Aluminum is a trace mineral, but it can be dangerous, even fatal, if consumed in excessive amounts. There is no established function of aluminum in human nutrition. Aluminum weakens the living tissue of the alimentary canal, the digestive tube from the mouth to the anus. Many of aluminum's harmful effects result from its destruction of vitamins. It binds with many other substances and is never found alone in nature. Aluminum is found in many plant and animal foods. It can be found in tap water because aluminum sulfate is used in the water purification process and not of the aluminum is filtered out. Aluminum is add to most table salt to prevent caking. It is used certain stomach antacids. Aluminum is also used foil, deodorants, baking powder, as an emulsifier some processed cheeses, and as a bleaching agent whiten flour.
Aluminum is easily absorbed by the body and is inflated in the arteries. Highest concentrations are found in the lungs, liver, thyroid, and brain. Usually most of the aluminum taken into the body is ultimately excreted. Adelle Davis reports that magnesium can displace aluminum in the body. A patient with aluminum toxicity was relieved of irritability and poor mem¬ory and concentration after taking magnesium supplements. Foods cooked in aluminum utensils may absorb minute quantities of the mineral.
The total aluminum content of the adult body is from 50 to 150 milligrams. The daily amount ingested in the average diet ranges from 10 milligrams to more than 100 milligrams.
Excessive amounts of aluminum can result in symptoms of poisoning. These symptoms include constipation, colic, loss of appetite, nausea, skin ailments, twitching of leg muscles, excessive perspiration, and loss of energy. Patients with aluminum poisoning should discontinue the use of aluminum cookware. Doctors often recommend that the drinking of tap water be discontinued.
Small quantities of soluble salts of aluminum present in the blood cause a slow form of poisoning characterized by motor paralysis and areas of local numbness, with fatty degeneration of kidney and liver. There are also anatomical changes in the nerve centers and symptoms of gastrointestinal inflammation. These symptoms result from the body's effort to eliminate the poison.
It has been found that aluminum hydroxide gel, a stomach antacid, can reduce blood phosphate, leading bones to dissolve and causing aching and weak muscles, persons particularly prone to osteoporosis should be careful of aluminum ingestion.
Trace amounts of aluminum applied to the brain surface of animals resulted in seizures and fits. Other studies demonstrated that aluminum salts injected into lie fluid surrounding the brain produced changes that similar to those occurring in senile dementia. In further animal studies, cats given aluminum became slow learners at experimental tasks. The level of aluminum in the cats' brains was equivalent to the amount and in the brains of persons who have a type of senility called Alzheimer's disease.