunkIID=164929, http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/hemodialysis/index.htm#how. http://www.ehow.com/about_4577686_aluminum-cookware.html. Produced by Meals on Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County by Aaron Carter, nutrition intern for Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D. For questions regarding nutrition education contact: Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D., Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County at 817-336-0912 or email: ssimon@mealsonwheels.org. Website: www.mealsonwheels.org. September 2011 

Posted in Nutritional Education.

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