Hair Testing for Mercury before Considering Pregnancy

Hair Testing for Mercury before Considering Pregnancy
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The EPA safety limit on mercury in fish may not sufficiently protect pregnant women in the United States. This has led to a recommendation that fish-eating women get tested for mercury before considering getting pregnant.

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Because, as editorialized in the Journal of Pediatrics last year, “Almost all fish contain some mercury,” women who plan on getting pregnant may want to first get tested for mercury. “Due to the considerable uncertainty,” they showed that “specific guidelines for number of servings of fish, which are ‘safe for women of reproductive age,’ may not be sufficiently specific to practically prevent fetal risk.” So, they conclude: “Analysis of hair mercury may be warranted before pregnancy” in women who eat a lot of fish. It’s a simple test. All they need is a hair sample, because mercury contaminates your whole body when you eat it.

The reason they’re so concerned is because they found that “even at the number of [fish] servings recommended by the FDA [as safe], there were women with hair mercury [levels] above the LOAEL [lowest observable adverse effect level] of 0.3…”

And some question the federal safety limits. A recent review from researchers at Harvard and elsewhere on the adverse effects of methylmercury notes that the U.S. EPA limit suggests an adult should be exposed to no more than 50 micrograms. But if that’s the case, then seafood better contain less than 0.1 per gram, and “current regulations in the United States and the European Union allow up to 10 times as much”  mercury in fish as the EPA limit allows.

And they go on to criticize the EPA safety limit as being way too high itself. They argue that “Thus, (based on new data), the exposure limits estimated by the U.S. EPA [and international bodies] would need to be halved.”

So, our fish is allowed to have 20 times more mercury than may be considered safe.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena Mylchreest.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Bettina Neuefeind / flickr

Because, as editorialized in the Journal of Pediatrics last year, “Almost all fish contain some mercury,” women who plan on getting pregnant may want to first get tested for mercury. “Due to the considerable uncertainty,” they showed that “specific guidelines for number of servings of fish, which are ‘safe for women of reproductive age,’ may not be sufficiently specific to practically prevent fetal risk.” So, they conclude: “Analysis of hair mercury may be warranted before pregnancy” in women who eat a lot of fish. It’s a simple test. All they need is a hair sample, because mercury contaminates your whole body when you eat it.

The reason they’re so concerned is because they found that “even at the number of [fish] servings recommended by the FDA [as safe], there were women with hair mercury [levels] above the LOAEL [lowest observable adverse effect level] of 0.3…”

And some question the federal safety limits. A recent review from researchers at Harvard and elsewhere on the adverse effects of methylmercury notes that the U.S. EPA limit suggests an adult should be exposed to no more than 50 micrograms. But if that’s the case, then seafood better contain less than 0.1 per gram, and “current regulations in the United States and the European Union allow up to 10 times as much”  mercury in fish as the EPA limit allows.

And they go on to criticize the EPA safety limit as being way too high itself. They argue that “Thus, (based on new data), the exposure limits estimated by the U.S. EPA [and international bodies] would need to be halved.”

So, our fish is allowed to have 20 times more mercury than may be considered safe.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena Mylchreest.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Bettina Neuefeind / flickr

Doctor's Note

There is so much more mercury in fish compared to other foods that it can be used as a biomarker for fish consumption: see Hair Testing for Mercury. How much mercury exposure is there from fish, as compared to amalgam fillings and vaccinations? See Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna, and Mercury in Vaccinations vs. Tuna. Fish aren’t the only source of toxic heavy metals, though. Mercury has been found in both high fructose corn syrup-containing products (see Mercury in Corn Syrup?), and Ayervedic dietary supplements (Get the Lead Out). I also have videos on Aluminum in Vaccines vs. Food, and Arsenic in Chicken.

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Mercury Testing Recommended Before PregnancyHead Shrinking from Grilling Meat; and Fukushima Radiation and Seafood.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

14 responses to “Hair Testing for Mercury before Considering Pregnancy

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  1. There is so much more mercury in fish compared to other foods that it can be used as a biomarker for fish consumption–see Hair Testing for Mercury. How much mercury exposure is there from fish as compared to amalgam fillings and vaccinations? See Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna and Mercury in Vaccinations vs. Tuna. Fish aren’t the only source of toxic heavy metals, though. Mercury has been found in both high fructose corn syrup-containing products (see Mercury in Corn Syrup?) and Ayervedic dietary supplements (Get the Lead Out). There are also videos on aluminum in cheese, arsenic in chicken, and a thousand other nutrition subjects.




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  2. I think it is likely that many, many people have mercury poisoning and don’t realize it. When I started losing my hair about six years ago, I went to an integrative medical doctor who, among other things, tested me for heavy metal poisoning. I thought the test was unnecessary, but I went along with it. When the test came back, a score of nine in the mercury category was considered toxic. My score was 39! Mercury poisoning can cause hair loss, dry skin and mental confusion among other things.




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    1. Mine was 38 and I was eating fish but no other meats; convinced me to become vegan. My neuropathy persists, however, but my cognition and memory are back to normal. Also concentrated foods, such as organic rice sweetener & high fructose corn syrup may have high mercury levels. Now we only eat whole organic plant foods, nothing pre-processed.




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  3. This pregnant woman is so adorable! No makeup, bare belly, plain hair and completely stunning from the inside out. Absolutely inspirational. Hug her for me.




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    1. lol… did you know that heavy metals can accumulate in rice, broccoli and other vegetables? Yikes. Heavy metals can be found in certified organic foods as well. The synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides used in farms and big ag productions are contributing the the amount of heavy metals found in our food and water. When these synthetic fertilizers break down, they turn into in organic arsenic. http://www.renowebdesigner.com




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    1. There have been books written about hair tests. Eg. Cutler. Heavy metals can skew the results. Also low mercury in the hair test may not mean you are clear depending on what the other minerals are doing.




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  4. If a woman is pregnant and have been found to have high Mercury levels should is it OK or NOT to detox while pregnant? She sought a hair analysis from a Naturopath who stated that the removal of Mercury from her system would not be release into the blood stream and a detox via homeopathic means would be OK while pregnant. Comments?




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    1. No way! I did heavy metal detox with coriander, apple, ginger, lemon and honey smoothie every morning for about nine days and towards the evening I went banana every day. Dizzy, mental confusion, feeling like I’m going crazy.
      Shortly after drinking smoothie my hearing and vision has improved big time but in the evening :/….
      It is very strong detox!
      Don’t touch it when pregnant!




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  5. My experience is that hair testing has huge issue with false negatives. Pretty good for showing deficiencies but bunk for “excess”. Bodies store mercury and other heavy metals all over the place but unevenly with large deposits in some organs and nearly none elsewhere; hair often will miss significant body load




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  6. There are so many better ways to obtain all of the nutrients derived from fish. Why put yourself or others at risk? Why cause needless harm to these aquatic animals? Fishing and fish farming are very inhumane and ecologically destructive.

    Rich sources of omegas include: flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Concentrated omega-3 fatty acids are available in algae supplements (algae being the source from which fishes obtain omegas). If you eat seafood, please opt exclusively for the many marvelous vegan versions there are of virtually every type of seafood imaginable. They’re better for us, for the other animals, and for the planet. They’re also delicious! http://fishfeel.org/seafood/




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