Mercury Poisoning Symptoms: Could Fish Be the Culprit?

Dr. Isaac Jones Non-Toxic Lifestyle Leave a Comment

by Dr. Isaac Jones

Mercury Poisoning Fish

My mom and her friends used to play with mercury as kids. As she got older she didn’t realize that her health challenges were due to mercury poisoning symptoms.

I’m not sure where they would get the mercury as kids – maybe a broken thermometer – but she’s shared the stories with me of how they would gather together and pass the mercury around with their bare hands!

Just the thought makes me queasy.

After working with high performers for the last 7 years, I know full well that mercury is extremely dangerous and mercury poisoning symptoms are very real.

Most people are not aware of how easy it is to get exposed to mercury (unnecessarily!). We can usually trace mercury poisoning symptoms back to one of two places:

1- Amalgam (“Silver”) Fillings

These can be dental fillings that you either have personally, or even if your mother had them while she was pregnant with you (or before that), it can cause elevated mercury levels and mercury poisoning symptoms.

This is just one reason why I hate mercury fillings. They cause harm for the most fragile of human life (unborn babies) and they pose long term health challenges.

I always make it a priority to work with my clients to have them removed properly (there is a specific protocol) so that they can start functioning at higher levels.

I really want to highlight the importance of having mercury fillings removed properly.

If you’re someone that has mercury fillings, please don’t just go and have them removed from anyone. You can create unnecessary exposure to the mercury and cause much more damage long term.

2- High Mercury Fish

This is very counterintuitive because most people think that all fish healthy. But this isn’t true.

Some fish are very high in mercury and can cause mercury poisoning symptoms over time.  They should be avoided.

Even though the mercury in fish is a little different from the mercury in dental fillings, both are very dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible.

So, how does mercury get into our fish?

Throughout the world coal is still the most widely used source of energy. This is probably because it’s cheap. Each year, over 33 tons of mercury is released into the atmosphere from power plants (2).

Coal is burned up into the atmosphere and then mercury rains down into the environment. The mercury gets into bodies of water like oceans and lakes from the rain and then it also gets into the fish.

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Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning

When we talk about elevated mercury levels, the term “poisoning” is a little misleading. Most people associate the term poisoning with an acute exposure of some kind.

But this isn’t the most common type of mercury poisoning. What we see more often is that people have repeated exposures to low levels of mercury (such as amalgam fillings or from fish). 

Over time the body retains more and more of this heavy metal and this bioaccumulation can lead to serious health issues and even chronic disease.

Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Here are just some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning from chronic, low-level exposure:

  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Autoimmne Challenges
    Digestive Issues
  • Weight Loss Resistance
  • Hormone Disruption
  • Neurological/Nervous System Issues

This is why it’s so important to have a good understanding of fish and how to select species that have very low levels of mercury.

Should I Just Stop Eating Fish Altogether?

You may be wondering…since I’m sure you want to avoid effects of mercury poisoning symptoms. The short answer is no. You can (and should still eat fish), you just have to be very selective when you do so.

The thing is, fish provides many healthy benefits. Here’s just 3 reasons why most people should include fish in their diet:

1 – It’s packed with healthy Omega-3 fats that are hard to find from whole-food sources.

2 – It’s a lean source of protein and an alternative to chicken and beef

3- Fish are great sources of iodine, Vitamin D and Selenium (all are deficient in the typical Western diet)

Omega-3: The Benefits and the Challenge

The reason why many people go for fish in the first place is because of the Omega-3.

Omega-3 fats are very important for overall health and well-being and most people are deficient. As you may have heard, Omega-3 fats support cardiovascular health as well as brain and nervous system function.

The challenge is that most people are deficient in Omega-3 because most people eat a typical western diet that has too many Omega-6 fats.

Let’s pretend that Omega-3 and Omega-6 are doing a little dance together. In a balanced person, when Omega-6 steps to the right, Omega-3 takes a step to the right, too. When Omega-6 takes a step back, Omega-3 takes a step back too.

They’re always together, in sync with one another. This represents the healthy 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that is necessary for high performers to reach their full potential.

In the person that is unbalanced, the dance steps are completely off. Omega-6 takes 10 steps to the right, 5 steps back and then 10 more steps forward leaving the poor Omega-3 all alone on the dance floor.

Omega-3 barely takes one step forward before Omega-6 starts to cut loose again on another solo. This represent the 25:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 that I see in many high performers when they start working with me.

At this rate, they’re compromising brain function and the ability to focus and they’re neglecting many other powerful benefits that these healthy fats can provide. In fact, Dr. Mercola suggests that omega-3 deficiency could be responsible for almost 100,000 deaths every year (1).

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Should I Just Eat Farm Raised Fish?

This seems like it would be a great way to avoid mercury poisoning symptoms, right? But there’s more to it than that. I have big problems with farm raised fish. Here are my main issues:

1- Farmed Fish are Treated with Antibiotics

Have you ever heard of a CAFO? A Concentrated Animal Feed Organization? Normally, when we talk about CAFOs it’s in the context of cattle or pigs.

Imagine a building with hundreds and hundreds of animals confined in tight quarters, with barely any room to move. They don’t get outside, they don’t get fresh air and they poop and pee amongst one another all day long.

Sounds like a great breeding ground for disease (and a HUGE reason why we only eat organic, grass-fed and free range chicken and meat).

When it comes to fish farms, it’s the same type of set up. The farms are overcrowded and the fish are highly susceptible to disease and death…unless of course, they are pumped full of antibiotics.

Even though the antibiotics keep the fish alive (and profits high) trace amounts of those antibiotics wind up on your plate. In theory, it seems like a small amount of antibiotic here and there isn’t a big deal.

But actually, it’s a very big deal.

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a huge problem. And it’s in part due to the chronic, low-levels of exposure to antibiotics that we encounter through the food we eat (meat, fish, dairy, poultry, etc.), the over-prescribing of antibiotics by the medical industry and the overuse of antibacterial products, like soaps and cleansers.

Here’s the very scary part:

“Millions of people are contracting resistant infections every year in the United States and hundreds of millions more are doing so around the globe. Increasingly, as the virulence and resistance of bacteria worsen, more of them are succumbing to formerly treatable diseases.” (4) – Herbal Antibiotics, Buhner

Could you imagine yourself or someone you love dying of a bacterial infection? The thought is just unconscionable.

Yet, that’s what’s happening more and more in hospitals all over the country and all throughout the world. Antibiotic resistant bacteria or “superbugs” are spurred on through the overuse of antibiotics.

This is a huge reason why I can’t recommend eating farmed fish.

2- Farmed Fish Contain PCBs

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are carcinogens – they are known to cause cancer. Did you get that?

Farmed fish (especially farmed salmon) often contain PCBs that are known to cause cancer.

In 1976 the U.S. actually placed a ban on PCBs. It’s one of the most dangerous chemicals that still contaminate our food supply.

Even though PCBs are not used anymore, they are still present in the environment.  They have bioaccumulated in the food that is given to farmed fish. Most of the “fish food” on these fish farms consists of smaller fish that are processed into fishmeal.

These smaller fish have trace amounts of PCBs that they’ve picked up from the environment and as the bigger fish feed on this “fish meal” the amount of PCBs increases to unacceptable levels. It’s very similar to the way mercury bioaccumlates in larger fish.

Due to the fact that PCBs are cancer causing and are highly elevated in farm raised fish, I simply can’t recommend eating farm raised.

Become a Fish Snob

One of the best ways to retain the benefits of eating healthy fish without exposing yourself mercury is to become a fish snob.

You want to consider a few things when you’re ordering fish at a restaurant:

1- Consider the Size

How big is the fish? Larger fish like swordfish, marlin and sharks tend to be higher in mercury. This is because these big guys feed off the smaller fish and the mercury bioaccumulates or stockpiles in their body over time.

They also tend to live longer than smaller fish which means they have more time to stockpile more and more mercury. This is why you want to stay away from larger fish.

2- Consider the Body of Water

When it comes to Salmon I tend to avoid anything other than salmon that’s wild-caught from Alaska. Depending on the fish I’m considering, I might avoid Atlantic or Pacific waters.

Click the following link, scroll down and check out the graph. It can be a helpful tool to use. Just take a look at some of your favorite fish and notate which body of water tends to have lower mercury levels.

For instance, if your options are between Atlantic and Pacific salmon, Pacific is a better choice because it tends to be lower in mercury.

3- Carry a Mercury Card

One of the best ways to avoid mercury poisoning symptoms is to simply know which fish to avoid. Both my wife and I carry around a wallet sized mercury card. It has the most common fish species listed and whether they are High, Moderate or Low in mercury.

Having this card handy helps us to make the best selections at restaurants. And if we’re contemplating “living on the edge” because of a birthday or special occasion, we do so knowing that we’re making a “riskier” decision.

We’ll take extra precautions to mitigate any negative effects. We want to help you stay informed and make great decisions when it comes to your fish and seafood selections as well.

To avoid chronic, low-levels of mercury poisoning and its symptoms click below to download the wallet sized Mercury Card that we created for you. We even made one for you to stick on the refrigerator.

As you’re shopping throughout the week you can select fish that won’t impair your brain and body function so that you can stay in a state of high performance.

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How Much Mercury Is In Your Body?

If you’ve been reading this article and you’re concerned because you’ve enjoyed swordfish a little too much or you have mercury fillings, there’s a way to measure how much mercury is in your system.

In our consultancy, we use functional health testing to get a clear understanding of where you stand and what we need to do to help you function at the highest level. You can apply to work with us here.

And it’s not just mercury that’s concerning. We test for 19 other heavy metals, including lead. Many people don’t realize that it’s a huge problem to have elevated mercury levels, but it’s also an even bigger issue when mercury and lead are present.

The two have synergistic NEGATIVE effects in the body. And it’s much more common than you might think. Of the hundreds of people that I’ve worked with over the years, 80% have had elevated mercury on their test results.

I’ll remind you that mercury is a neurotoxin and if not handled properly, you can find yourself experiencing one or more of the symptoms below if you aren’t already.

Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Autoimmne Challenges
    Digestive Issues
  • Weight Loss Resistance
  • Hormone Disruption
  • Neurological/Nervous System Issues

Fortunately, with new science, technology and protocols there are simple ways to address heavy metals exposure and mercury poisoning symptoms so that you can feel your best and function at your highest level.

 

Sources:

  1. Guide to Omega-3 Benefits and Supplementation, Dr. Mercola
  2. Sierra Club: Toxic Mercury
  3. Doctor’s Data
  4. Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  5. Environmental Working Group: PCBs in Salmon
  6. Scientific American: Farm Raised Fish and Mercury, Other Pollutants

 

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