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Mercury and Your Health

By Susan Blum, MD 

Are you concerned about your exposure to mercury from the food you are eating?  If you eat fish at all, then you should be. This can be confusing, but is very important because mercury can cause autoimmune disease and other health-related problems.  That is why I decided to dedicate our April newsletter to this topic…to shed some light on this issue and to help you decide what to eat, and what to do to protect yourself from this environmental toxin.

Where do you find mercury and what is it?

Mercury is part of a group of compounds called heavy metals. There are ‘good’ heavy metals like iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  They are good because humans require these metals to function properly.  However, keep in mind that these too can be toxic at excessive levels.

On the other hand, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and plutonium are ‘bad’ toxic metals and if they accumulate in the body over time, can cause serious illness.   For our purpose today, I will focus on mercury because there is plenty of data that explains what it does in the body and how we are exposed.

Where does Mercury come from?

There are 2 main sources of mercury that we are exposed to.  First, mercury is released into the air from coal burning power plants and from volcanoes.  After it settles in the oceans and soil, we end up eating it from the fish or plants or animals that grow and live in these places. The big fish eat the little fish, and the mercury bio accumulates, which means it gets more concentrated in the bigger fish.

The other main source of mercury is the vapor released from silver fillings.  While this is somewhat controversial, there is enough evidence suggesting this is a real issue, and why I recommend replacing your fillings if possible.

There are also other places you can be exposed to mercury, like in the preservative of some vaccines, and old thermometers.  But fish and silver fillings are the biggest problem.

How does mercury accumulate in your body and make you sick?

Your body was created with multiple detox systems in place to clear out the mercury you are exposed to.  One of these, called the glutathione system, is very active in your liver and also in all the cells in your body.  If you are exposed to more mercury than this system can handle, the mercury can build up in your body and cause damage to your nerves, thyroid, immune system (autoimmune disease, for example), and all the cells in your body by causing something we call oxidative stress.  This simply means that you run out of the important antioxidants that your body needs to protect itself, resulting in free radicalscreated by the mercury that can then damage the tissues.

To protect your cells and tissues, it is critical that you keep your liver detox system in tip-top shape by eating lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables with plenty of color.  In addition, you can take specific antioxidant supplements to boost your glutathione.  Our favorite and most convenient way to do this is by taking our BlumBox Immune & Antioxidant Support Packets, created for just this purpose.   

The next step is to support your liver and its ability to clear this metal out of your system. The best strategy is to do a liver detox program once or twice/year, and to make sure you are eating foods with selenium, sulfur (onions), cruciferous veggies, and lots of antioxidants. Our nutritionist can help you with a personalized program, or you can join one of our signature Detox Groups.  If you eat a lot of fish or suspect you have too much mercury already, both of these are good options.  For more information or to join our next detox group,

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A Day In The Life….Of Your Toxic Exposures

By Darcy McConnell, MD

We come into contact with thousands of chemicals each day.  Luckily, we are equipped to handle toxic exposure – our liver metabolizes and removes these harmful substances the best that it can and we go about our business. Unfortunately, sometimes the burden of toxicity becomes overwhelming to the body, and causes us to suffer a multitude of ailments from fatigue and brain fog to autoimmune disease and cancer.

Though it is impossible to avoid exposure altogether, it is not difficult to reduce our body’s burden of toxins with some simple steps.  Let’s take a look at where these toxic exposures are hiding in our everyday life so we can address them and make some simple changes.

A day in the life … of your toxic exposure.  Where you might be accumulating toxins without even being aware of it:

You wake up after sleeping for hours on a mattress that may be exposing you to hundreds of harmful chemicals, and walk across a carpet that has flame retardants and VOCs seeping from it.  The cleaning products used in your home are full of toxins that remain in the air you breathe and on surfaces you touch.

  • You start your day brushing your teeth and showering with water that may be contaminated with chlorine, heavy metals, and other toxic compounds. 
  • You use personal care products that contain endocrine disruptors, harmful chemicals that alter hormones, and other dangerous substances like aluminum, phthalates, propylene glycol, and all kinds of colorings and fragrances.   
  • Into the kitchen for breakfast, and you prepare and eat food that is tainted with chemicals and additives.  Pesticides, antibiotics and hormone residues lurk in conventional produce, meats, and dairy; heavy metals and PCBs contaminate our fish supply.  BPA and phthalates leach from plastics in food packaging and bottles.
  • You get dressed, and the clothing you wear may have toxins from dry cleaning chemicals, flame retardants and synthetic plastics that are breathed in and absorbed through the skin.

It’s scary, you haven’t even left the house yet and you’ve been exposed to so many disruptive chemicals!

But we should not despair, though the research and evidence of harm is damning.  We have a choice to make the less toxic purchase every time we buy food, cleaning products, cosmetics, clothing, or furniture.

Come learn how to detoxify your environment and find guidance on how to make clean, healthy choices for decreasing your everyday toxic exposure.  Join me for my free talk on Monday April 18th at 6pm! 

Photo Credit: Household Chemical Cleaners