Mercury Toxicity

The number one source of mercury is vaccinations

Thimerosal is the preservative of choice for vaccine manufacturers. First introduced by Eli Lilly and Company in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the company began selling it as a preservative in vaccines in the 1940s. Thimerosal contains 49.6 percent mercury by weight –

In my own case, I managed to get high levels of mercury in spite of not having any any vaccinations – how did this come about?

You’ve probably heard people say “Oh, everything gives you cancer, so why worry about it?”. Well, as far as I know, FISH doesn’t give you cancer. But sadly, I have discovered the hard way that it CAN contribute to mercury toxicity.

A few years ago I had a mineral analysis done on a hair sample and discovered I had very high (6.5 mg/g) levels of mercury in my system. As I don’t have any of the main symptoms of mercury toxicity, I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to find out about it relatively early. The lab who did the analysis said :

“Mercury (Hg) is toxic to humans and animals. The accumulation of Hg in the body is generally reflected by the hair Hg levels, but hair Hg levels can be artificially high in association with the use of certain hair dyes. Individuals vary greatly in sensitivity and tolerance to Hg burden.

At hair levels above 3 mg/g, Hg can suppress biological selenium function and may cause or contribute to immune dysregulation in sensitive individuals. Hallmark symptoms of excess Hg include: loss of appetite, decreased senses of touch, hearing, and vision, fatigue, depression, emotional instability, peripheral numbness and tremors, poor memory and cognitive dysfunction, and neuromuscular disorders. Hair Hg has been reported to correlate with acute myocardial infarction and on average each 1 mg/g of hair Hg was found to correlate with a 9% increase in AMI risk (Circulation 1995; 91:645-655).

Sources of Hg include dental amalgams, contaminated seafood, water supplies, some hemorrhoidal preparations, skin lightening agents, instruments (thermometers, electrodes, batteries), and combustion of fossil fuels, some fertilizers, and the paper/pulp and gold industries. After dental amalgams are installed or removed a transient (several months) increase in hair Hg is observed. Also, “baseline” hair Hg levels for individuals with dental amalgam are higher (about 1 to 2 mg/g) than are baseline levels for those without (below 1 mg/g).

Confirmatory tests for elevated Hg are measurements of whole blood as an indication of recent/ongoing exposure (does not correlate with whole body accumulation) and measurement of urine Hg following use of a dithiol chelating or mobilizing agent such as DMSA or DMPS (an indication of total body burden).”

Let’s look at the possible reasons for my overload.

Hair dyes

I had been using a chemical hair dye, and am now using a henna based product. There is the possibility of a little of the dye remaining on some parts of the sample, but this would be very small.

Anyone who uses a chemical hair dye should be aware of the possibility that they are likely to raise your levels of a number of potentially toxic elements, including mercury.

Contaminated water supply

We use a reverse osmosis water filter, so this is not a likely cause for me.

I recommend that everybody consider filtering their drinking water, as clean water is a basic requirement for good health.

Amalgam fillings

“Silver” or amalgam fillings are comprised of approximately 50% mercury, 25% silver and 25% other materials such as copper, tin and nickel or zinc. Some dentists still deny any connection between ill health from mercury toxicity and their use. But many more are speaking out against their use. The World Health Organisation consider them a prime source of mercury exposure. The governments of Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Germany have legislated against their further use, and the Swedish government will also pay for their removal if they are causing medical problems.

I consider this issue to be so self evident that I don’t intend to try and convince you that it is a serious problem. But if you still have doubts, there are many websites with excellent information. Try this for starters :
Your Health At Risk, by Toni Jeffreys, also has detailed info about this health problem (along with many others).

If you have amalgam fillings and are diagnosed with a high level of mercury overload, it is not advisable to have them removed at that time. Removing them will temporarily increase the level of mercury in your system, something you don’t want to happen till you have reduced the toxic load. Once you have got down to less dangerous levels, find a dentist who is experienced in safely replacing them. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has a protocol for safe removal online at :

In the meantime, even if you have no symptoms of mercury toxicity, to safeguard your future health, find a dentist who will use white fillings.

In my case, some of the toxic overload can possibly be attributed to my amalgam fillings. But it doesn’t account for anywhere near all of it, so let’s continue.

Contaminated seafood

In the experience of the health care advisors who arranged my analysis, such high levels are invariably associated with high fish intake over a period of time. I was eating 3-6 servings of fish per week, some of it tinned, so it seems likely that fish would be the biggest contributor to my problem. (The only person they have seen with higher levels than mine – at 8 mg/g – had been eating fish twice a day and had severe neurological symptoms).

Time magazine (Nov 18, 2002) reports: “You may love fish, but California researchers report new evidence that consuming large species such as tuna and swordfish even once a week may be linked to fatigue, headaches, inability to concentrate and hair loss, all symptoms of low-level mercury poisoning. In a study of 123 fish-loving subjects, the researchers found that 89% had blood levels of rnethylmercury that exceeded the EPA standard by as much as 10 times. The problem with big fish is that they’re at the top of the pelagic food chain, accumulating mercury from smaller fry and then passing it on to you. The good news: if you stop eating seafood or limit your consumption to low-metal varieties such as tilapia and sole, your body will rid itself of the mercury- though it may take years.” How Much Tuna Can You Eat Each Week? That depends on your body weight. According to Washington State’s department of health, a safe level would be approximately 1oz for every 20lb of body weight. So for a 125lb (57kg) person, 1 can of tuna a week maximum.

Dr Mercola advises people not to eat fish at all, but to get their Omega 3’s from fish oils that have been purified of toxins & impurities.

Here in New Zealand, I don’t think most people need to stop eating fish altogether. I don’t know what overseas regulations allow, but in NZ, there is a limit in the amount ofmercury allowed in fish. Most people can probably cope with levels under this limit once or twice a week with no problems, unless of course, they already have high mercury levels, or other types of toxic overload.

Some nutritional experts, including Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, believe that a high level of saturated fat in the diet protects from the effects of mercury and helps carry it out of the body. Another reason to make sure you’re getting enough of those good fats.

Balch and Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing say “Eat fish in moderation, and always broil it; do not baste it in its juices. While some fish may contain mercury, fish also contains compounds called alkylglycerols, which help to remove mercury from the body. If there is mercury in the fish, it is primarily stored in the fat. By broiling the fish and draining the juices, you will get rid of much of the fat and retain the beneficial alkylglycerols.”

IMPORTANT CORRECTION to Balch and Balch  :I received an email from Jenifer, who is studying bioaccumulation of mercury in fish. She advises that the above statement by Balch and Balch is incorrect and potentially dangerous:

“Mercury is not stored in the fat of fishes. Other dangerous persistent chemicals such as PCBs are stored there and removing fat or cooking it in such a way that fats are consumed less will help reduce consumption of those chemicals but it will do nothing to reduce the mercury content of fish. This is potentially dangerous misinformation since some shark, swordfish, or tuna-lover may think they’re fine to eat their steaks as long as they drain the fat away. I hope that you will be able to correct this.”

Thanks for that valuable information Jen.

It appears that some people can’t flush mercury out of their systems and it builds up, sometimes to dangerous levels. So I would warn against eating fish too often. Avoid fish high in the food chain, like tuna. Avoid all tinned fish except sardines, which are low in the food chain, so are probably safe to eat occasionally. Eat white fish occasionally. NZ King Salmon is possibly the safest fish available here as far as mercury goes (see box below). But I can’t recommend that it is eaten too frequently. NZ fish farms, like overseas ones, feed soy to their salmon, although King Salmon advise me that “Our suppliers only use a small amount of soy in the diet – its far more common as a replacement protein in overseas diets and its usage is growing”. If we can’t process the anti-nutrients in soy, fish certainly won’t be able to. If you can locate wild salmon, that would be better.

A spokesperson for NZ King Salmon emailed me this information about it’s purity :

“Our salmon has very low levels of mercury, well below allowable limits.  (0.5ppm is the upper limit in NZ regulations).  Our low levels are due to the controlled diet our fish receive and clean water.  As mercury accumulates in the liver, I have not had the flesh tested, only the livers.  The level in the liver will be significantly higher than that in the flesh.  In a sample of 10 livers, the range was 0.079 to 0.25ppm mercury, with an mean of 0.13ppm. I cannot guarantee that there is no mercury present in the flesh but I can assure you that it is at very, very low levels.”

Analysis per 100g of fresh New Zealand King Salmon (by NZ Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd) :

Protein 17.6 g
Fat 27.6 g
  of which Saturated Fat 6.2 g
  of which Monounsaturated Fat 9.1 g
  of which Polyunsaturated Fat 9.0 g
  of which Omega-3 7.4 g
Cholesterol 47 mg
Carbohydrate Less than 0.1 g
Energy 1287 kJ
Sodium 20 mg
Calcium 17 mg
Iron 0.7 mg
Vitamin A 52 µg
Thiamin 0.27 mg
Riboflavin 0.03 mg
Niacin 22 mg
Vitamin B 12 1.90 µg
Vitamin C 6.0 mg
Vitamin D 6 µg
Vitamin E 7.2 mg

Other sources:

These include some hemorrhoidal preparations, skin lightening agents, instruments (thermometers, electrodes, batteries), and combustion of fossil fuels, some fertilizers, and the paper/pulp and gold industries.

Not an issue in my case, but you will know if you are at risk from any of them.

Tell me the symptoms again:

Doctors Data says “At hair levels above 3 mg/g, Hg can suppress biological selenium function and may cause or contribute to immune dysregulation in sensitive individuals. Hallmark symptoms of excess Hg include: loss of appetite, decreased senses of touch, hearing, and vision, fatigue, depression, emotional instability, peripheral numbness and tremors, poor memory and cognitive dysfunction, and neuromuscular disorders. Hair Hg has been reported to correlate with acute myocardial infarction and on average each 1 mg/g of hair Hg was found to correlate with a 9% increase in AMI risk.”

Balch and Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing list arthritis, depression, dermatitis, dizziness, fatigue, gum disease, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, insomnia, headaches, joint pain, slurred speech, memory loss, diarrheoa, muscle weakness, and excess salivation as some of the results. Signs of toxicity include behavioural changes, depression, confusion, irritability and hyperactivity.

What if I think I’m at risk?

If you have any of the above symptoms, or have reason to believe you may have been overexposed to mercury, it would be a good idea to have a hair mineral analysis done. There is some debate about the usefulness of this testing for levels of essential minerals, and whether it is better to use the labs who wash the hair or those who don’t, for determining mineral levels. But there seems to be universal agreement that they can be valuable for determining levels of toxic metals, and that for toxic elements it doesn’t matter whether the hair gets washed or not.

In the US, there are a number of labs that provide this service, and you should have no trouble finding a health care professional who can arrange it for you. Here are the websites of two labs: and who should be able to provide you with names of practitioners in your area.

If you are in New Zealand and can’t find anyone to arrange a test for you, visit the Pacific Health website, and contact them asking where your nearest practitioner is.
I’ve tested positive for an overload. What now?

First of all, don’t panic. Secondly, don’t rush into anything. Depending on your level of toxicity and your symptoms, you will need to act fairly quickly, but you must make sure you have got knowledgeable assistance.

The first step is to limit your further exposure as much as possible. Make sure your drinking water is clean, avoid seafood in the meantime, don’t chew gum as that can release higher levels of mercury from your amalgam fillings and check other possible areas of contamination.

There are a number of ways you can chelate the mercury out of your body. But it must be done slowly and carefully or you risk overloading and damaging the kidneys. So it is important find a health care practitioner who is experienced in treating mercury overload.

What is the best way to chelate the mercury?

I have received differing advice about the best method, which is why I strongly recommend you do NOT go it alone. But I can give you an idea on what your advisor might recommend.

My advisors suggested reduced l-glutathione at a dose of 400-600mg a day plus 500-1000mg of n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC).

An independent researcher, who cleared himself of an extremely toxic mercury overload, recommended Kyolic aged garlic extract in it’s liquid form. Kyolic was especially developed by the Japanese to treat mercury poisoning after an entire fishing village was poisoned by contaminated fish.

Balch and Balch, in Prescription for Nutritional Healing, feel the most important nutrients for detoxing mercury are:

  • L-glutathione (with l-methionine & l-cysteine) taken on an empty stomach
  • Selenium
  • Vit E
  • Apple pectin
  • Kyolic aged garlic
  • Vit A with beta-carotene and mixed carotenoids
  • Vit C with bioflavonoids

Dr Mercola has a detailed protocol using DMPS injections. However, this protocol CANNOT be used if you still have amalgam fillings.

I’ve since heard that coriander (cilantro) is one of the most potent mercury removers. And kelp is also helpful. Nature’s Sunshine do a combination that includes coriander, kelp and other nutrients. Another tip I found is that once the mercury has been released from the tissues your body needs help carrying it out. Bentonite clay is recommended for this. And for anyone who missed it higher up the page, Sally Fallon (Nourishing Traditions) says a high intake of saturated fats helps protect from the effects of mercury poisoning, and helps carry it out of the body.

I DO recommend maximising your chances of a full recovery by following a whole food diet, preferably the correct one for your metabolic type. Be cautious about taking any supplements unless you know whether they are appropriate for your type. Remember that you will need to keep your water intake up to keep the mercury flushing out, but don’t drink so much that you stress your kidneys.