Is Lead In Your Drinking Water Contributing To Heart Disease and Hypertension?

Lead in Drinking Water - Dripping FaucetLead-contaminated drinking water has long been recognized as a risk for pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents. Like exposure to lead paint, the presence of this chemical element in water that you drink and cook with can cause neurological damage and learning disabilities. Now, new research shows that “low-level chronic lead consumption” due tolead-contaminated drinking water has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease in people of all ages. This is not really surprising, yet it is certainly something to be aware of.

How Does Lead Get in the Water and Are You At Risk?

Lead can occur naturally in well water due to underground deposits. Typically the amount that gets into well water supplies is relatively low unless there is industrial activity nearby. Coal mining, for example, is known to contribute to well water contamination.

Most lead contamination occurs today because of corrosion in older pipelines. Water gradually wears away at the strong heavy metal, releasing tiny amounts of it into the water. Chlorine makes the water even more corrosive causing the release of even more lead.

The use of lead in water pipes has been banned in the United States for years but not all city lines have been replaced. Some countries are still debating about whether the cost of replacing the lead pipes is worth the health benefit to the population. Older homes throughout the world are likely to have lead pipelines, as it was the material of choice for water pipes and joint solder due to its strength and corrosion-resistance.

Public treatment facilities must test for lead levels in treated supplies before the water is sent out to people’s homes. But they do not test to make sure the water is free of all traces of lead. They check to make sure it is below a “maximum contaminant level”.

So to sum it up, you could be at risk if you have well water, if you live in an older home or if you are serviced by a public treatment facility. That really means that everyone is at risk. No one knows how much exposure it takes to cause high blood pressure which eventually leads to heart disease. To quote one research group, “Extended exposure to low levels of lead causes high blood pressure in human and laboratory animals.”

Why the Connection between Lead and Heart Disease?

Because lead exposure causes high blood pressure, it increases a person’s risk of heart disease. How lead exposure causes high blood pressure is not completely understood but researchers know the damage is related to free radical activity and a lack of available nitric oxide.
Free radicals can damage any cell in the body. They play a role in cancer, heart disease and all degenerative diseases.

Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and smooth muscles. It helps to dilate the blood vessels and improves circulation throughout the body. The combined effect of a lack of nitric oxide and free radical damage wreaks havoc on the entire cardiovascular system.

So How Can You Protect Yourself?

The first step is to try to limit your exposure to lead. You can have your water tested whether you have a well or are serviced by a public treatment facility. Whether or not you decide to have testing conducted, you can install a water purifier that traps lead and other environmental toxins.

The second step is to improve your nutrient intake. Nitric oxide is created by the body from the amino acid l-arginine, along with the help of oxygen and a variety of enzymes.

Leafy greens and other vegetables are known to increase circulating blood levels of nitric oxide. Increased intake of those vegetables is associated with a corresponding decrease in blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants that help to prevent and repair free radical damage.

A healthy immune system is essential for nitric oxide production within the body. Specific nutrients such as Quercetin and herbs like olive leaf, black cumin and turmeric help to keep the immune system strong.

You cannot completely avoid environmental toxins. They are literally everywhere. Optimizing your nutrient intake can limit the toxic effects that lead and other toxins have on your body. Taking a good dietary supplement is sometimes the only way to optimize your nutrient intake and it is always the easiest way to protect your health.