As a practitioner, I get asked all of the time about the pro’s and con’s of eating fish. First of all, let me preface this blog with the fact that I indeed eat fish, and plenty of it. Consuming fish can have a lot of health benefits; however, certain types of fish can have toxic levels of mercury. Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal found in small traces of everyday foods and products. However, the trace amounts aren’t substantial enough to cause poisoning. Fish and shellfish are linked to higher levels of mercury due to mercury in the water. In some instances, mercury poisoning can occur. Here is all you need to know about mercury poisoning, its symptoms, and how to treat it.
What Is Mercury Poisoning?
Consuming contaminated seafood is the leading source of toxic mercury exposure. Methylmercury is the form of mercury people in the United States encounter most frequently. Mercury gets into the environment through multiple unknown and known ways, including industrial processes or natural events.
Once in the air, the mercury eventually settles into surrounding bodies of water. Seaplants, like algae, absorb the mercury in the water, and fish eat the contaminated algae. Mercury can build up in the bodies of fish in the form of methylmercury. The amount of mercury in seafood depends on the species. Overall, larger and longer-lived fish contain higher levels of mercury.
Mercury Levels in Seafood
Eating seafood that contains toxic levels of mercury results in mercury poisoning. Long-term mercury exposure can cause permanent health problems and neurological damage. Mercury levels in fish are measured as parts per million (PPM). The FDA monitors mercury levels in the most commonly commercially consumed seafood. Here are the top 5:
- Tilefish (from Gulf of Mexico) – 1.123 PPM
- Swordfish – 0.996 PPM
- Shark – 0.979 PPM
- Mackerel King – 0.73 PPM
- Tuna – 0.689 PPM
Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning
The symptoms of mercury poisoning can take weeks or months to appear. Once mercury gets into your bloodstream, it can take months or even a year to leave the body. The most commonly experienced symptoms of mercury poisoning are:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Changes in vision, hearing, or speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness in hands and face
The only way to diagnose mercury poisoning is through a medical professional. We can perform an exam and examine blood, urine, or stool to determine if you have high levels of mercury, and provide you the action plan to eliminate it from your body.
Health Risks and Complications
Mercury poisoning tends to slowly develop in those who are in frequent contact with the metal. Prolonged mercury exposure can lead to serious health problems. The most common complications associated with mercury poisoning are:
- Neurological problems
- Decrease in motor skills
- Nerve damage
- Negative reproductive effects
- Increased risk of heart attacks
Mercury poisoning is curable and treatable. When diagnosed with mercury poisoning, the health professional will ask about your environment and eating habits to determine the cause.
Treating Mercury Poisoning At Biocure
Experiencing any of the symptoms of mercury poisoning can be uncomfortable, and the health risks linked to it can be detrimental. Biocure offers exams to check your mercury levels, and we can help with mercury detox and treat the illness with chelation IVs. Contact us to book an exam today and start feeling like your optimal self again.