It’s May and the Mercury is rising.

Mercury poisoning has been plaguing society for centuries.

FTR Mercury PoisoningIt has been found in the tombs of Egyptian mummies, in recipes for life giving elixirs from the ancient Chinese, and in the cosmetics of the Romans.

Our curiosity with mercury led to the toxic metal becoming a staple in medicines worldwide – which subsequently led to the deaths of those who could afford the liquid silver.

While the myth of mercury has made its way out of modern medicine, mercury poisoning is still a modern concern. The consequences of industry upon the environment have caused mercury poisoning to become a global crisis.

As mercury is released into the atmosphere, it is primarily reabsorbed by the oceans and, subsequently, by the micro-plankton at the bottom of the food chain. Through a process called bio-magnification, the levels of mercury increase as you move up the food chain. In the predatory fish that find their way to our table, the mercury levels have often increased to toxic levels.

These toxic levels of mercury can have extremely damaging effects on your health. Mercury poisoning can cause extreme birth defects in children caused by the levels of mercury in their mother’s bloodstream. This includes developmental disorders – such as Asperger’s, ADD and possibly autism – along with severe physical disabilities.

Although the symptoms of mercury poisoning in adults take longer to develop, they can be equally as life-threatening.

Symptoms are wide ranging and can include irreversible neurological damage, neuropathy, seizures and blindness. However, because of the insidious nature of mercury poisoning it is often misdiagnosed – due to its non-specific symptoms and because of a lack of awareness within the medical community. Furthermore, the global scale of the fishing industry means that the regulation of mercury levels is very difficult. This means that certain fish in your supermarket will contain toxic levels of mercury. They will carry no warning labels or health advisories, but are still extremely dangerous.

Because of this, self-regulation is the only recourse for my patients. Government agencies in the US and UK recommend limiting your intake of fish to twice a week – and completely removing larger fish such a shark, swordfish, cazón and marlin from your diet. This is especially important in high-risk groups such as pregnant mothers, women who plan on becoming pregnant, and children under 17.

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This call was echoed by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition, following the 2019 discovery that the Spanish have more mercury in their bodies than any other European nationality.

This is not only due to the high consumption of fish in the country, but also the popularity of canned tuna. One study even looked at the specific mercury content of cans of Spanish light tuna, which supposedly has a lower mercury content that is safe to consume, and instead found the mercury level to be high and variable.

When it comes to mercury, a zero level is a ‘normal’ level. As long as you eat food that contains mercury, you are putting your body at risk. Ask your doctor to check your mercury levels today.

If you want to find out more about mercury levels in marine animals, view the Oscar winning documentary of The Cove . Also read Diagnosis Mercury: Money, Politics and Poison by Dr. Jane Hightower for a science-based argument to raise awareness of mercury poisoning.

(News/Feature: Mecury Poisoning)

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