Mercury Toxicity

Most people are mercury toxic. Mercury is among the most toxic elements known. In this article, I reveal how to reduce exposure and remove it from our bodies.

Mercury in our environment is contributing to countless chronic health problems today, especially for those who:

  • Eat fish or shellfish at least twice weekly
  • Has had or has mercury amalgam fillings
  • Get vaccinations

As a result of all this exposure, most children today are born with excessive mercury in their bodies. Mercury is a factor in increasing birth defect rates, autism and other developmental delays, ADHD and other learning disorders. Mercury easily passes through the placenta from mother to child.  This source (congenital mercury) can be reduced if women reduce their mercury burden before becoming pregnant.

SOURCES OF MERCURY

There are three different kinds of mercury:

  • Organic (methylmercury): Methylmercury is naturally occurring and bioaccumulates in the environment, especially in fish. As a result, most human exposure to organic mercury comes from eating fish (17, 19).
  • Inorganic: Inorganic mercury is most typically found as a white powder and can be found in products such as disinfectants and fungicides (19).
  • Elemental mercury: This is form of mercury is a metallic, silvery liquid and what you would find in a thermometer (19).  It’s also found in dental amalgams (17). According to the NY state Department of Environmental Conservation, elemental mercury “is a potent neurotoxin that impacts the central nervous system” (19).

Mercury can invade our body in many ways. Here are a just a few of the sources in which it lurks:

  • Dental mercury amalgam fillings (15)
  • Fish and shellfish (especially tuna, shark and other large fish) (15, 17, 18)
  • Vaccines (18)
  • Disinfectants (19)
  • Fungicides (15, 19)
  • Soft contact lens solution and eye drops to reduce redness
  • Latex and oil-based paints
  • Nasal sprays
  • Adhesives (15)
  • Air conditioner filters
  • Air pollution (coal burning) (18, 19)
  • Algaecides
  • Antiseptics
  • Battery manufacturing
  • Body powders
  • Bleached flour
  • Broken thermometers
  • Burning of building materials
  • Calomel lotions
  • Some Chinese herbs
  • Cleaners including Ajax, Lysol, Comet, Derma Scrub, Dove Soap, Ivory Liquid
  • Chlorine and chlorine bleach (15)
  • Coal burning (this is how mercury is released into the environment)
  • Congenital intoxication (acquired in utero)
  • Cosmetics
  • Diuretics
  • Dyes
  • Embalming fluid
  • Engraving supplies
  • Exhaust fumes
  • Fabric softeners (15)
  • Felt (15, 19)
  • Fertilizers
  • Industrial waste (15)
  • Inks
  • Laxatives
  • Lumber
  • Paints
  • Paper manufacturing
  • Medications
  • Photo engraving
  • Preparation H
  • Psoriasis ointment
  • Sewage disposal and sludge (15)
  • Skin lightening creams
  • Tattoos
  • Water (contaminated)
  • Waxes (including floor) (15)
  • Wood preservatives

Medications

Mercury can be found in many prescription, over-the-counter drugs and personal care products.  Mercury is used because it is an excellent germ killer. The most important include vaccines. These may contain thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative.

Thiazide diuretics, used to lower blood pressure, contain mercury.  Other products that may contain mercury include antiseptics, anti-fungal preparations, soaps, contact lens solutions, etc.

Dental Materials

Studies demonstrate that each time one bites down on a mercury filling, some mercury vapor, the most dangerous form of mercury, enters the body.  The amount that escapes is tiny, but it occurs thousands of times each day. Mercury fillings that have been in your mouth for more than 15 years degrade at a faster rate. This mercury vapor travels directly to bodily tissues and the brain, an organ easily damaged by mercury. (15, 17)

Large Fish And Shellfish

The major source of mercury exposure for most are fish and seafood.  In particular, large fish that eat smaller fish concentrate mercury up to one million times in their body fat and other tissues. Tuna fish is the most widely enjoyed toxic fish.  However, all fish, no matter what their size, are contaminated with mercury.

Shellfish, including clams, mussels, oysters, lobster and shrimp all tend to have mercury and other toxic metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, and even radioactive waste and other contaminants.  This makes them basically unfit for human consumption.

Learn more about how to choose safe seafood in Wendy’s Seafood Survival Guide.

Industry

Mercury is used in industry and manufacturing as a germicide, fungicide, an electrical conductor and more.  These industries include electronics, gold mining and the manufacture of paper, chlorine, adhesives, fabric softeners and waxes.

SYMPTOMS

Hundreds of symptoms may be due to chronic mercury toxicity.  The organ most affected is often the brain, and children suffer the most from many mercury-related disorders.

Here is a long list of symptoms and conditions that may be associated with mercury:

  • Acne
  • Acid Reflux – mercury is a proton pump inhibitor, which reduces stomach acid
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Allergies – leaky gut via gut dysbiosis caused by mercury (17)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Amylotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Aneurysm
  • Anger
  • Anorexia (9, 15)
  • Anxiety (9, 17, 18)
  • Apathy
  • Asthma
  • Ataxia (15, 17)
  • Autism (11)
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Arterial sclerosis  – Mercury activates an enzyme called phospholipase D (PLD) in cells, which line blood vessel walls (endothelial cells). This activation causes the release of phosphatidic acid which damages the cells.(2) These damaged cells then accumulate cholesterol-based plaque leading to arterial sclerosis.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Birth defects (15, 19)
  • Blushing (15)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Brain Fog (17)
  • Bruising
  • Bruxism – Grinding Teeth While Sleeping
  • Bulimia
  • Calcium, Elevated Blood
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue (18)
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Coronary Vascular Disease – Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) study: 2,005 men without heart disease are divided into four groups based on hair-mercury content and tracked for an average of 12 years. Those in the top 25 percent for hair mercury had a 60% increased risk of death from CVD. Those same men had a 70% increased risk of coronary heart disease.(8)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Depression (15, 17, 18)
  • Dermatitis (15, 19)
  • Developmental delays (19)
  • Dizziness (15)
  • Dysarthria (characterized by slurred or slow speech due to weakness or poor control over the muscles used for speech) (15, 17, 19)
  • Dysbiosis – mercury kills good gut bacteria
  • Enlarged Prostate (Elevated DHT)
  • Fatigue (9, 15, 17)
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Floaters In the Eyes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastritis
  • Hair loss (Balding—Elevated DHT) (17)
  • Headaches (9, 15)
  • Hearing loss (15, 17)
  • Heart Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Homocysteine, Elevated (increases risk of heart disease)
  • Hormonal dysregulation including abnormal menstrual cycles and infertility (17)
  • Hyperactivity (15, 18)
  • Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia
  • Hyperacusis (sensitivity to certain sounds)
  • Hypertension (17)
  • Immune Suppression/ Immune System Dysfunction (15)
  • Insomnia (15, 19)
  • Iodine Deficiency
  • Irritability (19)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • Kidney Damage (15, 19)
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Lupus
  • Manic Depressive Disorder
  • Memory Loss (15, 19)
  • Mole Formation (especially on the neck, underarms, inner thighs, and feet)
  • Mood Swings (15, 19)
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) (17)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscle Tremors (9, 15, 17, 19)
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness (15)
  • Numbness and tingling or “Pins and Needles” Sensation (15, 19)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Oily Skin (Elevated DHT)
  • Pain
  • Panic attacks
  • Paresthesis or neuropathy (17)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Phobias
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light from weak iris response)
  • Rashes (15, 19)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Salivating, Excessive
  • Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders (15)
  • Sciatica
  • Excessive Shyness (9, 19)
  • Sleep Disorders (9, 17)
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Spider Veins
  • Selenium Deficiency
  • Thyroid Disorders like Hypothyroidism (15)
  • Tinnitus (Ringing In the Ears)
  • Transient ischemia attacks or stroke (17)
  • Vision Impairment, loss Of peripheral vision (by altering interocular fluid eye pressure) (9, 15, 19)
  • Vitamin C Deficiency
  • Weakness in muscles (15)
  • Weight Gain
  • White Coating On the Tongue
  • Yeast Syndrome/Candida
  • Zinc Deficiency

DETECTION

Blood tests are practically useless to detect mercury unless you’ve had a recent exposure because the body removes mercury from the blood to store it away from vital organs.  Mercury is stored in the tissues of the brain, kidneys and liver. The best methods of detection for mercury are hair mineral analysis and urine metals push tests using chelating agents that favor mercury.

Hair Mineral Analysis

As any amount of mercury is toxic, even small amounts of mercury on an HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis) is undesirable. Any hair level of mercury above 0.02 mg% is excessive.  Mercury does not always deposit into the hair to show on an HTMA.  A hair mineral analysis provides many indicators of hidden mercury toxicity even if mercury itself is not presenting on an HTMA.  These include:

  • An elevated copper above about 2.5 mg%. Mercury toxicity is usually found if copper toxicity is present.
  • Hidden copper toxicity indicators such as a high hair calcium, a low hair potassium, a low sodium/potassium ratio and a low zinc level.  For more on copper, read Copper Toxicity Syndrome.
  • Elevated levels of cadmium, arsenic or aluminum often indicate the presence of hidden mercury.

 Urine Tests

A Urine Metals Push test is another way to detect the presence of mercury. Some people are not able to detox mercury into the hair. By using chelators like DMSA or cilantro extract, you can ‘push’ mercury, and many metals not on an HTMA, into the urine and get a good picture of the body burden of mercury. I prefer to use both methods, urine and hair mineral analysis, to determine one’s toxicity levels.

REDUCING EXPOSURE

Reduce Fish In Your Diet

To reduce mercury exposure, completely avoid tuna fish and larger species of fish.  Other fish known to be high in mercury include sea bass, marlin, shark, halibut, pike, walleye, swordfish and bass.  Also, it is best to avoid slightly less contaminated fish such as mahi mahi, cod, pollack, salmon from the Great Lakes, channel catfish (wild) and lake whitefish.

Fish that are considered safer include trout (farmed), catfish (farmed), fish sticks, flounder (summer), sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon (wild Pacific), croaker and haddock.

Learn more about how to choose safe seafood in Wendy’s Seafood Survival Guide.

Avoid All Shellfish

Mercury is just one reason to avoid all shellfish, even though they are tempting and formerly were one of my favorite foods.  Shellfish are also often high in cadmium, nickel, arsenic, aluminum and many toxic metals found in the coastal shelves of every nation.

Vaccines

I recommend that everyone avoid vaccines, including flu shots.  Flu shots, the MMR vaccine and a few others can still be preserved with thimerosal, which contains mercury.  Read ingredient labels on vaccines prior to submitting. Most doctors and nurses do not know if their vaccines contain thimerosal or other preservatives, so asking your doctor is often not reliable. To read more about why you should avoid vaccines, read my article Vaccines Cause Chronic Immune System Dysregulation.

Replace Dental Amalgams

I advise anyone with mercury amalgam fillings to have them replaced, preferably by a biological dentist. I don’t recommend doing this all at once, but doing a few fillings at a time in stages. Mercury amalgams undoubtably leach mercury into your body, but also contain nickel, tin, aluminum and sometimes palladium – all toxic metals. Mercury fillings older than 15 years ten to leach more metals into the body as they become less stable over time.

REDUCING MERCURY IN YOUR BODY  

Mineral Power is a proven method to remove mercury from your body, in addition to all toxic metals and hundreds of chemicals.  It does this by the following methods used in an integrated way that safely and completely detoxes the body.  These methods include:

1) Infrared Saunas.  The skin is the largest organ of the body and an excellent eliminative route for mercury.  The best way I have found to enhance skin elimination is daily use of an infrared sauna for several years.  After this period, one only needs to use a sauna several times a week. (8)

2) Mineral Supplement Antagonists.  Mercury antagonists such as selenium, zinc, chromium and manganese assist to remove mercury from the body. Selenium is the most important to remove mercury. I have found that almost everyone I rest is deficient in selenium.

3) Binders.  Mercury can be removed by use of Pectasol- C, which is modified citrus pectin. This natural product is amazing at absorbing metals like mercury that are mobilized on a Mineral Power program.

4) Chelators.  Chelators bind to metals to remove them from the body. Chelators effective for mercury are cilantro extract, Intestinal Metal Detox by Quicksilver, Super R-Lipoic Acid, Curcumin, garlic and N-Acetyl Cysteine. I recommend these to anyone with mercury toxicity.

DMSA is a synthetic chelator that is needed by some people to aid in the removal of mercury and other metals attracted to this chelator (12). Mercury can be difficult to remove from the body – especially if a client is ill, has multiple health conditions, has methylation issues or has weak eliminative detox organs like liver and kidneys. I personally found that natural means were not enough to remove the large amount of mercury I had in my body. I used DMSA to remove the remaining mercury in my body after detoxing using natural methods for four years.

DMSA chelation is shown to reduce autistic symptoms in patients as the blood levels of lead and mercury decrease (11). A 2012 study conculded that, “DMSA chelation increased the urinary output of toxic and neurotoxic metals. Our data supports evidence that detoxification treatment with oral DMSA has beneficial effect on Autism Spectrum Disorder patients.” (14).

Everyone needs to be aware of mercury in their diet and environment and take preventive steps to reduce exposure and mercury levels currently in their bodies. By combining the above methods employed by a Mineral Power Protocol, mercury can be removed slowly and safely.

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References
1. Casdorph, H.R. and Walker, M., Toxic Metal Syndrome, Avery Publishing, New York, 1995.
2. Dental Truth Magazine, published by DAMS International, 1079 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55101, (800) 311-6265.
3. Droesti, I.E. and Smith, R., Neurobiology of the Trace Elements, Vol II, Neurotoxicology and Neuropharmacology, Humana Press, 1983.
4. Huggins, H., It’s All In Your Head, The Link Between Mercury fillings And Your Health, Avery Publishing, NY, 1993.
5. Pfeiffer, C., Mental And Elemental Nutrients, Keats Publishing, Ct., 1972.
6. Schroeder, H.A., The Trace Elements And Man, Devin-Adair Company, Old Greenwich, Ct., 1973.
7. Wilson and Eck, Toxic Metals In Human Health And Disease, Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergeteics, Ltd., Phoenix, AZ, 1989.
8. Wilson, Sauna Therapy, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc., 2006. http://drlwilson.com/articles/sauna_therapy.htm
9. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Health Effects of Mercury Exposure.” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mercury/docs/HealthEffectsMercury.pdf

10. Sandborgh Englund G, Dahlqvist R, Lindelöf B, Söderman E, Jonzon B, Vesterberg O, Larsson KS. “DMSA administration to patients with alleged mercury poisoning from dental amalgams: a placebo-controlled study.” J Dent Res. 1994 Mar;73(3):620-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8163732

11. Yassa HA. “Autism: a form of lead and mercury toxicity.” Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Nov;38(3):1016-24. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2014.10.005. Epub 2014 Nov 6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25461563

12. Cao Y, Skaug MA, Andersen O, Aaseth J.”Chelation therapy in intoxications with mercury, lead and copper.” J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015;31:188-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.04.010. Epub 2014 May 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24894443

13. Rafati-Rahimzadeh M, Rafati-Rahimzadeh M, Kazemi S, Moghadamnia AA. “Current approaches of the management of mercury poisoning: need of the hour.” Daru. 2014 Jun 2;22:46. doi: 10.1186/2008-2231-22-46. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24888360

14. Blaucok-Busch E, Amin OR, Dessoki HH, Rabah T.”Efficacy of DMSA Therapy in a Sample of Arab Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.” Maedica (Buchar). 2012 Sep;7(3):214-21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23400264

15. Analytical Research Labs. “Mercury.” http://www.arltma.com/Articles/MercuryToxDoc.htm

16. Kresser, Chris. “Mercury Toxicity, Kids & Fish Consumption.” January 28, 2016. http://chriskresser.com/mercury-toxicity-kids-fish-consumption/

17. Amy Nett, MD. “Could Mercury Toxicity Be Causing Your Symptoms?” August 11, 2015. http://chriskresser.com/could-mercury-toxicity-be-causing-your-symptoms/

18. Dr. Marcola. “What You Need to Know About the Different Forms of Mercury, the Next Generation of Mercury Testing, and How to Detox Safely.” January 6, 2013. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/06/dr-shade-on-mercury-exposure.aspx

19. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “What Do You Know About Mercury?” http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/28716.html

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Wendy Myers, FDN, CHHC, is a functional diagnostic nutritionist, certified holistic health coach and founder of Live to 110. Her passions include getting you healthy, Modern Paleo, retoxing and detoxing. Discover her Mineral Power Program and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with metal detox.

  • Great article. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • Diane

    Great article! Thanks for this overview and the helpful warnings and tips.

    Could you find another link to replace http://www.mercuryexposure.com/? Nothing is at that address now.