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A naturally occurring silvery-white metal smelted from the ore, Bauxite. Because of its chemical form, aluminium never occurs in the metallic form in nature, but its compounds are present to varying degrees in almost all rocks, vegetation, and animals.

Despite being the most abundant metallic element, constituting 8.1 percent of the Earth's crust there is no dietary requirement for aluminium.

As a food additive it is used solely for external decoration where it can be found in the covering of dragées and the decoration of sugar-coated flour confectionery, in cake decorations and to give a silvery finish to pills and tablets.

However, it is also added to the tap water drinking supply in some areas to remove discoloration and is widely available in antacid treatments. It can also be ingested from soft drinks in aluminium cans used past their sell-by dates, when the aluminium content of the drink has been found to exceed the limits laid down by the EC for drinking water, and by the use of aluminium pots and pans and cooking utensils.

There is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that an accumulation of aluminium in the cells of the nervous system could be potentially toxic. It is found in abnormally high levels in the brain cells of Alzheimer's disease sufferers, accumulated in the neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques, but it is not yet known whether it has a causative or resultant role in the disease.

Several reports also suggest that a high aluminium intake may have adverse effects on the metabolism of phosphorous and calcium in the human body and may induce or intensify skeletal abnormalities such as osteoporosis.

Increased urinary excretion of magnesium and calcium has been reported following regular antacid use.

Not permitted in Australia.