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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 8, 2007

Vitamin Supplements Help Protect Children from Heavy Metals, Reduce Behavioral Disorders

(OMNS October 8, 2007) The ability of vitamin C to protect animals from heavy metal poisoning is well established. Recent controlled trials with yeast, fish, mice, rats, chickens, clams, guinea pigs, and turkeys all came to the same conclusion: Vitamin C protects growing animals from heavy metals poisoning. [1-7]

Benefits with an animal model do not always translate to equal benefits for humans. In this case, however, the benefit has been proven for a wide range of animals. The odds that vitamin C will protect human children are high.

There is a virtual epidemic of behavior problems, learning disabilities, ADHD and autism, and the number of children receiving special education services continues to rise steeply. Although not all causes are yet identified, growing evidence suggests that heavy metal pollution is a significant factor, and vitamin C is part of the solution.

Dr. Erik Paterson, of British Columbia, reports:

"When I was a consulting physician for a center for the mentally challenged, a patient showing behavioral changes was found to have blood lead some ten times higher than the acceptable levels. I administered vitamin C at a dose of 4,000 mg/day. I anticipated a slow response. The following year I rechecked his blood lead level. It had gone up, much to my initial dismay. But then I thought that perhaps what was happening was that the vitamin C was mobilizing the lead from his tissues. So we persisted. The next year, on rechecking, the lead levels had markedly dropped to well below the initial result. As the years went by, the levels became almost undetectable, and his behavior was markedly improved."

World-wide, coal and high sulfur fuel oil combustion release close to 300,000 tons per year of heavy metals, 100,000 tons of which are considered hazardous air pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency. [8] This includes arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, antimony, selenium, uranium, and thorium. These metals are also released to the air by the industrial processes that mine and refine metal-containing ores.

Heavy metals dispersed in the air as invisible particles are blown by the winds and therefore become widely dispersed. Few mothers or children can avoid both contaminated air and food, helping to explain why behavior problems are striking rich and poor alike.

University of Victoria professor Harold Foster, PhD, says, "Pregnant women need special protection because their fetus may be poisoned in the womb, so interfering with its development. In addition to vitamin C, nutrient minerals are also protective against heavy metal toxins. For example, selenium is antagonistic to (and so protective against) arsenic, mercury and cadmium."

Metals have always been a part of the environment, and our bodies have evolved methods to protect against them. This process involves vitamin-dependent metabolic pathways. [9] Additional vitamin intake, through the use of nutrient supplementation, can help speed up the removal process. Daily consumption of additional vitamin C and selenium is likely to protect children by helping to eliminate heavy metals from their bodies. One easy and inexpensive way to increase intake of these nutrients is by taking a vitamin C supplement with each meal, along with a multivitamin containing selenium. Vitamin supplements are remarkably safe for children. [10]


[1] Borane VR, Zambare SP. Role of ascorbic acid in lead and cadmium induced changes on the blood glucose level of the freshwater fish, Channa orientalis. Journal of Aquatic Biology, 2006. 21(2), 244-248.
[2] Gajawat, Sunita; Sancheti, Garima; Goyal, P. K. Vitamin C against concomitant exposure to heavy metal and radiation: a study on variations in hepatic cellular counts. Asian Journal of Experimental Sciences, 2005. 19(2), 53-58.
[3] Shousha, Wafaa Gh. The curative and protective effects of L-ascorbic acid & zinc sulphate on thyroid dysfunction and lipid peroxidation in cadmium-intoxicated rats. Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 2004. 22(1), 1-16.
[4] Vasiljeva, Svetlana; Berzina, Nadezda; Remeza, Inesa. Changes in chicken immunity induced by cadmium, and the protective effect of ascorbic acid. Proceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Section B: Natural, Exact and Applied Sciences, 2003. 57(6), 232-237.
[5] Mahajan, A. Y.; Zambare, S. P. Ascorbate effect on copper sulphate and mercuric chloride induced alterations of protein levels in freshwater bivalve Corbicula striatella. Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology & Environmental Sciences, 2001. 3(1-2), 95-100.
[6] Norwood, Joel, Jr.; Ledbetter, Alan D.; Doerfler, Donald L.; Hatch, Gary E. Residual oil fly ash inhalation in guinea pigs: influence of ascorbate and glutathione depletion. Toxicological Sciences, 2001. 61(1), 144-153.
[7] Guillot, I.; Bernard, P.; Rambeck, W. A. Influence of vitamin C on the retention of cadmium in turkeys. Tiergesundheitsdienst Bayern, Germany. Editors: Schubert, Flachowsky, Bitsch. Vitamine und Zusatzstoffe in der Ernaehrung von Mensch und Tier, Symposium, 5th, Jena, Sept. 28-29, 1995, 233-237.
[8] EPA Study on Nickel Releases from Burning Coal: (The study shows about 10% of nickel in coal is released to the air. The press release estimates 10% of the other metals in coal with similar properties to nickel are also released to the air.)
[9] Lewinska, Anna; Bartosz, Grzegorz. Protection of yeast lacking the Ure2 protein against the toxicity of heavy metals and hydroperoxides by antioxidants. Free Radical Research, 2007. 41(5), 580-590.
[10] Saul AW. Vitamins and food supplements: safe and effective. Testimony before the Government of Canada, 38th Parliament, 1st Session, Standing Committee on Health. Ottawa, May 12, 2005.

Vitamins are safe.

There is not even one death per year from vitamin supplementation.

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor and contact person. Email:

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