The Effects of Mercury in Tuna for Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Through bioaccumulation, mercury in tuna and other fish can build to unsafe levelsFish are generally regarded as an important source of nutrients. They include omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital in our development and growth, especially in the organs such as the eye and brain. Among its other benefits it is a great source of dietary vitamin D, protein, and minerals. In addition, it lowers the risk of acquiring health conditions such as heart malfunction, autoimmune disorders, and degraded vision during old age. However, this ordinarily healthy source of protein can hold a hidden danger. Mercury in tuna and some other fishes can cause toxic and debilitating effects to your body.

How Mercury in Tuna Happens

Mercury in itself is a naturally formed element found throughout our environment, in the air we breathe, the food we eat and water. For the majority of our population, the exposure to mercury is contained within the food we consume. Fish are exposed to mercury through polluted rivers and oceans where they feed. The polluted waters are created by fallout from trash incinerators or the excess from mercury fungicides. No amount of preparation or technique of cooking can significantly reduce the volume of mercury in tuna and other fish.

Effects of Mercury

Once mercury is ingested, it is readily absorbed by the small intestine and forms a complex, in the liver, with glutathione. The mercury-glutathione complex will then be excreted through the bile in the digestive system or transported into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, mercury travels to the liver or the brain. If it crosses the blood brain barrier as methylmercury and binds to cysteine and becomes stored, many health issues can occur. Mercury is a heavy metal, which is toxic to the brain and can damage neurons within, our central nervous system. This affects functions of memory, language, and, during the development of a child, it can even affect milestones such as talking and walking.

A draft by the FDA has recommended that women who are pregnant avoid consuming fish containing high amounts of mercury completely. Scientists have demonstrated that even if pregnant women follow the advice from the government, regarding which types of fish to avoid eating, they may still be subjecting themselves, and their unborn children, to levels of mercury that are unsafe and have a possibility of causing harm. This is done while, at the same time, depriving themselves of the essential nutrients that fish provide. Some scientists, at the Environmental Working Group, have shown that even if someone were to avoid consuming fish containing high amounts of mercury, their exposure to unsafe levels of mercury would still remain.

Several other studies have shown that there is a saturation point to mercury after a 1-year chronic exposure or consumption of mercury in tuna and other fish. The body maxes out and excess mercury will get excreted. There is no greater accumulation of mercury and it will not lead to an overabundance of mercury in the body after the saturation point is met.

Fish hold many healthy vitamins, but this can be negated by mercury in tunaOmega 3s contain two acids, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both are essential for optimal development of the brain, cognitive function, and a healthy functioning central nervous system. Since many forms of supplemental omega 3s are derived from fish sources, It is important to make sure that they have low mercury levels, molecularly distilling the oil to remove as many impurities as possible.


Mercury and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

With increased volumes of mercury in tuna and fish leading to an overload in our bodies, our liver becomes congested with toxins, placing a larger burden on the ability of the liver to detoxify foreign chemicals and toxins. This overload of toxins can lead to activating Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Any stress on the body, be it emotional, mental, or physical, takes a toll on the adrenals. A buildup of mercury is the same. As the stress on the adrenals build up, eventually the glands will not be able to continue functioning normally and adrenal fatigue may arise. Symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, chemical sensitivities, and trouble sleeping may start to appear. Unfortunately, the body is only able to cope with eliminating mercury in small amounts at a time. If not properly monitored, mercury toxicity can eventually overwhelm the detoxification pathway of the neuroendometabolic (NEM) stress response system. NEM stress response is your whole body’s method of handling stress, detoxification is one pathway that helps your body handle stress. However, if the toxic load on your body keeps increasing, this added stress on the body can dysregulate the liver and extracellular matrix resulting in symptoms such as hypersensitivities to chemicals, electromagnetic fields, and paradoxical reactions.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s can result from mercury in tunaHeavy metal toxicity, such as mercury poisoning, has also been linked to certain conditions as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and neurological disorders. Symptoms you need to be aware of, if you are concerned you have toxicity in your system, are unexplained headaches, failing memory, brittle nails/hair, lack of energy, depression, and/or unexplained weight gain.

There is a lack of adequate information being provided by the government regulatory health bodies in order to allow women to make educated choices in which fish they should be eating and in what amounts are for optimal health before and after pregnancy. With continued research, the data on the mercury content develops and grows. Some health professionals are advising that eating more fish in general is good for overall health. Every individual needs to be aware of balancing their consumption of seafood and weighing the benefits versus potential harm. This means the consideration of eating alternatives such as salmon, providing omega-3 fats while reducing risk for toxins.

In circumstances where people have been determined to have AFS, they can find that in a considerable amount of cases, mercury toxicity may be an associated condition. However, one must be careful when handling heavy metal detoxification. This is a stressful process on the body and often times those in adrenal fatigue, do not have the energy to chelate heavy metals successfully. In that case, the first step may be to improve the adrenals and gain energy. Once the body is stronger, heavy metal chelation, and mercury detoxification, can be revisited with more confidence and success. In the meantime, it is important that mercury in tuna or other sources be completely avoided, to allow the body’s natural defenses to operate by liver detoxification.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Through bioaccumulation, mercury in tuna and other fish can build to unsafe levels