Mercury is a naturally occurring element that has several forms and is toxic. ALL MERCURY IS TOXIC. Exposure, even in small amounts, may cause serious health problems. Although we can be exposed to mercury through skin contact, breathing in vapors, natural gas, or even burning trash, the most common way people are exposed to mercury is through food... Seafood! Nearly ALL seafood contains methylmercury, a form of mercury. Ethylmercury (Thimerosal) is used in small amounts as a preservative in vaccines and some pharmaceuticals. Amalgam dental fillings have small amounts of liquid mercury, and some skin-lightening products contain a significant amount of inorganic mercury.
ALL MERCURY IS TOXIC
Some forms of mercury are indeed far more dangerous than others. The fact of the matter is ALL are toxic. According to W.H.O., Ethylmercury is broken down by the body quickly and does not accumulate.
But according to research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 22 studies from 1971 to 2019 show that exposure to ethylmercury-containing compounds and Thimerosal readily across the blood-brain barrier, convert, for the most part, to highly toxic inorganic mercury-containing compounds, which significantly and persistently bind to tissues in the brain, even in the absence of concurrent detectable blood mercury levels. (Source)
SO HOW DOES MERCURY AFFECT THE BODY?
Mercury is toxic to the nervous system and can harm the immune, digestive and nervous systems, kidneys, and lungs, and may be fatal. According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes, and GI tract and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested. Other symptoms include tremors, insomnia, headaches, motor dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, tremors, and neuromuscular effects.
Mercury is DANGEROUS to pregnant women. The National Research Council estimates that yearly about 60,000 children might be born with permanent, irreversible neurological problems because of mercury exposure before birth. Fetuses, infants, and young children are four to five times more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, and high levels of mercury can impair a child's physical and mental development, including motor skills, memory, and learning capacity. (Source)
Children under 14 are most sensitive to mercury and may be irreversibly damaged by it. Children can be exposed to methylmercury by eating fish and other types of seafood or if their mothers ate a considerable amount of fish before their birth. Breaking mercury-contained products such as thermometers used in homes and schools can also result in exposure to mercury. (Source)
BUT HOW CAN THIS BE WHEN SEAFOOD IS HEALTHY FOR THE BODY?
Essential fatty acids like Omega-3s are needed for our brain, nervous system, and cell membranes because they help regulate blood pressure, blood clotting, and homeostasis. They're labeled essential because we can't make them in our bodies, and we must get them from food. What's taught to us traditionally is you get the most Omega-3s from oily fish and fish oil; thus, fish is widely considered the "healthy meat." So when most people choose a healthier alternative and let go of "meat," they tend to stick with seafood assuming it's healthier and safer. EPA and DHA (Omega-3s) are found in oily fish, which they obtain from algae.
HERE'S WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU...
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods such as nuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, and more. It is thought to decrease the risk of heart disease and reduce blood clots. Once consumed, our bodies convert it into the longer chain Omega-3s DHA and EPA.
The US and UK guidelines recommend a small portion of oily fish should be consumed to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and death. The US recommends eating two servings (3 oz cooked) of fatty fish per week, and the UK recommends two 140g portions weekly. But some research tells a different story.
A 2018 review conducted by Cochrane, whose reviews are regarded as the highest standard in evidence-based research, found that increasing EPA and DHA from fish oil supplements or oily fish had little to no effect on heart health. Not only were these findings consistent with many other high-quality reviews, but they also found that ALA from plant foods actually may slightly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.
Another 2018 review published by the NCBI also found that higher ALA intake from plant foods was linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
SO, SHOULD YOU BE CONSUMING FISH?
What we've learned is nearly ALL seafood contains mercury, and ALL mercury is toxic! ALL OF THEM! Even when consumed in moderation, any amount, even the smallest, can harm the body. Your immune system and other organs may be working in your favor and filtering out those toxins, but this may not always be the case. You should consider intermittent fasting or doing our Iron Man Fast once a month to be proactive. Especially if you've been eating seafood your entire life. Mercury Toxicity is real and you could be creating the environment for it unknowingly. If you're interested in seeing how much mercury is in different seafood, click below to download the Mercury Levels Guide the FDA provides.
Did you know that fasting can help to eliminate toxins from the body? Did you know that implementing Burdock Root into your diet can help to reduce and eliminate mercury from your bloodstream? Check out our post on Burdock Root for more information.
Ultimately, seafood is not a safer alternative and is harmful to the body. Your choosing to consume it is your choice.
Kern JK, Geier DA, Homme KG, Geier MR. Examining the evidence that ethylmercury crosses the blood-brain barrier. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2020 Feb;74:103312. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2019.103312. Epub 2019 Dec 9. PMID: 31841767.