Don't Stress, but Eating Certain Fish May Be the Cause of Your Hypertension

Mercury

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD and Franz Gliederer, MD, MPH (Proactive Health Labs)

Typically, hypertension is diagnosed by measuring your blood pressure. A doctor may take many blood pressure readings over time to determine whether you have hypertension. And if the readings fall within a certain range, you may be diagnosed as hypertensive and perhaps prescribed medications to treat the hypertension.

Some physicians may also recommend lifestyle changes to reduce hypertension, such as diet and exercise, depending on the severity of your hypertension.

And there are many ways you can be proactive about preventing hypertension.

Some of these include:

  • Not smoking
  • Watching your alcohol consumption
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy diet & watching your sodium intake
  • Managing stress & getting annual exams
  • Exercising
  • Limiting caffeine intake

But there is one overlooked cause of hypertension - mercury exposure.

So what does mercury have to do with hypertension?

For decades, the toxic effects of mercury were associated mainly with the central nervous system. However, many studies support the finding that inorganic mercury may also produce toxicity affecting the heart. “In the cardiovascular system, mercury induces hypertension in humans and animals that has wide-ranging consequences, including alterations in endothelial [lining of the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels] function,” reports the NIH.

“The mechanism by which mercury produces toxic effects on the cardiovascular system is not fully elucidated, but this mechanism is believed to involve an increase in oxidative stress. Exposure to mercury increases the production of free radicals…,” says the NIH. 

Sources of mercury exposure?

Elevated mercury levels are quite common in the general public, secondary to ingestion of higher mercury levels in certain fish. The type of fish that are contaminated are usually those at the top of the food chain with a longer lifespan - fish that primarily consume many other fish. Higher mercury levels are found in shark, tuna, swordfish and king mackerel. For a list of fish with high mercury, read here.

Currently, the general population is also exposed to mercury from these other sources:

  • Dental amalgam
  • Thimerosal contained in vaccines
  • Industries using chlorine or caustic soda
  • Coal Mines
  • Fluorescent lamp industries

According to the American Society of Hypertension, “[m]ercury has no known physiologic role in human metabolism, and the human body has no mechanisms to actively excrete mercury. Mercury thus accumulates during life so that the average 165-lb person has a total body burden of about 13 mg of mercury.”

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) reported “[i]n 2004, the Joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United National) / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) established that the safe concentration of methylmercury intake, without the appearance of neurological disorders, is 1.6 mg/kg of body weight.” (However, this concentration may not be safe for pregnant women, because fetuses are more sensitive to exposure to methylmercury).

How can we treat excess mercury exposure?

There are various ways to treat abnormally high levels of mercury, including chelating agents, intravenous fluids, vitamins and other general supportive care. Discuss these methods with a competent doctor who will advise what is best for your body.  

Less toxic levels can be treated by identifying and removing the sources which caused the exposure. Certain plant-based supplements like Chlorella are also frequently used to bind excess heavy metal.

How can you be proactive?

Fortunately, advances in medicine have enabled us to test our bodies for things that may be harmful to our health. This is why it is so important to not wait for symptoms to appear. You may feel perfectly fine, but you could have dangerously high levels of minerals in your body.

And if you know you have hypertension, ask your doctor to test more than just your blood pressure.

“Mercury toxicity should be evaluated in any patient with hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, cerebrovascular accident, or other vascular disease. Specific testing for acute and chronic toxicity and total body burden using hair, toenail, urine, and serum should be performed,” according to the American Society for Hypertension.

So your hypertension may be a product of too much mercury exposure, not necessarily your diet or other lifestyle choices.

As a society, we have become accustomed to treating symptoms and ignoring the cause of diseases. Where possible, the wise choice has to be to search for the cause of diseases, because that may eliminate the problem in the first place.

Let’s continue to be proactive and educate each other, so we can live our healthiest and happiest lives.  

Enjoy your healthy life!

About the Authors

Franz Gliederer, MD, MPH is a doctor with Proactive Health Labs. He is a specialist in Preventive Medicine with a Medical Doctorate from the University of Vienna, Austria and a Master’s Degree from the University of California Public Health School. Dr. G has a diverse medical background including three residencies in Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine and Family Practice. He is a co-author of Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.

Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (www.phlabs.org), a national non-profit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her most recent book is Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.

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