Are you sick and tired of heavy metal?
There’s a very good chance that you are, whether you realize it or not. That’s because heavy metals – like mercury – make you sick, tired, and old before your time. Toxic mercury exposure is common and it’s hard to avoid.
Registered dietitian Chuck Balzer, MS, RD, knows just how dangerous mercury poisoning can be. One morning, in early March 2002, he stumbled into an Emergency Room with “searing pain” in his legs.
In the six months leading up to his visit, he’d seen his health collapse.
At first it began with a tingling in his legs, but as his symptoms snowballed he “became concerned and frightened.” Scared and confused, Balzer was unable to stop his health from unraveling. And Balzer is no stranger to wellness. He teaches Nutrition and Health at Brookdale College in Lincroft, NJ. But even he had no clue as to why his health was falling apart. He went to see consultants, talked to doctors… but no one could solve the mystery.
Over six months, the tingling became pain… and he felt increasingly tired and achy. By the time he walked into the ER, he was “in tears of pain, frustration, and perplexity” and feeling excruciating “bilateral leg pan, exacerbating arthritis [and] fatigue.”
A neurologist saw him and prescribed Darvocet. He was halfway out of the room when he turned and asked a question. It was a simple question, but one that changed Balzer’s life. He simply asked a young ER physician if Balzer had mentioned that he was “also having strange bodily twitching.”
The ER doctor looked at him inquisitively and cocked her head for a moment. Then she said she wanted to test Balzer’s mercury levels.
It was the first time anyone had even considered performing such a test. And when the results came back, Balzer’s levels were five times over the normal levels! His doctors did further tests and there were no doubts about it: his mercury levels were elevated.
Balzer took immediate action and went back to his doctor, armed with this new information. He knew total detoxification was his only hope.
“My GP surprised me by saying that he felt that my 22 amalgams should be removed,” says Balzer. “Along with removal of my amalgam fillings, I was treated with chelation therapy for systemic mercury removal.” He also adopted “a seafood-free diet [and] an array of self-researched nutrition supplements.”
It was the start of a long battle to becoming mercury free.
“Mercury is a tenacious poison, thus making the process of detoxification long and arduous,” says Balzer. “One that I can only analogize as a roller-coaster of good and bad days.”
Mercury is a kind of poisoning that is difficult to avoid. Once it’s in your system, it takes a long time to leave. You can’t just flush it out. But with courage and determination, it can be done. Balzer is proof of that.
“I am very active [now],” he says. He alternates “between biking 10 miles, walking three miles on the beach, ocean kayaking, and playing beach volleyball. I have had days where I’ve done all four in one day. This is an unimaginable progression from being unable to stand for three minutes without burning pain.”
Most Dangerous Sources of Poison
Balzer was a knowledgeable health professional. He ate a healthy diet and exercised. But he was still the victim of two immediate sources of mercury.
Those two sources are very common. They’re often cited as the primary sources of pollution. They come from eating fresh water fish and having amalgam (mercury) tooth fillings. And while the American Dental Association (ADA) still affirms that mercury fillings are safe, dozens of studies say otherwise.
Researchers in Saudi Arabia say mercury fillings may damage your kidneys. And a Finnish study links it to heart disease. A Colorado study offers strong evidence that mercury may even cause hearing loss!
And that’s just three studies out of literally dozens. They all link mercury poisoning to brain problems, nerve damage, headaches, fatigue, impaired sexual function, depression, and vomiting.
Modern-Day Battle Against Mercury
“Mercury is the most alarming, disease-causing source of environmental toxicity that I see in my practice,” says Dr. Mark Hyman. “Many of my patients have toxic levels of mercury.”
Dr. Hyman is a Massachusetts physician who serves on the Board of Advisors of Georgetown University. He’s observed many cases of mercury poisoning in his practice. And he’s had personal experience with it.
“I felt weak, tired, and couldn’t think,” he says. “I had muscle pain and twitches, insomnia, and anxiety. It was only by discovering mercury in my hair and urine — and slowly detoxifying — that I was able to get better.”
If you’re tired, depressed, or plain worn out, it’s possible you’re suffering from mercury poisoning. And mercury accumulates in your body, leading to bigger problems.
But don’t despair! You can fix your health and get that mercury out of your body.
Science tells us that mercury poisoning is very real. And it’s very hard to avoid.
It’s commonly found in fish and fillings. According to Dr. Hyman, fillings will expose you to up to 17 micrograms of mercury each day.
And a Swedish study conducted by Dr. Anders Lindvall backs this up. His study investigated how fillings affect health.
His results clearly linked fillings to chronic fatigue. He began his study in 1990 while still at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden. He tested 796 patients with amalgam-related illnesses.
His results showed mercury deposits in white blood cells. He then removed and replaced the amalgams with non-mercury fillings.
One year later, he reported that 70 percent of those patients enjoyed improved health. His conclusion was simple… Silver fillings damage health; removing them improves it.
The Mercury Invasion
Fillings are a common source of mercury. But there are plenty of other sources of this heavy metal. According to Dr. Hyman, mercury is found in beauty products, contact lens fluids, and vaccines. It’s in batteries, red tattoo dye, and even light bulbs.
So avoiding mercury is tricky. And once it’s in your body, it takes a long time to get rid of it. In fact, Dr. Hyman says it takes 18 years to lose just half of the dose of mercury.
There’s plenty of evidence that says mercury can make you sick. But there are things you can do to protect yourself. Check out these suggestions for reducing your exposure.
Reduce Your Mercury Exposure
The easiest way to reduce your exposure is to avoid large ocean and river fish. The safest fish to stick with are small wild fish. “If it fits in your pan, it is probably okay,” says Dr. Hyman.
Fish to avoid include:
Obviously, you shouldn’t eliminate fish from your diet. They contain essential fats and nutrients for good health. The smart option is going for fish lower on the food chain because experts believe they contain less mercury.
And when you buy fish, keep in mind where it was caught. For example, Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Tufts University in Boston, suggests wild salmon over farm-raised salmon.
She says there’s “pretty clear” evidence that wild salmon has lower levels of mercury. She says salmon caught in Chile is the safest, followed by that harvested from Alaska.
Nutrition consultant Joyce A. Nettleton, DSc, RD recommends “troll-caught albacore,” caught in the Pacific Northwest, because it has lower mercury levels.
Another option is fish oil supplements. These provide much needed omega-3s without the fear of contamination.
Amalgam fillings are the other primary source of mercury poisoning. Because of this, it’s smart to have them removed. But Dr. Hyman has some words of caution about this.
“Going to a dentist who drills out your fillings can lead to serious health consequences. I strongly advise against it,” says Dr. Hyman. “However, amalgam filling removal can be done safely by a dentist trained in the correct techniques.”
Studying the Dangers of Mercury
There’s no doubt about the dangers of mercury. For those who like their science solid and succinct, dozens of studies link mercury fillings to illness. Here are just four:
1. One study reported that patients with fatigue enjoyed better health after their fillings were replaced with composites.
2. Another study looked at a group of people with multiple sclerosis. 71 percent improved after removing their fillings. The conclusion? Mercury may cause auto-immune diseases.
3. Lab studies show that mercury may cause nerve cell damage. Further, it may promote brain plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients.
4. And a Rocky Mountain Research Institute study linked amalgam fillings to depression. The study took a group of people suffering from anxiety, hostility, and paranoia. One half had their fillings removed and replaced. The other half had their fillings capped with a “sealant.” They were told it would contain the mercury (but the sealant had no such capability). At the end of the study, the half with the replaced fillings enjoyed improvements in mood. The group with the “sealant” reported no change.
To your health,
Managing Editor, Natural Health Dossier “Health Watch”