What is Cadmium? High and low values | Lab results explained

The principal organs most vulnerable to cadmium toxicity are your kidney and lung. Environmental cadmium exposure is associated with renal tubular damage and high blood pressure. Cadmium toxicity impacts the kidney, where damage to proximal tubules has been described. Also, cadmium compounds are classified as carcinogenic to humans.

Cadmium, a common environmental pollutant and a major constituent of tobacco smoke, has been identified as a new class of endocrine disruptors with a wide range of detrimental effects on reproduction.

Associated conditions include:

Renal: hypertension, kidney failure

Neurological: loss of coordination, numbness of limbs, loss of hearing

Whole blood cadmium is indicative of recent exposure, and is therefore not reflective of total-body burden. Normal concentration of whole blood cadmium is up to 1 μg/L for nonsmokers, and up to 4 μg/L for smokers. Whole blood levels of 10 μg/L have been associated with renal dysfunction.

Urinary cadmium may be reflective of total-body burden, although recent exposure will increase levels. Monitoring urinary output of cadmium is an excellent means of assessing exposure, given normal renal function. Daily output of cadmium of 2 to 4 μg per 24- hour urine indicates toxicity (approximately 1–3 μg/g creatinine).

High hair cadmium is an indication of increased body burden. Elevated hair cadmium has been demonstrated in smokers. When a combination of high cadmium and low zinc is found, potential toxic effects may result because zinc competes for some protein binding sites that are sensitive to cadmium.

Associated Symptoms and Diseases:

Femoral pain, lumbago, osteopenia, renal dysfunction, hypertension, vascular disease


Industry, spray paint, tobacco smoke, car emissions, plants grown in cadmium-rich soil

Other sources:

– Drinking water

– Soft water (from galvanized pipes)

– Soft drinks from dispensing devices with galvanized plumbing

– Refined wheat flour

– Canned evaporated milk

– Processed foods

– Oysters, kidney, liver

– Cigarette smoke, tobacco products

– Superphosphate fertilizers

– Dental appliances

– Ceramic glazes

– Paint pigments

– Electroplating

– Silver polish

– Polyvinyl plastics

– Rubber carpet backing

– Nickel-Cadmium batteries

– Rust-proofing materials

Higher levels:

Toxicity symptoms:

Femoral pain, lumbago, osteopenia, renal dysfunction, hypertension, vascular disease.

Identify and avoid exposure to the toxic element.

The toxic effects of cadmium may be reduced by specific dietary components or supplements such as vitamins E and C and carotenoids, as well as the botanical black cumin seeds, and if indicated, vitamin D. Repletion in iron and the amino acids comprising the glutathione tripeptide is recommended. Supplementation with zinc and selenium salts also can reverse inhibitory effects of cadmium on human peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation and cytokine release.


The information on is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

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