The Impact of Mercury On Thyroid Health
Published September 24 2012
There are numerous heavy metals which can be toxic to one’s health. Some of the more common ones include aluminum, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and then there’s mercury. A lot of people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have high levels of mercury in their tissues. And this heavy metal can potentially lead to the development of these conditions. In other cases mercury isn’t a direct cause of a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid disorder, but still is something that eventually needs to be addressed.
How does one get high levels of mercury?
Two of the most common sources include mercury fillings in the teeth, as well as eating certain types of fish. Typically the larger the size of the fish, the greater the chance of being exposed to mercury. So while eating fish otherwise is very healthy, due to the high mercury content I would recommend eating only a few servings per week of smaller fish, such as wild salmon and sardines. Another way of being exposed to mercury is during gestation, as if the mother has high levels of mercury then this can be passed down to the baby. And so these days it’s not uncommon to be born with high levels of mercury.
Keep in mind that it is just about impossible to eliminate 100% of the mercury from the body, even when using such methods as chelation therapy. I’ve had hundreds of patients tested to determine their heavy metal levels, and I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone who didn’t have any traces of mercury, along with the other heavy metals.
How Can One Test For High Mercury Levels?
I personally use a hair mineral analysis test to determine the levels of the heavy metals, which includes mercury. According to the FDA this is a very accurate method of testing for the heavy metals. Urine testing is another method of testing the heavy metals. One can also do serum testing for the mercury levels, although this doesn’t seem to be as reliable.
How Does Mercury Affect Thyroid Health?
Mercury doesn’t just affect thyroid health, but can affect many of the other systems in the body. One of the main reasons is because it can bind to any molecule in the body which contains sulfur, along with other sites in the cell. This can prevent certain enzymes from doing their job. So mercury can potentially bind to the cells of the thyroid gland, which can result in a hypothyroid condition. Mercury interferes with many of the minerals necessary for thyroid hormone production, as well as the conversion of T4 to T3. Some of the minerals this toxic metal affects include zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s not a factor in people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, as I commonly see high mercury levels in people with these conditions. I’m not sure if mercury can cause a hyperthyroid condition, but it can possibly trigger an autoimmune response, thus leading to a condition such as Graves’ Disease, or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
How To Reduce The Mercury Levels In Your Body
The obvious first step to reduce the mercury levels in your body is to minimize or eliminate the source of the exposure. For example, if you eat a lot of fish, then you probably will want to consider reducing your consumption. If you have dental amalgams, then you will eventually want to consider having these removed by a biological dentist. Although a “conventional” dentist is also capable of removing these fillings and replacing them with white composites, a biological dentist will take the necessary precautions to minimize your exposure to the mercury upon removing the fillings. Many general dentists don’t take such precautions. Some will claim they do this when they really don’t, while other dentists will tell you that special precautions aren’t necessary, which simply isn’t true. So even if you have to drive a few hours to see a biological dentist to remove mercury fillings it is well worth it.
One important thing to keep in mind is that people with an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis need to be very careful about getting their fillings removed, as this potentially can exacerbate the autoimmune component of the condition. This is less likely to happen if you get them removed by a biological dentist, but it is still possible. As a result, if a patient of mine who is looking to begin a natural treatment protocol has very high mercury levels, I will either recommend for them to get the mercury fillings removed before beginning the protocol, or after the protocol has been completed. I prefer for them not to get this done in the middle of the protocol because it can flare up their condition and therefore slow down their progress.
In addition to minimizing the consumption of fish and getting the silver fillings removed, other steps probably need to be taken to remove the mercury. Chelation therapy is an option, but in my opinion it usually should be a last resort. Sauna therapy is another option. One thing to keep in mind is that if you balance the minerals, this will also help with the toxic metals. For example, many people are deficient in selenium, and supplementing with extra selenium can help with the detoxification of mercury. Certain herbal complexes can also help detoxify the body of mercury (as well as other heavy metals), as there is one by the company MediHerb called ChelaCo that can help with this.
So hopefully you realize the impact that mercury can have on your thyroid health. But just remember that besides affecting the thyroid gland, it can also affect other glands and organs in the body. As a result, I recommend for everyone to get tested to see if they have high levels of mercury, and for those that do, it is necessary to take the necessary steps to eliminate as much of this heavy metal from your body as possible. This not only can help with your current thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, but it will also help to prevent other health issues related to mercury exposure from developing in the future.