Brain Benefits of Aerobic Exercise Lost to Mercury Exposure

 In Naturopathic News

According to a study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, cognitive function improves with aerobic exercise, but not for people exposed to high levels of mercury before birth. They found that adults with high prenatal exposure to methylmercury, which mainly comes from maternal consumption of fish with high mercury levels, did not experience the faster cognitive processing and better short term memory benefits of exercise that were seen in those with low prenatal methylmercury exposures.

The scientists suspect that prenatal exposure to methylmercury, known to have toxic effects on the developing brain and nervous system, may limit the ability of nervous system tissues to grow and develop in response to increased aerobic fitness.

“We know that neurodevelopment is a delicate process that is especially sensitive to methylmercury and other environmental toxins, but we are still discovering the lifelong ripple effects of these exposures,” one researcher said. “This research point to adult cognitive function as a new area of concern.”

Along with other tests, a range of cognitive tests were performed related to short-term memory, verbal comprehension and knowledge, psychomotor speed, visual processing, long-term storage and retrieval, and cognitive processing speed.

The researcher added, “We know that aerobic exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but these findings suggest that early-life exposure to pollutants may reduce the potential benefits. We need to pay special attention to the environment we create for pregnant moms and babies.”

So, if you are pregnant, watch out for eating fish with high mercury levels. Instead go for something like salmon, shrimp, Pollock, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, or cod.

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review ( and NaturalPath (, has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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