Learning About Arsenic In My Son’s Body

by holli on May 26, 2014

I’ve written a little bit about my learning curve these past few months with (lead and mercury), and I decided it was time to share the latest about my son’s health. The learning curve has been very steep both mentally and emotionally. There were moments where I wanted to cry and honestly knew that I could not trust my brain to function without emotion taking over. While I appreciate that I am sensitive, I know that in order to fully grasp and deal with all of this, I had to take my time and let my emotions calm down first.

The first round of tests done revealed that my son had a high level of Mercury and some Lead. He also has the MTHFR C677T gene mutation that I do. That means basically, that his body isn’t able to produce an enzyme to absorb B-Vitamins. And that means, that his body is only able to use about 30% of any Magnesium and Calcium and other minerals and vitamins that it gets.

Depending on the individual, the protocol for the C677T mutation is a Methylated B-Vitamin complex as well as minerals and vitamins. After about 6 weeks following a protocol of Methylated B-Vitamin complex, minerals and high grade fish oil, we did another blood test to see if his body was eliminating the heavy metals on it’s own. And, we included Arsenic in the panel (which wasn’t done before partly because we started with one doctor who referred us to our current one so it was missed). The good news is that his lead is gone! And, the Mercury is down by half. But, his Arsenic was way above the reference range.

Arsenic is something that naturally occurs from the earth’s crust, but there is a toxic type of arsenic which is found in wood treatment and pesticides. So, we did another test to see what kinds were high in his body. Sure enough, he has a high level of the toxic kind of Arsenic. So, he is taking two new supplements to help his body eliminate the rest of the Mercury and the Arsenic. I was told to take a closer look at his food. It’s really important to know what kind of Arsenic you have in your body, because there is naturally occurring Arsenic like in an Apple Seed.

Now, if you look up Arsenic, it is classified as a Carcinogen. And the list of symptoms and studies is long and crazy…reproductive disorders, lung cancer and death depending on level of exposure. The EPA article goes into detail about exposure levels by inhalation and reference ranges. It was a bit much to wrap my head around since I am not a Chemist, but what I learned is that we are exposed by air pollution, our food and water.

I took a close look at our soil when this all started and found that the Tacoma Plume Project conducted soil samples in 2007 and 2008 in West Seattle at schools and child care facilities like the Community Center. Those tests showed that our soil has Arsenic at “safe” levels. Interestingly enough, the location closer to the Puget Sound (more in line with the Tacoma Plume) had twice as much Arsenic as a school about 5 miles Northeast. I am satisfied that our source of exposure isn’t high enough through the soil to cause a problem.

So, let’s talk about food. Just last week, I was at the grocery story, and as I was about to pick up some Rice Milk, saw their advisory sign:

Just below the Rice Milk on the shelf.

Just below the Rice Milk on the shelf.

It’s true. Rice is contaminated with Arsenic. Our doctor said that Organic Brown Rice is usually the most contaminated. Guess what kind of Rice Milk we have used in our house for years? Yep. Organic Brown Rice is the number one ingredient. The FDA has a handy page that explains Arsenic and how it gets into our foods.

Consumer Reports have reported before about Rice Arsenic. And, it has been used to “clean” chicken from bacteria before being sold in grocery stores. The FDA said it wasn’t a risk in 2011. And some voluntarily quit this practice.

Of course, the FDA is careful to say it’s too soon to know if variety of rice or country of origin is notable. But, my Mama instinct is going to trust our Doctor about Organic Brown Rice. That means we are going to buy white rice to eat, and reduce our consumption of Rice Milk. Variety is key to good health, anyway. It would be easy to freak out and stop eating rice altogether, but really it’s such a staple for Gluten Free folks like my kids, that we can not completely remove it.

And, sadly, there are other sources of exposure (air pollution is something that is hard to study). From my son’s experience eliminating Lead and Mercury with proper nutritional support of the B-Vitamins he can absorb, I believe that our bodies are more resilient than we realize.

If we eat a well-balanced diet and get proper nutrition, our bodies are able to withstand the polluted world.

This will be an ongoing personal project as I strive to fully understand our local exposure.

p.s. The rest of the family is getting tested too. My tests came back pretty good except for Lead. And no, I’m not chewing on painted toys from China. So, I’m going to test our water next.

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