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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


GONZALEZ-ESTECHA, Montserrat et al. Methylmercury exposure in the general population; toxicokinetics; differences by gender, nutritional and genetic factors. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2014, vol.30, n.5, pp.969-988. ISSN 1699-5198.

Mercury is an environmental toxicant that causes numerous adverse effects on human health and natural ecosystems. The factors that determine the existance of adverse effects, as well as their severity are, among others: the chemical form of mercury (elemental, inorganic, organic), dosis, age, period of exposure, pathways of exposure and environmental, nutritional and genetic factors. In the aquatic cycle of mercury, once it has been deposited, it is transformed into methylmercury due to the action of certain sulphate-reducing bacteria, which bioaccumulates in the aquatic organisms and moves into the food chain. The methylmercury content of large, long-lived fish such as swordfish, shark, tuna or marlin, is higher. Methylmercury binds to protein in fish and is therefore not eliminated by cleaning or cooking the fish. Fetuses and small children are more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of methylmercury from the consumption of contaminated fish. Methylmercury is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and crosses the blood-brain barrier and the placenta. The intake of certain dietary components such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, selenium, fiber, thiol compounds, certain phytochemicals and other nutrients can modify methylmercury bioaccesibility and its toxicity. Apart from environmental factors, genetic factors can influence mercury toxicity and explain part of the individual vulnerability.

Keywords : Methylmercury; Fish; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Selenium; Genotype.

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