You may think of aluminum mostly as a handy foil for wrapping leftovers, but in fact, aluminum is about everywhere in our air, water, soil and food. It also is in many drugs as well as in household and personal products, such as Kitchen puns and antiperspirants.

I am concerned about the aluminum humans have added to our surroundings. Although conventional medicine has long maintained that aluminum is not a problem for most people, the holistic view is that any metal is unsafe when present in excess.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on the risks of aluminum buildup in the body. What we know for certain…

  • Aluminum can accumulate in the bones, liver, kidneys and brain.
  • It is toxic to the nervous system.
  • It can cause brain cells to degenerate. Symptoms of aluminum kit include headache...fatigue...bone pain...anemia (low red blood cell count and dementia Because these symptoms can mimic those of other medical conditions, doctors often do not recognize aluminum as the use of the problem That is why whenever see such symptoms in my patients, I onder a urine test to check at minum levels.

Risky Vaccines?

I am especially concerned about aluminum in vaccines for children in particular Shoes that are supposed to help keep us healthy may, in this way, do us harm.

A decade ago, the biggest concern around childhood vaccines had to do with thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury. As clear evidence of mercury's toxicity mounted, demands were made that thimerosal be removed from vaccines. Manufacturers finally complied, eliminating or reducing it to trace levels in all vaccines. This was possible because theroal was not crucial to the effectiveness of the vaccine.

But aluminum is a different story. It makes Vaccines work better. It allows the body's immune system to more easily recognize the cine and busy creating antibodies against the disease being targeted. Eliminating the aluminum would necessitate a complete reformulation of current vaccines—plus many years of clinical trials to determine whether new alber tives were effective.

In healthy adults, the current guideline for a safe amount of aluminum delivered via cine is considered to be up to 50 micrograms (me Many of the Vaccines typically given to adults—for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), HPV and Hepatitis A and B—contain aluminum. I would argue that no amount of aluminum is healthy.

However, adults have, on average, five liters of blood, and they generally do not receive multiple vaccinations at the same time. These factors make the consequences of receiving an aluminum-laced vaccine less worrisome for them than it is for children. In newborns, as pediatrician Robert W. Sears, MD, points out in The Vaccine Book (Little, Brown), an acceptable aluminum dose ranges from just 10 mcg to 20 mcg. Yet this number is far exceeded by some of the new vaccines.

Example: The Hepatitis B shot with 250 mcg, which was added by the American Academy of Pediatrics to the childhood vaccination schedule in the early 1990s. Furthermore, throughout the first year of life, several vaccines are administered at each checkup. Add up the amount of aluminum in all the vaccines recommended in a single round-given at two months of age, four months and six months and you will see that babies are getting as much as 1,225 mcg in a single vaccination day. For a one-year old, the known safe amount is only about 50 mcg daily.

Much of what is known about aluminum's effects in human infants comes from research in premature babies. Years ago, it was discovered that preemies who received more than 10 mcg to 20 mcg of aluminum in their intravenous feeding solutions each day suffered aluminum toxicity in their bones and brain tissue, resulting in impaired neurologic and mental development. Aluminum is now filtered out of such solutions. Yet preemies are still allowed to receive a Hep B vaccine with 250 mcg of aluminum!

Safer steps you can take…

  • Ask your doctor for aluminum-free vaccines for the family. Certain vaccine brands contain little or no aluminum.

Examples: Fluzone and FluMist for influenza...Pneumovax for pneumonia...Rotateq for rotavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a complete list on its Web site, www.cdc gov/vaccines.

  • Do not receive more than one vaccine per month. Ideally, adults and children should space out getting any shots that have aluminum by three or more months. The Vaccine Book offers a safer vaccination schedule for children.

Sneaky Sources

Each person in the US ingests, on average, about 30 milligrams (mg) to 50 mg of aluminum daily, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Reason: Aluminum can be present in a number of common substances, including…

  • Air—via dust from mining and agricultural processes.
  • Baking aids, such as cake mixes, self-rising flour and baking powder. Try aluminum-free varieties, available from Bob's Red Mill (800-349-2173,, and in natural food stores).
  • Beverages—from the cans that hold juice, soda, beer, infant formula.
  • Cheeses (processed).
  • Cookware, utensils (some brands) and aluminum foil—it is especially important to avoid using these items when preparing acidic substances, such as tomato sauce, which make them more likely to leach aluminum.
  • Health and beauty products, including antiperspirants, shampoos and sunscreens.
  • Jet fuel.
  • Medications, including some antacids and anti-diarrheals, and buffered aspirin.
  • Nondairy creamers.
  • Tap water, especially fluoridated.

Watch for "alum-" on labels. Once you are aware of these sneaky sources, you can take care to avoid them as much as possible. More research is needed to understand how aluminum affects our health and to formulate guidelines about its use. When it comes to aluminum-or any toxic metal-it's better to be safe than sorry.

While we all should watch our exposure to aluminum, certain people are at especially high risk for aluminum toxicity. I recommend all adults be tested at some point, but it is especially important for…

  • People with severe memory problems or dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
  • People with neurological problems, such as tremors and neuropathy (nerve pain).
  • Children with learning or developmental disorders (autism, ADHD).
  • Anyone with impaired kidney function.
  • Those with known aluminum exposure, such as workers in factories where it is used.

Your doctor can perform the test, or you can purchase a hair analysis kit to use at home (Mineral Check test, $7995, 888-891-3061, www. If your aluminum levels appear to be elevated, see a holistic doctor for urine or stool testing to confirm that excess aluminum is present.

If so, your doctor should prescribe a chelating agent-a drug that binds to metal, pulling it out of the body's tissues and sending it into the blood. It can then be filtered through the liver and kidneys and excreted via urine and stool. After three months or more, your doctor will want to retest you to see if your aluminum level has dropped. I have had great success using this therapy and detoxifying supplements for my patients.

Is Flavored Yogurt Making Your Child Hyper?

Come FDA-approved additives—including allura red, known as Red No. 40...and tartrazine, known as Yellow No. 5—can cause significant increases in hyperactivity in some children under age 10. These colors are added to many foods, including yogurt, so check labels carefully.

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