Blood elemental analysis should be performed prior to the initiation of, and intermittingly during, metal detoxification. Toxic metals disrupt essential element metabolism and are antagonistic to some elements such as cadmium to zinc and lead to calcium. Further, commonly utilized metal detoxification agents can cause significantly increased urinary wasting of some essential elements. For example, EDTA has a very high affinity for zinc and manganese, and DMPS results in marked increases in copper excretion. Therefore, appropriate evaluation of essential element status is an integral component of safe and effective metal detoxification therapy.
Analysis of toxic elements/metals in whole blood is useful for assessment of recent or ongoing exposure to the toxins, but does not provide accurate information about net retention of toxic metals in the body. For example, blood lead levels peak about five hours after acute exposure and then decrease exponentially with a half-life in blood of about one month. Evaluation and elimination of ongoing exposure to toxic metals is another important component of efficient metal detoxification.
Accurate assessment of essential element status in the most appropriate compartment is highly recommended for determination of appropriate supplementation. The absorption, transport and metabolism of essential elements is highly integrated and regulated. Inappropriate supplementation or dietary imbalance of elements can have significant adverse health effects. For example, excess intake of zinc or molybdenum can result in copper deficiency and excess assimilation of manganese can have serious neurotoxic effects that are expressed as Parkinson’s-like disease.
Whole blood analysis is an excellent test for measuring the levels of both intracellular and extracellular circulating elements. Extracellular elements have functions in serum/plasma or are transported to tissues in serum/plasma associated with specific proteins or albumen. Intracellular elements have very specific functions as obligatory constituents of metalloproteins/enzymes in red blood cells and lymphocytes. The red and white blood cells serve as surrogate cells representative of peripheral cells in general. Some essential elements, such as selenium, are portioned in and have important physiological roles in both the intracellular and extracellular compartments. Likewise, the toxic metal lead is transported in both the fluid and cellular (red blood cells) compartments of blood. Therefore, measurement of elements in both blood compartments permits a more complete evaluation of total blood element levels.