Chlorella Protects Against Methylmercury
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Methylmercury is a highly toxic compound that binds tightly to nerves, inducing significant nerve damage. It can cross the placenta and injure the fetus. Chlorella is algae with the ability to absorb methylmercury. Research now shows that chlorella can significantly reduce the toxicity of methylmercury exposure to the fetus as well as prevent its accumulation in the brain. This is an important health issue to understand.
Human caused pollution releases about 160 tons of inorganic mercury into the air each year in the U.S. We also get mercury pollution from China via the jet stream. Forest fires and volcanoes are other potential sources of atmospheric mercury pollution. This mercury comes down in the rain and enters rivers, lakes, wetlands, and the ocean. Small anaerobic organisms methylate the mercury, turning it into a highly toxic compound. The methylmercury then accumulates in the aquatic food chain.
Methyl groups readily interact with human metabolism, especially in the nervous system. Methylation processes are vital for human health and proper function of your body. Obviously, it is highly undesirable to have a potent toxin attached to a methyl group, as it readily binds to sulfur containing structures, especially nerves. Once in place, it produces inflammatory damage to nerves—an adverse form of wear and tear. When exposure occurs during fetal development and early life, times of elevated nerve development, the toxin can be especially problematic.
Fish are an excellent source of protein and also an important source of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, depending on the fish. Yet, methylmercury poisoning is affecting the planet’s fish supply, which is highly problematic, especially for pregnant women and infants. This is one reason to rely on molecularly distilled fish oil, which removes the methylmercury.
It is possible that organic acids in tomatoes or lemon juice can have a chelating effect on methylmercury, although solid science reproducing initial reports is lacking. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some of these organic acids with your fish.
Another option that makes sense, especially if pregnant or nursing, is to take some chlorella prior to a having fish for a meal or on a regular basis if you routinely eat fish.
Researchers fed female mice drinking water that contained methylmercury, giving some of them chlorella. The mice and offspring were analyzed for methylmercury exposure. They found that chlorella reduced levels of methylmercury in the liver and kidneys, indicating better clearance. It prevented accumulation of methylmercury in the brain of the mother and stopped the transfer of methylmercury to the fetus.
Pollution is a fact of modern life. Protecting yourself is a top priority for your health. It is not a good idea to become paranoid about eating food, as there is a potential issue with just about any food. Taking some extra steps to help your body bind up toxic trash is a good strategy.
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