Effects of Aluminium

You might be surprised to discover that the metal aluminium is the 3rd most abundant element in the earth’s crust, after oxygen and silicon. In addition to obvious uses in cars and aeroplanes and construction, in our daily lives, it is found in many household items such deodorants, cooking utensils and food packaging.

What are the effects of Aluminium?

In 1970, a Canadian research team found that there was a connection between our intake of aluminum and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  High levels of aluminum concentrations were found in the brains of Alzheimer patients on autopsy.

Since then, research has prevaricated on the effects of aluminium and its possible connection to Alzheimer’s. Investigations of the long-term health effects are still ongoing, but elevated brain aluminium concentrations have also been found in postmortem examinations of victims, and further research to determine if there is a link, has been commissioned.

Most of our exposure to aluminum occurs through ingestion or eating.  It is found in drinking water, medicines and other pharmaceuticals, such as antacids and antiperspirants. While these are the biggest contributors to aluminum exposures, aluminum cookware is also known to be a potential source.

Aluminium in Cookware

In response to concerns in recent years about the safety of chemicals used to create non-stick surface coated pans, people are increasingly changing to use aluminum pans.

Aluminum pans are light and relatively inexpensive compared to other frequently used such as copper, cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic and are a common choice for cookware. Cast iron pans look fantastic and are long-lasting but they are very heavy; certainly too heavy for me to use.

In order to minimize the amount of aluminum that absorbs into our food from cookware, avoid cooking acidic foods like tomatoes and rhubarb in aluminum pans. Obviously try not to store leftovers in aluminum foil, because the longer the food sits the more aluminum will absorb. As more aluminum depletes from old, pitted and worn pans, you may want to consider changing old aluminum cookware.

Manufacturers have introduced anodized aluminum pans that are manufactured with harder aluminium that reduces the amount of aluminum that absorbs into food, making it a better choice. According to the Anodized Aluminum Manufacturers, anodized aluminum cookware still leaches aluminum into your food with each use.  Better to avoid its use altogether.

Although the use of aluminium cookware has not been shown conclusively to lead to aluminium toxicity in general, excessive use of aluminium-containing antiperspirants, provide more significant exposure levels.

Aluminium in Antiperspirtant

The effects of aluminium in antiperspirants have been examined over the last few decades. Although there is little evidence to suggest that normal exposure to aluminium presents a risk to healthy adults, some studies point to risks associated with increased exposure to the metal, especially if the antiperspirant is ingested.  There are many natural, plant-based antiperspirants available, which I have found to be just as effective.

My philosophy in these circumstances is to take a precautionary approach.  I don’t wait for conclusive evidence to prove a health risk, but I actively choose to minimize that risk wherever possible.

20 Oct, 2014

4 thoughts on “Effects of Aluminium

  1. Very good information. I have one pot that I use for pasta and rice, or potatoes that my mom gave me a few years ago.

    It does cook well, but I worry about the aluminum in it sometimes.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I know that if it were me and I had a concern or worry about something that contained aluminium, I would stop using it. I tend to air on the side of caution about health issues that could concern my long-term health.

      Perhaps an option for you would be to keep your mum’s pot but don’t use it. Keep it as a keepsake instead.

  2. This is a really informative and well researched post.

    I can recall a scare from storing food in aluminium foil a while ago and reading about a possible ink with Alzheimers. I was looking a some pans recently as mine are getting a bit old and noticed that all new aluminium pans now have the coating your refer to.

    I have to say manufacturers don’t change their products just for the sake of it, so I think that is proof in itself that the potential health risks are real. I agree with your precautionary approach and that it is a good idea to be better safe than sorry.

    1. Thank you. I tend to go with the precautionary approach in all things to do with health, primarily because I already struggle with my health, but also because it would concern me not to.

      I believe anything out there in the media that refers to possible health issues should be taken seriously, or at least considered.

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