Three Best Ways to Avoid Mercury Toxicity Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mercury toxicity and what are the three best ways to limit your exposure?

Mer­cury expo­sure is an unfor­tu­nate real­i­ty in today’s indus­tri­al­ized world.

Mer­cury has many well-known health effects.  To begin with, it poi­sons the brain and is par­tic­u­lar­ly dam­ag­ing to devel­op­ing fetus­es and young chil­dren.

Most wor­ri­some is that no safe lev­el has ever been found for mer­cury expo­sure.

coal fired power plant

Jane High­tow­er, MD, a world author­i­ty on the tox­ic role of mer­cury, recent­ly shared impor­tant details about the role of envi­ron­men­tal mer­cury in an inter­view con­duct­ed by Earth Jus­tice.  Here’s a link to what she had to say:

What are some common mercury health effects?

If you suf­fer from excess mer­cury expo­sure, or are par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to it, you may expe­ri­ence symp­toms such as

  • fatigue
  • headache
  • mem­o­ry loss
  • trou­ble per­form­ing com­plex tasks
  • depressed mood
  • metal­lic taste in your mouth
  • joint or mus­cle pain
  • gas­troin­testi­nal upset
  • chest pain or pal­pi­ta­tions
  • dizzi­ness or faint-head­ed­ness, or
  • insom­nia.

If you expe­ri­ence a com­bi­na­tion of these, you should dis­cuss the symp­toms with your doc­tor. Of course, any of these symp­toms can occur with ill­ness­es unre­lat­ed to mer­cury poi­son­ing.

What can you do to limit your mercury exposure?

  1. Cur­tail your intake of fish, espe­cial­ly those fish at the top of the aquat­ic food chain that tend to have high­er mer­cury lev­els in their flesh.  It’s rec­om­mend­ed that you elim­i­nate your intake of those species at the top of the mer­cury scale alto­geth­er. (Or lim­it them to less than one serv­ing per month.)  These vari­eties include sword­fish, tile fish, king mack­er­el, and shark.You should also lim­it your intake of fish con­sid­ered to be medi­um high in their mer­cury con­cen­tra­tion (tuna, hal­ibut, grouper, north­ern pike, bass) to 4–5 ounces per week depend­ing on your body weight.  And if you’re preg­nant, nurs­ing, or might get preg­nant, these num­bers should be close to zero. It’s a darn shame, because in oth­er respects these fish could be a part of a healthy diet.  As an alter­na­tive, many peo­ple could ben­e­fit from a high qual­i­ty fish oil sup­ple­ment to get their com­ple­ment of essen­tial omega-3 fat­ty acids with­out the mer­cury.
  2. Don’t rush out to have the mer­cury in your den­tal fill­ings replaced.  It’s unclear if there’s any health ben­e­fit to replac­ing your exist­ing fill­ings — and the pro­ce­dure could even make your sit­u­a­tion worse by spilling more mer­cury into your blood stream dur­ing the extrac­tion process. On the oth­er hand, if you need a new fill­ing, or need to replace an old one, you should be able to find a den­tist today who doesn’t use mer­cury-laced amal­gam.
  3. A third major con­trib­u­tor to envi­ron­men­tal mer­cury is coal burn­ing pow­er plants.  In fact, burn­ing coal is the sin­gle largest human-gen­er­at­ed source of tox­ic mer­cury in water, air, soil, and the ocean.  As long as coal con­tin­ues to sup­ply 40–50% of our nation­al elec­tric­i­ty needs, there’s not too much you can do to avoid this mer­cury expo­sure.

But now you have a choice. In many states, con­sumers can opt to receive their elec­tric pow­er from a vari­ety of sup­pli­ers.  And you can also pur­chase renew­able ener­gy cred­its along with your elec­tric­i­ty, so that you know that your util­i­ty is get­ting your share of its sup­ply from renew­able sources.

Lim­it­ing your expo­sure to mer­cury is one more way you can take con­trol of your health and the health of the nation as a whole.


About Aaron Bynen

Aaron is a health conscious individual living in the Pacific Northwest.

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