Christopher Shade, PhD, is CEO and founder of the company located in Lafayette, CO. Shade told NutraIngredients-USA that his background in environmental metals chemistry has helped him to differentiate his company from the murky field of detoxification dietary supplements, a field that along with legitimate players features companies pushing dubious claims about all of the hidden dangers in the modern environment, dangers that only the product formulators are aware of and can do something about. It smacks of visions of the ‘magic pill’. Just remove this one toxin from your body that you didn’t even know was there and all will be well, or so the message seems to go.
Mercury in the food chain
Quicksilver, as the name implies, was built on a foundation of mercury detoxification. This metal, which has serious deleterious effects on the nerves, organ functioning and other body systems, has found its way into the food chain, Shade said. The main exposure to mercury is from eating fish, he said. Fish, especially some of the fatty fish species that health authorities recommend for its omega-3s content, can bioaccumulate mercury that finds its way into the oceanic food web via atmospheric deposition. The other way for consumers to be exposed to mercury is through eroding mercury amalgam dental fillings, Shade said.
“We kind of inched into the space in 2008, when we were doing mostly environmental work. I had developed a specialized testing method to detect mercury. When we came out of the environmental work I had a very sophisticated understanding of how mercury binds to various chelators,” Shade said.
Concerns about mercury in fish are borne out to some extent by warnings about when not to consume certain types of fish (when pregnant, for example). And the concern is valid enough for FDA to maintain a list of mercury content of various common forms of seafood. Concerns about dental fillings are more tenuous, however; a 2012 paper published in Toxicology International said the primary risk of mercury exposure associated with dental amalgams occurs when they are installed or removed. “The current use of amalgam has not posed a health risk apart from allergic reactions in few patients,” the authors concluded.
Athletes, executives as target consumers
Nevertheless, Shade maintained that detoxification can be of vital interest to several different categories of consumers. Among these are high performance athletes, especially strength athletes. These consumers put a huge amount of food through their bodies, sometimes as much as 7,000 calories a day or more, and therefore run the risk of greater exposure to toxins. Another category of consumer that the company has targeted is high-level business executives who work long hours and have to perform mentally at a high level under demanding conditions. Complaints of fatigue or ‘mental fog’ are common in this group, Shade said.
Shade said the mercury detoxification protocol he came up with relies on the body’s glutathione pathway. This hard-to-deliver antioxidant led him to consider advanced delivery modes, including liposomes. These tiny vesicles, which are formed from phospholipids and mimic the structure of cell membranes, have been shown to boost the absorption of a wide variety of compounds, including many drugs. But Shade said his investigation of the liposomes available on the market from contract formulators led him to conclude that if he wanted it done right, he’d have to do it himself.
“I first worked with other companies that were making liposomes and I found that they were not living up to their claims. I dove into that and developed my own methods, and now we use pharmaceutical-type processes at our plant in Lafayette,” he said.
The development of that delivery system has been so successful that the company now markets a wide variety of supplements along with the main glutathione detoxification lines. Other ingredients include B vitamins, Vitamin C and CoQ10.
Targeting business executives helps get around one of the issues with high-quality liposomes: their cost. For a consumer concerned about high levels of mercury in their body, Shade’s system could run $800 or more for a three-month supply. But he said after the first course of use, consumers can drop down to a more affordable ‘maintenance’ level. And he said integrative health practitioners have told him that even at that eye-popping cost, the supplement regime is less expensive than IV chelation treatment. And Shade believes that liposomes are the way of the future, because the absorption advantages can make up for the high initial cost.
“It’s more expensive than what people are used to paying for supplements. But I think with liposomes, when done right, the absorption benefit totally makes up for the higher initial cost. At the low end we commonly see a two-times and very commonly a 10-times increase. And with some compounds like curcumin it can go as high as a 100-times increase,” he said.