(NaturalNews) Cadmium is a widespread and highly toxic heavy metal to which most people are exposed simply through its contamination of their food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists cadmium as number seven on its list of the 275 most hazardous substances. Fortunately, research suggests that supplementation with the micronutrients vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium can significantly mitigate cadmium's damaging effects on the kidneys and bones.
For most non-smokers, cadmium enters the body via ingestion and builds up over time. In cases of chronic exposure, kidney damage is typically the first symptom. Eventually, cadmium also disrupts calcium metabolism and leads to painful fractures. It has also been linked to lung damage (when inhaled), cancer and even cognitive damage and autism.
Studies have shown, however, that vitamin C in particular can reduce the toxic effect of various elements, such as cadmium, by reducing the body's ability to absorb them. A study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology in 2004 found that rats given both cadmium and vitamin C had significantly lower cadmium levels in their livers, kidneys, testicles and muscles, as well as in their bodies overall, compared with rats given cadmium alone.
Reduced kidney and bone toxicity
Another study, conducted by researchers from Istanbul University and published in the journal Drug and Chemical Toxicology in 2008, sought to examine whether supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium might actually prevent cadmium's toxic effects on the kidneys. For eight days, rats were given supplemental cadmium, with some of them also given supplemental vitamin C, vitamin E and sodium selenate. After nine days, the researchers found signs of kidney damage in all the rats: specifically, lower levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and higher levels of glutathione (GSH) in the kidneys, along with higher blood levels of urea and creatinine. However, the change in all of these markers was significantly less in the vitamin- and selenium-supplemented rats than it was among the controls, suggesting that the vitamins and selenium did indeed protect against kidney damage.
Researchers from the University of Benin, Nigeria, further examined the effect of vitamin C on cadmium toxicity in a study published in the Nigerian Journal of Basic and Applied Science in December 2012. Noting that rates of cadmium exposure have been increasing among the Nigerian population in general, the researchers exposed rats to cadmium at doses similar to those experienced by the general population (1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 µg/kg body weight). Half the rats were also given vitamin C supplements. Markers of kidney and bone damage were examined four weeks later.
As in the 2008 study, all the rats showed signs of kidney damage, in this case, elevated serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity. Rats supplemented with vitamin C, however, had significantly lower ALP levels in both bones and kidneys than rats in the control groups, indicating less damage. The vitamin C-treated rats also had significantly higher levels of bone protein and blood calcium than the control rats.
Further research will be needed to determine whether vitamin C and other micronutrients also mitigate cadmium's effects on other organs, such as the lungs, brain and testicles.