Mercury is highly toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in body tissues including the brain. Besides occupational exposure, most human exposure to mercury is through dental amalgams, seafoods, and vaccinations. Mercury toxicity can cause nervous system damage, leading to symptoms such as paresthesia, mood changes, and sensory disturbances, while very excessive exposure can also lead to renal toxicity, respiratory failure and death.
Mercury and selenium have a very high affinity for each other and form a tight complex; as a result, mercury reduces the biological availability of selenium and may inhibit the formation of selenium-dependent enzymes, affecting thyroid function in the same way as selenium deficiency or arsenic exposure. This is particularly problematic in people with inadequate selenium intake and consequent low selenium levels. Selenium can protect against mercury toxicity by sequestering mercury, reducing its bioavailability.
There are three forms of mercury in the environment: elemental, found in batteries, thermometers, and dental amalgams; inorganic compounds, primarily mercuric chloride, present in skin-lightening creams; and organic compounds, primarily methylmercury, found in sea foods. Elemental mercury is most commonly breathed in as a vapor and absorbed through the lungs, while inorganic and organic compounds are ingested and absorbed through the intestine. The predominant form of mercury in urine is inorganic mercury. Urinary mercury level is an excellent biomarker for whole body exposure to both elemental and inorganic mercury.
Invivo Clinical now offers mercury urine assay as part of the comprehensive thyroid and elements profile from ZRT Labs.
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