What Is Mercury Poisoning and Why Is It Detrimental to Your Testosterone Levels?

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Just about every health enthusiast these days has heard about mercury poisoning.

They know the basics, such as that it’s found in high concentrations in large fish and may impact fetal development. However, mercury exposure is harmful to human health in more ways than one.

For guys, too much mercury may disrupt their very manlihood. Studies are revealing a direct correlation between mercury poisoning and testosterone levels

Don’t throw away those unopened cans of tuna just yet, though. Learn more about the implications of mercury poisoning and what you can do to prevent excessive exposure.

A Dummy’s Guide to Mercury Poisoning

Before you understand what mercury poisoning is, it helps to understand what mercury is.

This naturally occurring chemical element is found just about everywhere, including in the soil, water, and air. While liquid is mercury’s natural state, it is more typically found in a metallic solid form. Since the industrial era, though, large concentrations are found in the air due to the burning of coal, which is chock full of the element.

Mercury is actually quite useful; the fluorescent bulb screwed to your desk lamp is powered by mercury. Other items like thermometers, alkaline batteries, and even the children’s light-up sneakers popular in the mid-90s all contain mercury.

Despite its plethora of applications, mercury is not something you want in your body. According to New York’s Department of Health, long-term exposure can cause damage to the nervous system, and symptoms may include:

  • Numbness and tingly sensations in the fingers and toes
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Lack of coordination or vertigo
  • Vision/hearing/speech distortion
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Sleeplessness and insomnia

Children and unborn infants are particularly at risk because their brain and nervous system are still developing, and mercury toxicity has been linked to autism.

Correlation to Male Hormones

Okay, so you get that mercury doesn’t belong anywhere near your body. What’s the connection though between mercury poisoning and testosterone?

A study in Algeria consisting of men who worked in a mercury plant facility sheds light into this connection. The workers’ mercury levels were tested and compared with a controlled group of men with a similar state of health and socioeconomic status. The results conclude that the men working in the factory had on average a lower testosterone count. In addition, several of them also reported lower libido and sexual drive.

How Mercury Affects T-Levels

Mercury poisoning has been shown to cause zinc deficiency, which is a mineral vital for natural testosterone production.

Furthermore, once mercury enters the body, it is able to bypass the blood-testis barrier where it suppresses T production by collecting within the testicular Leydig cells. In laymen’s terms, the mercury accumulates in your man organ and puts a wrench in your scrotum’s ability to produce testosterone at normal levels.

Not only does this hamper muscle growth, but it also hinders your performance in the bedroom.

What’s more, mercury poisoning may also affect testosterone levels indirectly. One side effect of mercury toxicity is a loss of appetite and lowered calorie consumption has been linked to reduced T levels.

A study was performed on soldiers in training who were fed low, mid, or high-calorie diets during an intense, five-day training period marked by sleep deprivation. While all three groups exhibited a decreased T count, those who were fed low calories showed a 50% reduction, compared to just a 20% loss for those fed moderate and high-calorie diets.

How to Protect Yourself

First of all, like it or not, your body is already contaminated to some degree or another. This is unavoidable since mercury is practically everywhere from the air we breathe to the water we sip. However, to keep mercury levels from rising to dangerous levels, you don’t need to spend the rest of your life in a hazmat suit or only drink water from a spring. Here are a few ways for keeping mercury toxicity at bay:

Limit Fish Intake

It’s rather sad when you think about the fact that we have polluted our world so much that even one of Earth’s healthiest food sources now contains toxic impurities.

By all means, continue to eat fish, which is a high source of omega-3s. This oil has been shown to increase lutein, the hormone that triggers your testes to produce testosterone.  However, limit your intake to 12-ounces (roughly two tuna cans) a week.

Also, try to stick to the smaller fish variety, such as sardines or herring, which have less mercury concentration compared to larger fish like king mackerel or swordfish.

Limit High Fructose Corn Syrup

As if you didn’t need any more reasons to avoid processed sugars, here’s another reason that will blow your mind away: HFCS is made using a process known as chloralkali.

This method uses elemental mercury for converting salt water into common chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide and chlorine gas. Mercury contaminants have been found in food products containing high levels of artificial sugar.

Mercury poisoning aside, studies have also suggest that high sugar intake significantly reduces the level of testosterone circulating in the blood. In one test, subjects’ T levels dropped by as much as 25% after being given a sugary drink and remained low for the next two hours. Furthermore, 15% of the subjects experienced testosterone levels so low that they could be medically diagnosed as having hypogonadism.

Properly Dispose of Mercury-Filled Items

If your thermometer or light bulb breaks, don’t simply vacuum up the pieces as this may cause mercury vapors to spread. Here’s the proper procedure outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency:

  1. Have everyone (including pets) leave the room
  2. Air out the room for five minutes by completely opening the windows
  3. Shut off all AC and heating in the room
  4. Pick up all the pieces with a disposable towel; throw all pieces in a heavy-duty trash bag and discard them immediately in your outdoor trash bin.

Do I Need to Be Concerned?

While Mercury toxicity is a legitimate health concern, there’s no need to get all panicky and brace for a pandemic. For men, there is certainly an established link between mercury poisoning and testosterone. However, there is no need to treat mercury toxicity as if it’s the black plague-incarnate. Go ahead and see a doctor if you’re concerned; otherwise, just stick to common sense living, and you have no reason to fear a compromised T count caused by mercury exposure.

Resources:

https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/chemicals/hsees/mercury/mercury_exposure_levels.htm

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/234523510_Mercury_Vapour_and_Some_Reproductive_Parameters_in_Human

http://www.evenbetterhealth.com/heavy-metal-poisoning-mercury.php

http://www.peaktestosterone.com/Testosterone_FishOil.aspx

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl

http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/sports+nutrition/testosterone+boosters/showarticle.aspx?id=222

http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/cut-sugar-boost-testosterone/

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The TestShock Blog is your #1 resource for men’s health advice.

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Christopher Walker

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