• Dr. Bay

Toxic metals and high blood pressure

It is well known that high dietary salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, but how many of you know that exposure to toxic metals can lead to hypertension? That's right, heavy metals such as lead and cadmium can cause your blood pressure to go up! This is because they either compete for binding sites of important minerals your body needs or decreases the absorption of them.

The most common route of exposure to cadmium is through cigarette smoke. It is also found in some fertilizers, plastics, electronics, rechargeable batteries and paint. Some food products such as shellfish, organ meats and even vegetable/fruit produce (from absorbing cadmium in water or fertilizer) can also contain cadmium.

Lead is found in certain imported paints and toys, old piping, imported food cans, batteries, ceramics, soil (due to industrial waste), some contaminated supplements (especially those produced in China) and more. There have been various reports in NYC, of lead being found in drinking water, due to the age of the pipes and industrial run off. This tends to be an issue in many US urban areas with 3,810 neighborhoods having lead levels that are at least double of those found in Flint, MI.

Chronic exposure to low levels of toxic heavy metals can often lead to vague symptoms that don't necessarily reflect the serious side effects of acute toxicity. There are specialized tests that can help identify recent exposure to toxic metals and strategies to minimize damage, such as taking zinc and antioxidants to mitigate the effects of cadmium toxicity.

Do you eat well and exercise but still have high blood pressure? Look into heavy metal exposure! The EWG have interactive maps where you can search your zipcode for exposure to toxic substances ( and have a link to find out contaminants in your drinking water: !Look into water filters that specifically target heavy metals if you are in an at risk area.