The Invisible Epidemic
When we have mercury toxicity this can be referred to as the “invisible epidemic” because the impact is not noticed straight away but rather over time.
Basically, if we are taking in more mercury faster than we can excrete it, it builds up in our body and causes many negative effects.
The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report states that about 85% of fish caught is consumed by humans as a healthier option for improved cardiovascular function. Fish is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids keeping the heart and brain in good shape but eating too much of the wrong fish can be harmful too.
There’s nothing wrong with eating fish but over consumption of contaminated fish is the main cause of mercury toxicity (but let’s face it, NO amount of mercury is truly safe for humans!).
You’ve probably heard of mercury toxicity and exposure to mercury can lead to metal poisoning. Avoid fishes that have high mercury levels such as king mackerel, shark, tilefish, bigeye tuna, marlin, orange roughy and swordfish. Other causes include exposure at work and amalgam based dental fillings. This is an increasing public health issue that needs to be addressed right away. Be fully aware of the common symptoms and effects of mercury toxicity and start educating yourself on how you can prevent it especially if you are a big fish eater.
The mercury in Tuna FAR outweighs its potential health benefits!
Mercury is known as one of the most toxic metals that exist in the world and countless studies have shown its negative effects to human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) consider mercury as one of the top ten chemicals that causes major health problems. It can cause problems for the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as problems to the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
Mercury can lower T-cell counts causing cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases and allergies. It’s not fun at all to experience any of these illnesses and pregnant women are advised not to eat fish that contains mercury as this can have some negative effects to her health and her baby’s health.
Signs and symptoms of mercury toxicity include:
- Muscle weakness, atrophy or chronic fatigue
- Lack of muscle coordination/muscle twitching
- Impairment of peripheral vision
- Impaired speech
- Disturbed bodily sensations
- Decreased cognition
- Mood swings, nervousness, irritability and other emotional changes
Consumer Reports states that mercury is high in canned tuna and it is even worse than fresh fish. The FDA conducted research on this and found out that canned tuna especially white, tends to be high in mercury. This is not surprising considering that canned goods undergo process and preservatives are added to maintain its freshness.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately for a checkup; you might like to jump online and order a hair test (this is the most accurate way to test for heavy metals in your system).
This is not something to be taken lightly. The key to limiting your risk to mercury toxicity by simply choosing the right fish and knowing the source of your fish.
What is Methylmercury?
Methylmercury is the most common type of mercury we ingest and this is the most prevalent in seafood.
A fetus can be greatly harmed if the mother is ingesting/consuming large amounts of toxic fish (especially tuna seeing it’s the most common and readily available).
According to the PMC (journal of Preventative Medicine): “Methylmercury is a hazardous substance that is of interest with regard to environmental health, as organic mercury circulating in the general environment is dissolved into freshwater and seawater, condensed through the food chain, ingested by humans and consequently affects human health.”
How to Detox Mercury
If you suspect high levels of mercury consumption in your body, get tested to address the problem. No need to fret because there are ways where you can reduce mercury exposure and also a detox from mercury is one way to eliminate it from your body. You may also want to consider adding the following to your diet:
- Chlorella (concentrated green algae): chlorella can reduce mercury and help it exit the body
- Spirulina (concentrated green algae): spirulina can greatly reduce mercury and help it exit the body
- Coriander can displace heavy metals and remove from the body
- Avoid eating dairy, sugar and grains (especially wheat) because when you’re detoxing it’s really best to avoid these types of foods.
- Do NOT fast while you’re trying to remove mercury from your body.
- Eat a large amount of lean protein while detoxing mercury (just make sure it’s not toxic fish)
- Take the right nutrients (see below)
Get both Organic Chlorella and Organic Spirulina in one Here.
Nutrients That Help Support the Detox Process
Zinc & Selenium
When we have adequate levels of zinc and selenium in our body this can help to protect our cells from mercury damage, that’s because mercury binds to zinc and selenium.
But remember not to overdo it these two as too high levels can also be toxic for your health.
The safe level for zinc is different for different age groups so please see the table below:
The safe level for selenium is different for different age groups so please see the table below:
Vitamin E helps to fight the free radical damage that mercury causes when it’s broken down into methylmercury.
To help reduce cell injury caused by methylmercury try to eat more foods that contain pyruvate such as apples, other fruits and organ meats.
Glutathione is a combo of 3 amino acids – cysteine, glycine and glutamine. It has the ability to block methylmercury toxicity.
Eat more fresh foods such as vegetables and meats to get glutathione into your body naturally. Reduce or cut out any food that comes from a can as canned foods contain much lower levels of glutathione (not too mention that they often also contain BPAs)!
Cysteine, Methionine & Cruciferous Veggies
Eating cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage may help prevent the buildup of mercury in the body as mercury binds to sulfur-containing amino acids.
Foods that are high in cysteine are soy beans, beef, lamb, sunflower seeds, chicken, oats, pork, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes and kamut.
Methionine is a heavy metal binding protein. Consuming this can help lower the chance of liver damage as it may reduce methylmercury.
This acid acts as a chelator of heavy metals (a chelator is an agent that binds to heavy metals so that they’re safely excreted from the body).
Alpha-Lipoic acid may also boost glutathione in our cells.
If it’s Omega-3s you’re looking for it’s definitely best to steer clear of swordfish, tuna and other big fish. Try plant-based sources for your Omega-3 fats such as:
It cannot be stressed enough! Make sure you’re getting adequate protein as a diet low in protein may actually worsen mercury’s harmful neurological effects.
FACTS ABOUT FISH CONSUMPTION
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report:
- About 85% of fish caught is used for human consumption.
- The remainder is converted into fishmeal (mainly for high-protein feed) and fish oil (as a feed additive in aquaculture).
- In 2013, fish accounted for about 17% of the global population’s intake of animal protein.
- A portion of 150g of fish can provide up to 60% of an adult’s daily protein requirements as well as healthy fats like Omega 3.
- In 2013, fish provided 3.1 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein.
- In some countries, fish accounts for more than 25% of animal protein intake.
- In general, people in developing countries and especially those in coastal areas are much more dependent on fish as a staple food than those in the developed world.
- Asia has the highest consumptions of seafood as a continent, combining high per-person consumptions with large populations.