Did you know that mercury is one of the only liquid metals found at room temperature? For that reason, scientists found it to be a very curious element, indeed. In fact, they were so curious that research extensively to learn more about its unique properties. Mercury can be added to tool manufacturing as well as other tools such as thermometers and fillings for dental cavities. It’s even used in household items such as light bulbs. Much of its use has fallen aside, but it can still be found in many forms, either elemental, organic, or inorganic. The reason that mercury has been shifted out of industrial processes and most household items is the harmful potential for exposure to it. Scientists found particular neurological damage that occurred the more people were exposed to it.
According to the CDC, organic mercury can be created when small organisms combine mercury with carbon. Consumption of these small organisms, including shellfish, can lead to heavy mercury toxicity and lead to nervous system damage. What is more concerning is just how a person can be exposed to mercury without even knowing it, and the risks associated with it. Research soon to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, has revealed a link between eating fish and the higher risk of developing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The research focused on patients with ALS and individuals who didn’t have it. They were interviewed on their eating habits regarding seafood. They also analyzed the mercury content in their toenail clippings and diet. Doctor Elijah Stommel of Dartmouth College, the author of the research, found that the purveyors of seafood had a higher risk of developing ALS. This research is extremely important as we continue to understand the impacts that mercury has had on the population. Examples of mercury toxicity have led to some finding that it is actually more dangerous than was initially thought of. The jury is still out on the organic mercury compound additive to vaccines, thimerosal, and its impact on autism rates in the United States. It is still very controversial. However, it is known that mercury contributes to central nervous system damage.
The key to reducing mercury exposure in your diet is to identify what seafood is higher on the food chain and avoid consuming them. Fish such as tuna, shark, mackerel and swordfish, all considered to be higher on the food chain, are known to have much higher levels of mercury in them. Choosing fish lower on the food chain can decrease exposure to mercury. Fish such as sardines and anchovies are examples of low-mercury seafood choices. An effective method for dealing with mercury toxicity is through detoxification, though mercury may be difficult to get rid of, it is best to do so with an integrative medicine specialist who is knowledgeable about it. IV chelation therapy is one of the best ways to detox from heavy metals such as mercury. Oral supplements can also be added as supportive elements to the chelation protocol. Sweating through infrared sauna use can also help tremendously. This contributes to the detoxification process and reduces the toxic load.
As a general rule that I use with my patients, limiting the amount of fish you eat will reduce overall mercury exposure. The best treatment is awareness, which can be in the form of a consultation with a specialist at The Salerno Center.