Sunday, June 29, 2008


Detoxification By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA The EPA tracks about 650 toxic chemicals used in 23,600 facilities in the US. The agency reports that about half of the 4.24 billion pounds of these toxic chemicals are annually released into the air, ground or water. These include chemicals from the mining, smelting and power generation industries, paper production, electronic equipment manufacturing, plastics, pesticides, etc. While the highest release of chemicals is associated with mining and power production, other industries release problematic chemicals into the environment on a daily basis, all over our country. Certain groups are most at risk (e.g., children, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly). I would also add that people with multiple chemical exposures or even a single toxic level of exposure can develop a hyper-sensitivity to chemicals that can be debilitating. This condition is often called multiple chemical sensitivity. Of course, there is an increase in exposures as our exposure to so many chemicals uses up key nutrients and can overload the body’s ability to detoxify these toxic “insults” to the liver and other body systems. As our need for key nutrients and optimal detoxification processes grows during repeated, chronic exposures, our bodies may fail to keep pace and the levels of toxins can accumulate in our body. The results can be subtle (acne, headaches, persistent “colds”) or extreme (hair or tooth loss, chronic fatigue, pain). We see inflammatory-related conditions increasing, such as liver problems, cardiovascular issues, joint degradation and brain degeneration. While it is true that these conditions are associated with aging, it is also true that aging relates to the body’s inability to properly remove toxins and distribute nutrients to all of its tissues. Inflammatory chemicals can be either the original chemical or a biochemical metabolite that is produced in the body as a temporary step in neutralizing and removing the chemical. If inadequate nutrient stores do not allow the detoxification to complete - and often heroic levels of nutrients far above the RDI’s are required in these situations – then the body still will have a burden of toxic, inflammatory chemicals to contend with. The old adage is to reduce the exposure and increase the nutrients in order to allow the body to clear these toxins in its usual manner. Everything that lowers exposure, even removing shoes when entering a house or using appropriate filters for air ducts, may be helpful in reducing airborne toxins. But it is also important to reduce exposures through varied sources such as medications, non-organic food and the environment as best we can. Antioxidants, including sulfur-containing substances, are the key to detoxification. Methylation, sulfation and antioxidant reduction are some detoxification techniques used by the liver, especially. The liver utilizes these methods to render toxins inert enough to allow removal through the bile or the urine. Methylation can be enhanced by methyl donor nutrients, such as choline, TMG, DMG and SAMe. Sulfation is done with MSM, sulfur from plants (garlic, onions, broccoli, kale) or sulfur-containing proteins (methionine, cysteine, glutathione). Antioxidants include Vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, etc. Any sources of these nutrients would be beneficial to aiding the body’s natural detoxification systems. One problem is that people often fear to use adequate, high levels of these nutrients, such as taking Vitamin C up to bowel tolerance levels. Some natural substances that enhance/support detoxification include Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Sodium Alginate, Chlorella, Bladderwrack, MSM, Beet Root, Red Clover, Dandelion Root, Oregon Grape Root, and Milk Thistle Extract. Another new product is a broccoli seed concentrate called “sgs™”, which is backed by numerous clinical studies at Johns Hopkins regarding its ability to enhance natural detoxification. Adequate fiber is also important in moving the waste quickly through the colon to help remove toxins while avoiding exposure to toxins from the waste or from inappropriate microbes that fester in an unhealthy colon. Probiotics are important, especially bifidobacteria (Bifidus). Drinking adequate amounts of clean, filtered water is another must. Eating organic whenever possible is important, avoiding non-organic fruits and vegetables prone to heavy chemical exposure. Detoxification is a normal bodily function, so claiming that a dietary supplement can support this function would be a legitimate “structure-function statement” authorized by federal law if the clinical documentation is available. Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA is a nationally certified clinical nutritionist with a Diplomate in Advanced Nutritional Laboratory Assessment. He is a professional member of the International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists. Neil is the nutrition education manager and a product formulator for NOW Foods, a natural food and dietary supplement manufacturer in Bloomingdale, Illinois. Neil is a member of the Scientific Council of the national Clinical Nutrition Certification Board and serves on the board of directors of the Mid-American Health Organization (MAHO), the Midwest regional affiliate of the National Products Association (formerly NNFA). Neil is routinely interviewed for articles in trade magazines serving the natural products industry and has published articles in magazines and newspapers, contributed to scientific journals and has been a guest on numerous radio shows. He has been interviewed for television news reports many times over a 33-year career. You can read some of Neil’s recent articles at his non-commercial website:

1 comment:

Matthew Celestine said...

I am glad you suggested removing shoes in homes.

I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might want to take a look.