This post covers:

  • Basic intro to how damaging toxic levels of heavy metals can be for the human body
  • The two heavy metal tests I took to ascertain my heavy metal levels (urine + blood tests)
  • Why, in hindsight, I would skip the urine test and just do the blood test
  • Example of the results that came back

Introduction

It’s not hyperbole to say we live in an unnatural environment. With lots of pollutants in the environment there’s a greater than 0% chance of consuming products that elevate your heavy metal stores above a safe threshold. this can be problematic for a number of reasons, such as:

Lead + Cardiovascular Disease Risk

A study published in the Lancet (link) shows elevated levels of lead in the blood is a risk for cardiovascular disease, comparable with smoking cigarettes (!)

^ Image source, this paper

To quote the paper:

“Our findings suggest that, of 2·3 million deaths every year in the USA, about 400,000 are attributable to lead exposure, an estimate that is about ten times larger than the current one.”

Lead is a well known heavy metal toxin, but there are other common ones such as cadmium, arsenic, mercury.

Personally I was curious to check my heavy metal levels – and using the UK as my base I set out to find tests.

Enter Biolab (UK)

Biolab are one of the UK blood test providers that offer a wide ranging of tests. However they do not sell their tests directly to the public. Instead you need to work through a medical professional or nutritionist who is registered with them.

Personally I stumbled across a site (via Google) called MindOverMetal who offered heavy metal testing at a reasonable price.

Heavy Metal Urine Test

Initially I thought it would be convenient and affordable to test myself via their urine test. However, when I got the results it dawned on me that this isn’t super useful.

Given the way our bodies work a urine test is going to show which metals your body is excreting. So if an element is elevated it’s hard to know if that’s a problem, or, if your body is doing exactly as it should be and excreting it before it builds up to a problematic level. Ergo, I received the results and realized they’re not a lot of use.

The full PDF report can be found here if you’d like to take a look:

Heavy Metal Blood Test

Take 2: I find a blood test that appears to cover a wide range of heavy metals – and some minerals that I wouldn’t mind having measured.

Whereas the previous test was simply a plastic tube that got posted to my house and I was asked to fill it with urine and send back, this next test required me to get a blood test. Luckily, Biolab offer phlebotomy as part of their price, and I wasn’t staying too far from their London location it’s done.

3 days after the blood test I receive the results, and found the following:

  • Everything “bad” was more-or-less within range.
  • Selenium, an essential micro-nutrient, was low

The full PDF report can be found here if you’d like to take a look:

The information about selenium came at a useful time, because I had just found I had Covid, and it gave me time to supplement it. Selenium isn’t talked about a great deal, but it’s important to health immune function, and is particularly important when dealing with viral infections. Besides Brazil nuts, it isn’t found particularly abundantly in other foods, so I supplemented it with pills to be sure.

Downside to this heavy metal test

The particular blood test I did looks at “whole blood” rather than serum. The difference between serum and whole blood, is that serum is the portion of blood left after clotting has occurred. Labs achieve this separation by spinning the blood using a centrifuge, such that the clotted blood ends up at the bottom, and the serum above it.

Serum is most commonly used for blood tests, meaning that when you look online for reference ranges you’ll typically get serum values. This makes it a bit harder to cross-check your results with online resources, as you have to specifically search out whole blood reference ranges.

Not a deal breaker, but just worth noting. The upside of testing whole-blood is that you’re checking all the blood for traces of heavy metals.

Roundup

So that was my experience of testing for heavy metals. If anyone’s looking to do similar, hopefully there was at least a nugget or two of value in there.

My guess is that this test doesn’t need to be repeated regularly, just at occasional (multi-year) intervals. Unless exposure to heavy metals is suspected.

Useful Links

  • The urine test mentioned (UK) – link
  • The blood test mentioned (UK) – from the same provider as above, but can’t currently see it linked on the website

Posted by John Alexander

Hi, I'm John, a researcher and writer.

With a keen interest in health and longevity.

Note: not an MD or PhD.

Hope you enjoy the site. If you've suggestions for content you'd like to see - let me know.

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