It should be noted that selenium does protect tissues from the toxic effects of heavy metals, but excretion of toxic heavy metals are not increased by selenium therapy. Selenium apparently binds these metals, such as mercury and cadmium, rendering them less damaging to cells and tissues.
Selenium, as part of glutathione, does grab the heavy metals, but the bond is not very strong. High levels of glutathione do protect tissues from damage by mercury though, so taking selenium does help couteract the toxic effects of mercury.
Replacement reactions, also called fight for site, occur when mercury (usually with a +2 charge) grabs the biological spaces which should be filled by necessary minerals. Symptoms that can be caused by a deficiency of minerals displaced by mercury include:
- Magnesium: irregular heartbeat, receding gums
- Iron: anemia
- Copper: anemia, thyroid dysfunction, impaired digestion
- Zinc: anorexia nervosa, loss of taste and smell, loss of appetite, low libido, PMS
- Iodine: thyroid dysfunction
Mercury binding the bile lowers the ability of the body to absorb fat, leading to increased absorption of toxic oil-soluble chemicals such as solvents and pesticides like a dry sponge.
Selenium is an antioxidant which binds in place of oxygen and which protects against free radical damage from chemicals which can lead to cancer. Mercury can bind to selenium, making it useless for this protective purpose.
Detoxification systems such as metallothionein, cytochrome P-450, and bile are adversely affected by mercury. Metallothionein binds toxic metals in the body to prepare them for excretion. Mercury ties up this material so it cannot clear out other metals such as lead, cadmium, and aluminum.
Mercury from amalgam binds to -SH (sulfhydryl) groups, which are used in almost every enzymatic process in the body. Mercury therefore has the potential to disturb all metabolic processes.
Mercury slowly replaces iodine (it binds to the iodine-receptors) in these cells.