Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mercury in Our Diet

If you eat salmon, king mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish, you are probably putting this into your system as well:

Methylmercury. It's the soluble form. You really don't want to mess with it. It can accumulate in fatty tissues and the mercury can even reach your brain as it has an affinity for sulphur and could irreversibly bind to the thiol groups found in enzyme systems. Not to mention that it could also bind to sulphur containing proteins and denature them. In severe cases, a hapten may form and trigger an immune response.

Google "mercury poisoning" and you will know what a beast mercury can really be. I don't want to exaggerate the magnitude of this matter, but it is 2008, and I think we are all well aware that our environment is more polluted and males' sperm count and motility are decreasing. Point being- Mercury in our environment could be a bigger problem in the future. Awareness would help.

Yes I know, salmon is too delicious. Too bad the salmon is a big fish. And just like the shark, the bioaccumulative mercury they recieve at the end of the food chain is tremendous. due to the exponential accumulation of mercury down the food chain. And if we eat the big fishes... And considering that we are right at the end of the food chain... Doomed?

You don't have to forgo eating oily fish. In fact, you shouldn't. Eat herring and sardines. They are smaller fish and are considered low-mercury fish. Don't like the Clupeidae family? Then, refer to this list:

Besides, most farmed fish are considered safe. On the other hand, PCBs might be another issue.

"Chinese herbal drugs with measurable amounts of mercury include: Chinese herbal ball preparations containing both mercury and arsenic include:
An Gong Niu Huang Wan
Da Huo Luo Wan
Dendrobium Moniliforme Night Sight pills
Niu Huang Chiang Ya Wan
Niu Huang Chiang Hsin Wan
Ta Huo Lo Tan
Tsai Tsao Wan"

Forget these herbal drugs. They will do more harm than good.
EDTA and DMSA are chelators used in mercury poisoning. Alpha lipoic acid also proved its usefulness as a chelator. It crosses the BBB. It is a cyclic disulphide. And mercury just loves sulphur too much. Instead of binding to the sulphur in our body, the mercury could bind to ALA instead and be eliminated from the body, thus "reversing" the state of mercury poisoning.
EDTA and DMSA coordinating the mercury atom, illustrated here using Chemsketch:

ALA might not be a good idea for chelation. I have read about controversies that ALA could remobilize mercury to the nervous system, which is much worse. Of course, ALA advocates say that proper timely usage of ALA (every 3 hours) will ensure that the mercury is eliminated and not moved somewhere else in the body.

Just watch what you eat and you should be safe. And don't play with mercury. I know it's nice--that mirror-reflective, silvery liquid. And what more can I say? Even Qin Shi Huang thought it could give him eternal life!

Mercury can spontaneously vaporize. It may have a low vapour pressure of 0.0017 torr at 25°C, but it could be way over the exposure limits, especially if ventilation is poor.

Doing this should not harm you much. But then again, why expose yourself to mercury when you have a choice? Out of curiosity? First hand experience? Well, I will leave it for you to decide. Anyway, the video demonstrates the cohesive nature of mercury.

Don't love mercury too much!

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