Using Fat to Beat Mercury Toxicity

Many people are scared about including too much fat in their diet, and it’s not surprising after the low fat crusade of the last decade has given us an incorrect notion that all fat is the baddie! But, what if I told you that if you’re regularly exposed to environmental toxins like mercury from amalgams, lead from old plumbing works and aluminium from deodorants and our food supply; then ensuring sufficient fat intake is one of the best strategies for improving your health?

In this article our Naturopath, Marianne, gives three good reasons for looking at the amount of fat you consume if you’re worried about mercury toxicity.

Increased Fat for Increased Excretion

We have already spoken about the role of Iodine in increasing the urinary excretion of mercury, but another important, though somewhat messier path, is through the gastro intestinal tract. Fecal elimination, more politely called bile elimination, is a major pathway for the elimination of mercury and other toxins from the body (National Library of Medicine).

The liver is one of the most amazing organs in the body and one of the major contributors in the bodies endeavours to detoxify from mercury and other heavy metals. Every day the liver secretes between 800 and 1,000 mL of a substance known as bile into the gastrointestinal tract. Bile is an interesting substance being used both for digestion and elimination at the same time:

  • it breaks down large dietary fat globules into a suspension of small fat globules to improve the efficiency of lipase in digesting fat;
  • it allows the liver to eliminate toxic substances such as drugs, heavy metals and hormones;

Increasing the liver’s production of bile can effectively increase the rate of excretion of these substances. Ensuring sufficient fat intake in the diet does exactly this (Davis). As one of the roles of bile is to assist in the digestion of fats, bile production will increase as the intake of good dietary fats increase.

Increased Fat for Increased Protection

Fat is not the only substance that increases bile production. Herbal supplements such as Cilantro, more commonly known as Coriander, have been shown to stimulate bile production, however, good dietary fats also confer another very important benefit in dealing with heavy metal toxicity.

Mercury is considered to be a neurotoxin, one that attacks the cells of the nervous system and brain. While a highly controversial topic, many studies have been done showing that mercury toxicity may be a factor in the development of conditions such as mood disorders, aggression, alzheimers, autism, multiple sclerosis and headaches. As such anything that can be done to protect our central nervous system and brain from the affects of mercury is a definite step in the right direction.

Our central nervous system and brain is largely composed of fats. Fats make up almost 66% of the brain and the protective myelin sheathing that surrounds nerves is 70% fat. Obviously ensuring adequate good dietary fat intake will provide the body with the raw materials necessary to build nervous system tissue. This is especially true for children and the developing body.

Increased Fat for Increased Happiness

We’ve already touched on the emerging link between degenerative CNS conditions and mercury. One of the most frequent complaints that we hear in our clinic from those exposed to high levels of mercury is depression, which, some sources have described as one of the first symptoms of mercury toxicity (Fleisher).

Establishing any clear explanation for the physiological process of how mercury impacts depression is complicated, however, a study conducted on women both with and without mercury amalgams showed a higher result on a standardised depression test for those with mercury amalgams than those without (Silberund). This clearly indicates that those with high levels of exposure to toxins such as mercury should be aware of how dietary strategies can enhance feelings of overall wellbeing and mood.

Not surprisingly, one such strategy is through the use of good dietary fats.

All of our “mood hormones” DHEA, progesterone and testosterone are derived from cholesterol. To ensure sufficient production of these hormones requires that we have sufficient levels of good cholesterol from good dietary fats. In repeated cases we have seen low levels of all the important mood related hormones where low levels of good cholesterol are present.

Interested? Want to Know More?

The benefits of dietary fats in combatting heavy metal and mercury toxicity are not a licence for over indulgence. Where total transit time is slow bad bacteria in the bowel can convert excess bile into a carcinogen. As with everything in the body, balance is important. A well balanced diet needs to contain adequate levels of fat, fibre and protein for health.

If you would like assistance in designing an optimum diet for health and wellbeing feel free to contact us on

Main References

  • Davis, Eric, “Health Hazards of Mercury” 7 December 2003. (11 October 2010)
  • Fleisher, M. A. Mercury: a 21st century killer. Vitamin Research News. 14(11):1-16, 2000.
  • National Library of Medicine, “Excretion of Toxicants” 28 November 2006. (11 October 2010)
  • Silberund, R., et al. Evidence that mercury from silver dental fillings may be an etiological factor in depression, anger and anxiety. Psychol Rep. 74(1):67-80, 1994.