With all the news about the danger of mercury emissions, I decided it was time to understand how mercury works in our bodies. Now I know how this element works in body and wahy our young are so vulnerable to it.
Mercury changes forms. It has different costumes. It ducks into phone booths as organic, and comes out as inorganic, and then darts into a dark cell to do its damage leaving someone else’s fingerprints. Mystery. It did take scientists a long time to determine how mercury changes faces so fast. Each form attacks a different aspect of the cell membrane, or your DNA or your enzymes.
Methyl mercury is oxidized into the “ionic” form of mercury. This is a very destructive form of mercury. (Its problem is that it cannot travel very far.) The compound is the most dangerous form due to its ability to travel great distances and enter all cells. It is absorbed by shellfish and fish, through their gills; it is dispersed by their blood through their bodies, and accumulates in their fatty tissue. The contaminated fish is eaten by other fish, and birds and mammals–including humans. The biggest source of mercury exposure in humans comes from eating fish and shellfish.
Once eaten, mercury goes directly into the highest lipid-containing organs in our bodies–including breasts and brains. Breast milk, which is packed with nutrients and high in lipid content, can contain mercury.
Absorption of mercury from the area under your tongue and the insides of your cheeks are the fastest absorption. These areas, of course, are in close proximity to the mercury fillings, so efficiency of absorption is great. From the blood stream, mercury can travel to any cell in the body, where it can either disable or destroy the tissues. Mercury can also travel directly from the fillings into the lungs, into the blood stream and, as before described, every cell in the body becomes a valid target.
All of this travel and destruction is what defines mercury toxicity. It may favor nerve tissue for a destruction target, but the kidney is high up on its list of tissues to destroy. After these two areas, it can wreak havoc in any tissue that might get in its way. For this reason, it is difficult to devise a change in the normal chemistry of the body, called a test, which would “prove” mercury (the CAS number is 7439-97-6)toxicity. It can alter almost anything in the body; therefore, mercury should not be allowed to enter for any reason.
Once in our bodies, mercury stays there for many months, and most people have some amount of mercury in their tissues at all times. Its exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system of people of all ages.