On the flip side, chelation therapy can be dangerous, especially for children, due, in part, to the fact that the chelating agents are often non-specific for their target metals. This highlights a classic problem in medical research, the rift between theory and practice.
For example, some versions or derivatives of EDTA can "pick up" or remove significant amounts of the important mineral calcium (which, in addition to its role in skeletal function is an extremely important mineral in regulating heart rhythms, and optimizing nervous system function, among other things) along with the desired heavy metals lead and mercury. Cases of deaths due to this chelation therapy for autism have been reported, and recent clinical trials for chelation therapy for autism have been halted.
Enzyme systems: Nature's alternatives to organic chelating agents?
Fortunately, our bodies contain a number of powerful enzymes which not only can protect our brain and other important organs from oxidative damage, but actually help remove harmful or toxic materials from our systems.
However, in order for these enzymes to work at optimal levels, they must be constantly equipped with adequate levels of helpful nutrients or cofactors. Cofactors, often come in the form of our dietary vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, etc., and are required by numerous enzymes in order for the enzymes to work at peak efficiency. Not surprisingly, several of these cofactors have been discussed for their relevance to ADHD in earlier postings of this blog (see links on nutrients listed above)
This is why nutrient deficiencies can be so hazardous, because literally hundreds or even thousands of enzyme systems may be in jeopardy if our bodies are deficient in just a handful of nutrients.
Two of these important enzyme system and enzyme products are the metallothionein enzyme and the peptide glutathione (which is not an enzyme, but is synthesized via several enzymes and is sensitive to the balance between oxidant and antioxidant levels).
metallothionein is also expressed in the brain, glutathione reserves need to be high (whether there's chelation or no) Most nutrients kick up Hg to begin with (for example, iodine, zinc, sulfurous nutrients (thiamine, MSM), Vitamin C, Cobalamine).