Do Kids Need to Detox?
In today’s world, toxins are prevalent in the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, as well as in our everyday products. This can lead to toxin accumulation that can impact our health and well-being. And while we may think toxin build up is something that only happens as we get older, in many ways children can be more vulnerable to the effect of toxins.
To combat or offset the body’s absorption of toxic substances, we may consider a detox, but is detoxing safe for children too? In this article, we will discuss why parents may consider a detox for their kids, which detox method is most effective, as well as the benefits of detox for children.
Unprecedented Levels of Heavy Metals and Toxins
Opponents of detoxing for children point to the fact that our bodies already have detoxification pathways, such as our liver and kidneys, which work to flush out heavy metals and toxins.
However, our detoxification systems simply cannot keep up with the level of heavy metals and environmental pollutants we are exposed to every day. By some counts, we are now exposed to over 80,000 chemicals, a staggering level of toxins that previous generations never had to face (1).
Over the past century, industrialization has led to higher levels of heavy metals in our environment due to pollution released into the atmosphere, which settles into the soil our food is grown in, repeatedly cycles through our waterways, and ends up in countless consumer products (2).
Since heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic are natural elements, they do not degrade over time. Each year, more metals are released into the environment, and like rings in a tree, the level of contamination keeps rising, so that each successive generation has a greater exposure level to toxic heavy metals than the one before (3, 4, 5).
While parents do their best to keep children safe and free from harm, we are inundated with toxins in our environment, which makes it harder and harder to ensure that neither ourselves nor our children are exposed to toxins.
Toxin Exposure Starts Before Children are Born
Most moms-to-be are extremely careful with what they eat and drink while pregnant, yet environmental toxins they have been exposed to during their lifetime readily pass through to their unborn baby.
A landmark study on umbilical cord blood found 287 industrial chemicals passed through to the baby, many of which are known to be toxic to the brain, nervous system, and normal development (6).
Another study on umbilical cord blood and maternal blood found that some toxins were actually higher in the cord blood, showing that babies may experience higher exposures to these toxins than their mothers, just when they are at a crucial developmental stage (7).
A large study testing the blood of women of childbearing age found that approximately 8% of them had mercury levels high enough to cause adverse effects, which is particularly concerning since the heavy metal mercury is a toxin that passes through the placenta to the baby (8).
Critically, these exposures are happening at a time when a baby does not have a fully developed detoxification system, meaning their toxic effects can be even more pronounced than they would be in older children or adults.
And while breastmilk is undoubtedly the healthiest food for babies, it can also contain toxins. In addition to heavy metals, research has shown that breastmilk may have toxic PFAS chemicals and flame-retardant toxins (9).
Children May Have Higher Toxin Exposure than Adults
Children are generally more susceptible to heavy metal toxicity than adults because of their underdeveloped organ systems, how they put non-food items in their mouths, and higher food consumption relative to body weight (10).
When it comes to our children’s exposure to these harmful substances, the most common sources of toxins are the result of everyday behaviors. Seemingly innocuous things like rugs and carpets, household dust, plastic sippy cups, or baby bedding can be direct sources of trace metals, bisphenols (BPA) and PFAS chemicals (11, 12, 13, 14).
Additionally, an estimated 40% of Americans breathe unhealthy air, which can lead to higher toxin intake for children since they have a higher respiratory rate, meaning they take in more breaths per minute (15).
The combination of a higher toxin load and underdeveloped detoxification systems mean that toxins are stored in the body and over time, can lead to a variety of health effects.
Signs Your Child May Need to Detox
Due to a child’s ongoing development, signs of toxin build-up may present differently compared to an adult. And not all children are affected in the same way. While every child has some level of toxin exposure, some are more visibly impacted than others due to a combination of genetics, epigenetics, environmental and lifestyle factors.
Some children may exhibit no signs of toxicity, while others may display moodiness, tantrums, fatigue, and develop dark circles under their eyes. Many parents chalk up these signs to normal growing pains, but they can also be signs of heavy metal and environmental toxin build-up.
9 Common Signs of Toxins in Children
- Developmental delays (mercury slows fine motor skills) (16)
- Excessive fatigue (lead or arsenic can cause anemia) (17)
- Behavioral issues such as irritability and restlessness (lead) (18)
- Often coming down with bugs (cadmium impacts zinc function) (19)
- Difficulty in focusing or staying on task (lead exposure) (20)
- Excessive moodiness (mercury can cause mood swings) (21)
- Being withdrawn or overly shy (mercury, lead, or cadmium) (22)
- Delays in language or learning (lead or arsenic exposure) (23)
- Stomach and gut discomfort (leaky gut can increase toxin load)
Although it’s scary to think that our children are being regularly exposed to these harmful toxins, there are ways to combat exposure through diet, exercise, and intentional lifestyle choices such as buying organic foods, “clean” household products, and opting for a safe and gentle detox.
Reducing Your Child’s Exposure to Toxins
It’s not all gloom and doom. While it’s impossible to completely eliminate toxin exposure, there are many ways to reduce exposure to toxins in your household and surroundings by:
- Emphasizing an organic, whole food, balanced diet, and opting for snacks that are not highly processed or in plastic packaging.
- Ensuring your child gets regular exercise, even if that’s just extra playtime activity.
- Selecting all-natural household products and plant-based alternatives to highly toxic chemical cleansers, pesticides, detergents, and body care products.
- Installing a water filter in your home, if possible, or simply using a countertop filter will help to reduce toxin exposure.
- Adding a safe, natural detox supplement such as natural mineral zeolite to your child’s routine.
Providing a Safe, Natural Detox for Children
While there are steps you can take to reduce exposure to harmful toxins in your immediate environment, like choosing organic whole foods, natural household detergents, and avoiding pesticides, many parents are looking for a way to help reduce toxin overload, by adding in a detox.
A word of caution: some “detox” elimination diets may deprive children of essential nutrients they need for growth, so talk with your pediatrician or a nutritionist before making any major food changes.
In evaluating a detox for kids, it’s important to choose a method that is safe, gentle, and backed by science. That’s why natural mineral zeolite is a popular choice among parents and health professionals.
The zeolite clinoptilolite is a natural mineral that has been extensively studied for its ability to reduce heavy metals and toxins, and is renowned for the way it selectively removes toxins while maintaining essential minerals in the body (26, 27, 28).
Natural zeolite maintains GRAS status (generally recognized as safe) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is one of the easiest, safest, and most gentle forms of detox.
While powdered zeolites are available on the market, the preferred and most effective method for detox is natural liquid zeolite, whereby the zeolite is purified and sized small enough to be absorbed so it can provide a deep detox.
Zeolite’s mechanism of action is simple: imagine that the zeolite has a negative charge, and heavy metals have a positive charge. The zeolite acts as a magnet and attracts and traps these positively-charged toxins into and onto the zeolite and then carries them out of the body through the excretory system.
Just a simple, flavorless drop or spray is all that’s needed to help move along the body’s natural detoxification processes. No funny flavors, major habit changes, or stringent diets required. It’s kid and parent friendly.
In Conclusion: Kids Can Benefit from Detox
There are numerous benefits to detoxing the body of heavy metals and environmental pollutants. By removing heavy metals and other toxins that act to suppress a child’s overall health and well-being, a child can thrive.
Reducing exposure is just one means of helping the body, but aiding in the release of toxins is paramount to feeling good and optimizing our health. Since children are more likely to absorb heavy metals from the womb onwards, they can experience many benefits from a detox, including more energy, a healthy mood, being able to stay on task, supporting healthy digestion and more.
The bottom line is that no matter how careful we are, we are surrounded by toxins. Taking simple steps such as being more cognizant of the products we use in our households, foods we purchase, and supplements we use daily can make a big difference in supporting our children’s health and happiness.be