Are You Mercury Toxic?
Mercury exposure and toxicity is a prevalent and significant public health threat. A well-established neurotoxin — a substance that is damaging to the brain and nervous system — mercury has been linked with brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and is potentially linked to autism.
Research shows that people with Alzheimer’s disease often have blood levels of mercury up to three times higher than people who are not suffering from the disease. In another study, researchers added small amounts of mercury to cultured neurons in a laboratory and found seven cell features that are used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Once it makes its way into our bodies, mercury can be difficult to eliminate. The symptoms of mercury excess, according to neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter, are similar to severe brain aging, because in a sense mercury is aging the brain. In his book, The Better Brain Book, Dr. Perlmutter states that “mercury does its dirty work by promoting free radical production and inflammation; this is the same process that causes normal brain degeneration, but mercury does it much faster.” Essentially, mercury exposure speeds the aging of the brain.
Infants are particularly vulnerable because they are unable to excrete mercury, so it accumulates in the brain cells, nerves, gut, and liver, and can cause the symptoms of poisoning.
Research links mercury exposure to heart arrhythmias and disorders. It has also been associated with neurological problems like tremors, insomnia, polyneuropathy (a degenerative disease of the nerves caused by toxins), paresthesias (prickling or tingling sensations of the nerves usually resulting from nerve damage), emotional instability or changeability, irritability, personality changes, headaches, weakness, blurred vision, dysarthria (difficulty communicating due to central nervous system disease), slowed mental response, and unsteady mobility.”
Symptoms of Mercury Excess:
• Allergic tendencies
• Depression or uncontrollable crying
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
• Facial and back pain
• Food cravings
• High blood pressure
• Inflamed gums
• Loss of ability to speak
• Loss of appetite
• Loss of self-confidence
• Memory loss
• Mental disturbances or personality changes
• Metallic taste in the mouth
• Poor memory
• Tremors or poor coordination
Of course, many of these symptoms can also be linked with other health conditions, so it is important to work with a qualified health professional. Conversely, it is possible to experience no symptoms of mercury toxicity. Typically, however, one or more of the above symptoms will be present.
Primary Sources of Mercury:
• Dental fillings (amalgam, or silver-looking fillings)
Mercury is emitted into the environment from coal-fired power plants, through medical waste incinerators, and trash incinerators. Once mercury makes its way into the air, it falls as rain into oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. Bacteria in the water break the mercury down into an organic form called methyl mercury, which is highly toxic. We may ingest this mercury through our water supply or from the fish found in these mercury-laden waters.
A diet high in fish, especially halibut, king mackerel, shark, swordfish, tilefish, white albacore tuna (both canned and fresh), and farmed salmon, makes it easy to exceed the EPA’s allowable amount of mercury in the body. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning advising pregnant women not to eat the fish with the highest levels of mercury because of the potential harm to their fetuses. Fish typically containing the lowest levels of mercury include sardines, haddock, wild or Pacific salmon, and tilapia.
Food sources are not the only culprits. There are two other common sources of mercury. One of the worst sources of mercury sits right beneath your nose. All those silvery-metallic dental fillings known as amalgams in your mouth contain mercury.
In the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, Dr. Mercola and Dr. Klinghardt state that people with amalgam fillings exceed all occupational exposure allowances of mercury in all European and North American countries. Adults with four or more amalgams run a significant health risk from the amalgam, while in children, as few as two amalgams will contribute to health problems.
Mercury is used as a preservative, called thimerosal, in vaccines. Of the vaccines that still contain mercury, the flu vaccine is the biggest concern. About 80 percent of flu vaccines contain as much as 25 micrograms of mercury per dose. The Environmental Protection Agency’s safe limit for mercury exposure is 0.1 micrograms per kilogram, so only a 550-pound person could receive a flu vaccine and fall within the EPA’s safe exposure limits for mercury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in 2004 that infants and pregnant women should be vaccinated with the flu shot. Yet, when a pregnant woman is vaccinated with the flu shot, her unborn child receives several hundred times more mercury than U.S. federal agencies claim is safe for adults. Even the vaccine manufacturers who profit from the sale of flu shots state that the vaccine hasn’t been adequately tested.