Mercury: Awesome But Deadly Metal

Mercury poisoning is a topic of concern these days, but do not give up if you have it - you can get mercury out of your body. It is tricky, but possible.

Mercury is found naturally in the environment in several forms, but there is little doubt that mercury has one of the most unique physical properties of all metals. In its elemental form, mercury is one of the most unusual metals of all metallic elements. It is a shiny, silver-white, liquid yet contained solid metal used in thermometers, dental amalgams, inoculations, and some electrical switches. It can be combined with other elements to form inorganic compounds, and due to its unique physical property of being neither a solid nor a liquid, mercury has the ability to escort any compound into the hair-like crevices of any substance.

Mercury is assertive, movable and bioaccumulative (retained in organisms). Most of the mercury found in the environment is inorganic so it can enter the air from several sources such as emissions of coal-fired power plants, the burning of municipal and medical wastes, and natural processes such as erosion of ores and volcanic activity.

Mercury can evaporate to form colorless, odorless vapors. Mercury can combine with organic material to form organic compounds such as methylmercury (MeHg) which is produced primarily by bacteria, and poses great concern for environmental (fish) exposure.

Health Dangers

Exposure to high levels of mercury can create health dangers in the following ways:

* Elemental mercury vapor can result in nervous system damage including tremors and mood and personality swings.
* Exposure to relatively high levels of inorganic mercury salts can cause kidney damage.
* Adult exposure to relatively high levels of methylmercury through fish consumption can result in numbness or tingling in the extremities, sensory losses, hormonal imbalances, and loss of coordination.
* Exposure by the developing fetus through maternal intake of contaminated fish can result in neurological developmental abnormalities in cognitive and motor functions.

The nature and severity of health symptoms depend on the amount of exposure.

Mercury From Fish

Methylmercury (an organic form of mercury) is spread through the food chain and is retained in the bodies of the animals exposed to it. It reaches its highest levels in large predatory fish, and in birds and mammals (humans) which consume the fish. Levels of methylmercury in fish are typically 100,000 times greater than the water in which they swim.

Mercury in the form of methylmercury is one of the greatest concerns to human beings (and domestic pets fed canned tuna), as the common route of exposure is ingestion. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations prohibit the sale of commercial fish that are found to have high concentrations of methylmercury. Also, state and federal authorities issue public health advisories when needed to warn people about eating fish caught from local waters that are contaminated with mercury.

Dental Amalgams

Mercury released from dental amalgam fillings can accumulate over time in the brain, pituitary gland, adrenals, and other parts of the body. Mercury from fillings in pregnant women has been shown to cause marked mercury accumulation in the brain, in the kidneys, and liver of human fetuses. Studies have shown that mercury can also be passed to infants through breast milk.

Some metals are necessary for body function as these are natural elements our bodies need. But most heavy metals are toxic when inorganic or at high levels, and can cause various disease syndromes, thyroid problems, learning disabilities, neurological problems, hormonal imbalances, and many other health issues. Mercury toxicity can damage the heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, adrenal glands, pituitary and thyroid glands.


Mercury Sources

Heavy metals can be found in food, the air, in buildings, clothes, machinery, drinking water, dental work, and cooking utensils. The following is a list of some of the more common sources of mercury:

* Adhesives
* Air conditioner filters
* Body powders
* Broken thermometer
* Cosmetics
* Dental fillings
* Diuretics
* Fabric softeners
* Felt floor waxes
* Polishes
* Fungicides
* Industrial wastes
* Inoculations
* Laxatives
* Mercurochrome
* Paints
* Photoengraving
* Psoriatic ointments
* Seafood
* Sewage disposal
* Skin lightening cream
* Tanning leather
* Tattooing
* Wood preservatives

Mercury poisoning often goes undetected for years because the symptoms presented within the body do not necessarily suggest mercury poisoning at first. Too many times, people justify health symptoms as due to stress when heavy metals are at the root of illness all along. Many factors determine risk from exposure including:

* The dose
* The duration
* The type of contact

Danger To Children

The developing fetus and young children are a higher risk population for mercury poisoning because mercury in the mother may enter the unborn child and the breast-feeding infant. Young children are at risk because their nervous systems are still developing and have a lower body weight compared to adults.

Exposure and health risks can be determined by measuring the amounts of mercury in the blood, urine, breast milk, and hair.

Since heavy metals are not metabolized by the body but accumulated in the tissues, many essential nutrients from the daily diet are prevented from being absorbed properly by the tissues through digestion. So what came first - bad digestion due to toxic metals or toxic metal build-up due to bad digestion? It may be hard to know for sure, but like a lead shield blocks dangerous X-rays, heavy metals within the human body block electrical signals (nerves), oxygen flow, nutrient intake, and the excretion of wastes, preventing the normal circulation of nutrients and their by-products.

So, it appears that the heavy metals provoke bad digestion, chronic inflammation, an increase in acidity, and a breakdown in the immune system, which can lead to chronic disease such as arthritis, Fibromyalgia, MS, and cancer.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of heavy metal toxicity include:

* Depression
* Headaches
* Digestive problems
* High blood pressure
* Fatigue
* Irregular heart beat
* Muscle pain
* Brain fog
* Constipation
* Hormonal imbalances

When considering a heavy metal detox program, it's important to check out all sources of mercury first. A qualified dentist who specializes in proper amalgam removal should remove any leaking dental amalgam fillings. Drink plenty of purified water, use only natural deodorants and cosmetics, avoid antacids and cigarette smoking, and replace aluminum cookware with stainless steel.

Detox often if exposed to roofing materials, petroleum products, or if you live or work near any place that emits or handles dangerous toxic chemicals.

Safe Detox Solutions

Some safe and effective methods of eliminating heavy metals are:

* Alpha Lipoic Acid serves as an antioxidant
* Apple pectin binds and eliminates heavy metals through the colon
* B3 Niacin eliminates toxins from the blood through the pores of the skin
* Cilantro binds to remove metals through the urine
* Chlorella and sea algae bind and remove toxins while replacing critical minerals and nutrients
* Digestive enzymes increase elimination of toxins through the bowels
* French Green Clay binds and eliminates metallic substances and microbes through the colon
* Milk Thistle stimulates detoxification within the liver and supports the liver while cleansing and detoxifying
* Vitamin C binds and eliminates toxins through the urine

Mercury Detoxification

Read more about mercury poisoning and mercury detoxification.

Posted January 2004 | Permanent Link

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