Mercury Detox Using the Selenium Method (8/8/2019)
Mercury can be inhaled as mercury vapor, absorbed in the gut from ingested food and water, or injected in the body by vaccinations. Common sources of mercury include amalgam fillings, fish, and vaccines containing Thimerosal. Mercury’s toxicity primarily stems from its ability to tightly bind with the essential element selenium and thereby lower available selenium levels in the body creating a selenium deficiency1.
Selenium is used in some enzymes to protect us from oxidative effects of toxic metals commonly found in the body such as aluminum, manganese, nickel, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Selenoenzymes are involved in reducing the oxidative effects of these metals by reducing the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by these metals in the body. ROS causes damage to our bodies by weakening and killing mitochondria and the cells powered by these mitochondria.
Mercury is particularly toxic because it induces ROS that kills mitochondria and prevents selenoenzymes from providing protection from ROS by both creating selenium deficiency and inhibiting selenoenzymes. Selenium supplementation provides four levels of protection from mercury:
1) Prevents mercury induced selenium deficiency in the brain2,3
2) Prevents mercury induced mitochondrial death and neurotoxicity in the brain due to ROS2,3,4
3) Facilitates detoxification of mercury by elimination of mercury in the urine5
4) Facilitates detoxification of mercury by formation of insoluble mercury selenide (HgSe)1
It has been demonstrated that humans taking 100mcg of selenomethionine daily for twelve weeks had significantly enhanced urinary excretion of mercury5. In those with mercury induced selenium deficiency it may take on average 2 - 4 weeks to first restore the body’s selenium reserves before enhanced mercury excretion is observed (See Figure 1)5.
The selenium method of mercury detox requires taking orally a selenomethonine supplement, daily for at least 12 weeks:
· Children 0 to 3 years of age: 25mcg/day
· Children 4 to 8 years of age: 50mcg/day
· Children 9 to 13 years of age: 100mcg/day
· Adolescents 14 to 18 years of age and adults: 200mcg/day
Figure 1. Mercury concentrations in urine samples on different days, where the supplementation group took 100mcg/day Se-enriched yeast (SelenoPrecise, Pharma Nord, Denmark) and the placebo group did not take a selenium supplement. The supplementation group was 53 volunteers (27 men and 26 women) and the placebo group was 50 volunteers (25 men and 25 women). The results were statistical significance, as indicated with ++ p < 0.01 and +++ p < 0.001, compared with the placebo group5.
Supplements for human use are not regulated by the U.S. FDA. Because of this some supplement manufacturers have incorrectly labeled product on the market that contains no selenomethionine or less than the amount stated on the label6-8. Therefore products with third party certification are recommended. Certifying agencies include: Consumerlab.com, NSF International, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), and UL. There are commercial test laboratories that also perform third party testing for purity and percent of selenium as selenomethionine.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a scientific opinion on acceptable selenium-enriched yeasts produced as selenomethionine supplements for human use. The source of selenium must be sodium selenite and the resulting product should contain 60 to 85% selenomethionine with less the 10% additional organic selenium and less than 1% inorganic selenium, such as residual sodium selenite. The dried product should contain no more than 2.5mg of selenium per gram9.
I am aware of only one selenium-enriched yeast supplement that has been tested by third parties. This is Bio-SelenoPrecise® tablets manufactured in Denmark by Pharma Nord under patent no. 1 478 732 B1. This type of L-selenomethionine supplement is 88.7% absorbed in Danish men with high habitual selenium intake10, however only about 34% may actually be free selenomethionine after gastrointestinal digestion11. Pharma Nord packages tablets of Bio-SelenoPrecise® as 50, 100, and 200mcg of selenomethionine. Pharma Nord selenomethionine has been checked by two laboratories and it has 69-83% L-selenomethionine, 5% or less additional organic selenium, including selenocysteine, less than 1% inorganic selenium, and less than 2.2mg/gram of selenium. These results are summarized as product 3a, 3b, and 4 in EFSA’s Table 1 and they meet EFSA specifictions for selenium-enriched yeast9.
Some selenomethionine supplements are made with higher purity than supplements made from selenium-enhanced yeast. However, it has been reported that plasma selenium is significantly higher when taking Pharma Nord Bio-SelenoPrecise® than seen in a comparable population of human subjects taking the same dose of higher purity selenomethionine12.
Manufactures of high purity selenomethionine who have their product third party certified and/or tested include Sabinsa Corporation. Their Selenium SeLECT® product contains a minimum of 1.25% of L-selenomethionine, measured by HPLC, and 98.75% of dicalcium phosphate, measured by titration. Therefore it is 100% selenium as selenomethionine. Sabinsa Corp. has both UPC and NSF International product certification. Selenium SeLECT® is packaged and sold by Swanson (100mcg and 200mcg capsules) and Vitacost (200mcg capsules). Make sure the Supplement Facts on the bottles state: “Selenium from (as) Selenium SeLECT® L-selenomethionine”.
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the U.S. Institute of Medicine has set the tolerable upper intake levels (UL) for selenium based upon age, including both selenium obtained from food and selenium obtained from supplements, as indicated in Table 113.
Symptoms of Chronic Mercury Toxicity and Selenium Deficiency
The risk of hypothyroidism is increased with exposure to mercury and/or selenium deficiency because a selenoenzyme (e.g. iodothyronine deiodinase) is required to make the thyroid bioactive hormone T3 from prohormone T414. Mercury both inhibits this enzyme and slows its production by creating a selenium deficiency15. Symptoms of hypothyroidism, mercury toxicity and selenium deficiency all include:
· Memory Loss
· Brain Fog
· Muscle Weakness
Mercury and/or selenium deficiency also causes a number of additional symptoms not seen in hypothyroidism:
· Physical Tremors16
· Impaired Language Skills18-21
· Impaired Psychomotor Functions18-21
· Mild Cognitive Impairment in Adults17,18
Outcomes associated with prenatal mercury exposure include the loss of IQ points, and decreased performance on tests, including memory, attention, language skills, visuospatial cognition and psychomotor fuctions18,19. Outcomes associated with prenatal selenium deficiency also include both impaired language skills and psychomotor function20,21.
Acute Mercury Toxicity
When exposed to a large dose of mercury during a relatively short time period you should seek immediate medical assistance. There are some chelating agents for mercury that work faster than selenomethionine. For instance, severe elemental mercury poisoning has been managed by a combination of selenium and N-acetylcysteine (NAC)25,26.
FACEBOOK GROUP: If you would like to learn more my wife Laurie Adamson has set up a facebook group 'Mercury Detox using the Selenium Method' https://www.facebook.com/groups/341263176792506/
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