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June 21, 2018

By Max Gruber, Contributing Columnist

Mercury poisoning is an under-the-radar problem. Most
people are aware that mercury exposure exists but they're
not quite sure where in their day they encounter the
poisonous metal. We'll get to that. But what is clear is that
mercury exposure is something you should care about.  
Why? Mercury exposure can lower the IQ of children and
it is not clear what it does to the IQ's of adults.

Brazil nuts are the single richest food source of selenium.
Unfortunately, the only time most of us eat Brazil nuts is
around Christmas when you can find them in the fruit and
nut bowl. What's the proof that connects eating Brazil nuts
with protection from mercury toxicity?

Eating a Selenium Rich Diet Protects Your Nerves Against
Mercury Damage

In 2010, a team of scientists from  University of North
Dakota led by Dr. N. V. Ralston examined the effects of
selenium on mercury toxicity.

Lab mice were put into separate groups that were either
given no selenium in their diets or fed a diet rich in

Then, the mice were exposed to levels of mercury that
would normally cause neurotoxicity -- brain and nerve

The mice without selenium did in fact develop nerve and
brain damage.

But the mice that were fed a diet rich in selenium suffered
no damage.  Even those mice that were fed a low selenium
diet experienced far less neuron damage than would be

Selenium also can reverse many of the symptoms of
mercury toxicity, the researchers noted.

What Are the Symptoms of Mercury Toxicity?

People who are exposed to toxic levels of mercury exhibit
the following symptoms:

Metallic taste in the mouth

periodontal disease

inability to concentrate or poor concentration

Lower IQ, for children exposed to mercury, especially  
during her pregnancy

Metabolic disorders

feeling tired, fatigued
Depression and anxiety


Muscle and joint pain

Frequent infections and inflammation

Where Are You Most likely to be Exposed to Mercury

Most people are exposed to mercury by eating fish rich in
the metal such as swordfish.

You may also be exposed to mercury of your dentist uses
it in tooth fillings. Children sometimes are exposed to
mercury when they bite through thermometers.

If you work in a factory that uses the metal, you may also
be exposed to higher levels.

Brazil Nuts Are the One of Foods Richest in Selenium

Among all foods, Brazil nuts have the highest amounts of
selenium. An average sized nut contains between 68–91
mcg of selenium, according to the
National Institutes of
.  That's more than the Food and Nutrition Board's
daily recommended intake for selenium of 55 mcg for both
men and women.

Most of us are not selenium deficient. The average
American consumes about 108 mcg of selenium per day
through foods and supplements. But that doesn't mean
that we are consuming an optimal amount of selenium.
Many doctors believe that the amount of nutrients
recommended as a daily intake are on the low end, just
enough to keep you from being sick. If you are exposing
yourself to mercury, you may need to add a Brazil nut to
bolster your selenium status.

Your Selenium Blood Levels Decline Over Time

Some studies have found that your blood selenium levels
decline over time, for reasons not entirely clear to

With this decline in selenium comes a parallel decline in
cognitive ability and an increase in dementia.

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Eating Brazil nuts can protect against
mercury toxicity
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