Sunday, May 13, 2007

Vitamin C, Niacin, B-complex Vitamins, Heavy metals, and Childhood Disorders Like Autism and ADHD

Our government recognizes the toxicity of mercury. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides instructions for dealing with spills of mercury from compact fluorescent light bulbs and thermometers. The instructions involve containing the spilled mercury in a sealed plastic bag and then delivering it to local authorities for special disposal. You can read more details about responsible management of a spill of just a few milligrams of mercury in your home here:

The same DEP takes a different approach towards the release of 48 metric tons/year of mercury from coal-fired power plants. This behavior is OK because the benefits of lower-priced electricity are believed to outweigh the costs of any neurological disorders caused by released mercury.

Oddly enough, this is not quite as simple an issue as it seems. It is painfully difficult to prove that there is a causative linkage between the growing incidence in childhood neurological problems and heavy metals emissions from burning coal and high sulfur fuel oil. Affordable fuel and electricity is at the foundation of a modern economy. Raising the cost of electricity and transportation has real negative consequences. Inflation and unemployment hurt children too.

Personally, I don’t like the above argument. If inflation and unemployment are the consequence of responsible combustion of fossil fuels – so be it. On the other hand, surely we can find a way to subsidize clean energy while reducing inflation and unemployment in the process.

What can be done in the meantime? Vitamin C is known to facilitate children’s natural defenses against heavy metal poisoning. The body can find poisonous metals, dissolve them, and urinate them away. This process can be thought of as a subset of wound healing. In this case, the wound is a heavy metal lodged in body tissue. B-complex vitamins are known to be involved in many of the metabolic pathways responsible for wound healing. It is not unreasonable to speculate that taking extra vitamin C and extra B-complex vitamins can help prevent trace heavy metals in the environment from harming children. Dosage recommendations for vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, niacin, and multivitamins can be found in many of the columns below.

There are many side effects associated with vitamins, and children taking extra vitamins should be monitored regularly by parents and pediatricians. This extra effort seems to me to be a small price to pay for some insurance against the terrible problems heavy metals can cause.


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