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Mercury and Testosterone

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With an increase in industrial processes, levels of environmental mercury have increased massively. This has led to increased exposure in the atmosphere and contaminated food products.

We’ve been told to eat fish on a regular basis – it’s a great source of healthy fats. But what if too much could be bad for our T levels?

In this article we’ll take a look at mercury and it’s potential to make testosterone levels plummet.

  • What is mercury?
  • Does it decrease testosterone?
  • How to decrease heavy metal exposure
  • How to support and optimize your testosterone levels

What is mercury?

Mercury (Hg) is a chemical element. It is a heavy, silvery metal that is liquid at room temperature and is a widespread contaminant that enters the environment from a variety of industrial processes. It is used in a number of products including manual blood pressure devices, thermometers and barometers.

This metal has no biological role in humans – we don’t need it for any bodily processes. As such, any increases in the body are highly toxic to many organs [1]. Heavy metal poisoning can occur if you come into contact with water soluble forms of Hg –  this could occur via inhaling its vapor for example.

Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can include headaches, irritability, mood swings and cognitive impairments. In serious cases, it can cause kidney malfunction, respiratory failure, and even death.

Fish can store Hg in their muscles and internal organs, usually in the form of methyl-Hg, Naturally, fish that are higher up in the food chain will have higher concentrations due to them eating other fish and retaining their blood levels in their own tissues. Tuna, shark and swordfish can have particularly high levels.


Mercury and Sperm Motility

Human trials are quite rare as it isn’t impossible to purposely put humans at risk through heavy metal exposure. Therefore any studies using humans tend to be in those who are exposed as part of their occupation or by incubating sperm cells.

In one human trial, research published in Pharmacology and Toxicology [2] it was discovered that when sperm was tested via incubation, 30 minutes of heavy metal exposure resulted in less than 5% of sperm still being mobile.

Additionally, exposure also significantly reduced sperm count and reduced libido.

But could Hg exposure decrease testosterone levels? Let’s have a look at what the research says…


Hg-and-T-Levels

Key Point: Mercury has no biological function and is extremely toxic, even with small amounts of exposure.


Does mercury decrease testosterone?

#Study 1: Moussa et al [1]

Many of the studies into heavy metal poisoning have been done using rats. Not only are they chosen to spare human health, they have very similar testicular tissue to men so any results can be transferred to us quite easily.

In this study, 20 rats were given either plain water or water contaminated with methyl-Hg over an 8 week period.

Results showed that plasma T levels plummeted significantly in the contaminated group. Not only that but T concentration in the seminiferous tubules fluid – a specific part of the testes where sperm cells mature – dropped by around 55% too. 

#Study 2: Barregård et al [3]

This study investigated if the effects of exposure to Hg would affect function of the testes, adrenal glands or thyroid.

41 chloralkali workers – a type of industrial process that uses heavy metals, were tested for a number of hormones including testosterone, thyroid hormones and prolactin – a hormone that is known to decrease T levels.

The results showed that in those who had higher levels of Hg exposure, T levels were lowest – as were thyroid levels. The authors concluded that male endocrine functions were affected by exposure to Hg vapor.

#Study 3: da Silva et al [4]

In this publication, exposure to methyl-Hg was measured over a 14 day period in 3 groups – with oral doses of 0.5, 1.0 and 3.0mg/kg MeHg, respectively.

The group that was administered 3mg/kg were found to have decreased T levels. All groups – even the lowest dose one – saw changes to their testes. Inflammation, prostate changes and potential prostatic disease were all observed.

#Study 4: McVey et al [5]

This study was an interesting one as it looked at the effects of different Hg in combination with different dietary fats and proteins on T levels. Something that may be transferable to humans and our typical diet.

Groups of rats were given different foods over a 28 day period. These included different protein sources or different fat sources as well as varying amounts of Hg.

Similar to #study 2, at 3mg/kg T levels were significantly reduced. Interestingly, out of all foods fish meal offered some protection against toxicity, but others such as fish oil did not.


Heavy-Metals-and-Health

Key Point: Mercury can decrease testosterone and have negative effects on testicular tissue.


How to protect yourself from Hg

1.Limit fish consumption

In the quest for muscle gain and T boosting you’ll no doubt be eating protein-rich foods on a regular basis. By limiting your consumption of fish to no more than twice per week, you can avoid methyl-Hg toxicity.

If you do eat fish then go for low heavy metal-containing sources such as salmon, crab, trout, skipjack tuna or haddock. 

2.Avoid amalgam fillings

Whilst it may be common to have amalgam fillings – liquid Hg and alloy metal mixture – these can leach into your body, particularly if they become loose or you chew gum, or you grind your teeth. Whilst the FDA maintain that these are safe, studies have shown that chewing gum can increase heavy metals in human breath, as well as blood concentrations in those with amalgam fillings [6].

3. Eat a glutathione-rich diet

This potent antioxidant is very effective at detoxifying exposure to heavy metals. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will ensure you achieve recommended levels of this protein building block. Avocado, spinach and asparagus are all high in glutathione – as are melons and grapefruits


Summary – the effects of mercury on testosterone

Mercury is a heavy metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is a contaminant that enters the environment from a variety of industrial processes and has become more prevalent as industries expandIt is used in a number of products including manual blood pressure devices, thermometers and barometers.

It has no biological value and is toxic to humans – even small amounts of methyl-Hg exposure can cause a number of adverse reactions including headaches and cognitive impairments; as well as kidney malfunction, respiratory failure, and even death.

Research suggests not only is it detrimental to your health but it can also make your T levels plummet. Not only that, it can also affect the size and function of your testes too.

There are measures that you can take in order to protect yourself from exposure to this heavy metal such as ensuring sufficient glutathione in the diet and not over consuming fish.


How to Boost your Testosterone Levels

Taking a supplement such as TestoFuel helps to keep your T levels high by providing all of the necessary ingredients needed to optimize male hormone levels.

As a premium, natural testosterone booster containing only the best quality, natural ingredients, TestoFuel can support:

  • Muscle Growth and Strength – Bigger size and stronger lifts
  • Improved Recovery – Faster growth and less soreness
  • Enhanced Enhanced Energy – More motivation to train stronger for longer
  • Healthy Libido – Ramp up sex drive and improve confidence

TestoFuel is ideal for improving your performance both in and out of the gym, and helping you attain that all-important muscular physique.


Learn more about TestoFuel


References

  1. Moussa, H et al. Accumulation of mercury and its effects on testicular functions in rats intoxicated orally by methylmercury. Andrologia. 2011; 43(1): 23-7
  2. Ernst, E et al. Effect of organic and inorganic mercury on human sperm motility. Pharmacol Toxicol. 1991; 68(6): 440-4.
  3. Barregård, L et al. Endocrine function in mercury exposed chloralkali workers. Occup Environ Med. 1994; 51(8): 536-40
  4. da Silva, DAF et al. Oral exposure to methylmercury modifies the prostatic microenvironment in adult rats. Int J Exp Pathol. 2012; 93(5): 354–360.
  5. McVey, MJ et al.  An investigation of the effects of methylmercury in rats fed different dietary fats and proteins: testicular steroidogenic enzymes and serum testosterone levels. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008; 46(1): 270-9
  6. Abraham, JE et al. The Effect of Dental Amalgam Restorations on Blood Mercury Levels. JDR. 1984. 63; 1: 71-73

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