Dominick Cardone shares his journey to restoration from mercury poisoning

When Dominick Cardone earned his IFBB Pro status in 2014, he knew the road to stardom would be a long one, but you don't win a show like NPC Nationals without the potential to achieve greatness. So Cardone was excited for the journey ahead and gave everything he had to the sport. However, that journey began with the unfortunate death of his mother while he was preparing for the New York Pro.

“My mother became very ill and I was in the hospital with her. She passed away three weeks ago and I went ahead and attended. That show was a disaster and that's why I fell off the grid for a couple of years," he said.

Dominick Cardone had been looking to return to the stage and he had a great lead in the form of seven-time Olympia 212 champion Flex Lewis. Lewis was a mentor and training partner to Cardone, and he was keen to return to the stage. His diet was also on point, eating fish as one of his main sources of protein because it's so lean. It turned out that what he thought was a calculated strategy did more harm than good.

"In early 2020, it started with some gut issues — stomach pain, irregular bowel movements, and then it became skin issues," Cardone said. "Then I started losing weight and I couldn't pump at the gym no matter what I did."

Courtesy of Dominick Cardone

Dominick Cardone tried to find out what was going on by talking to doctors, but he also wanted to be kept in the loop. So he continued with training and nutrition throughout 2020.

“I was getting worse and worse and no doctor could give answers. w I have a lot less energy – lethargy all day,” he explained. While the physical toll it took was visible, it was the issues that weren't visible that were worst for Cardone.

“The mental part of it got worse every day. It felt like a roller coaster. Major depression, trouble concentrating, when I wasn't depressed it was just 'blah' he said. "I just couldn't find happiness and in 2021 thoughts of suicide started. I would just sit on the couch and start thinking about how to end my life."

Lewis had raised concerns during this process and connected Cardone to a colon specialist who ran several tests using stool, blood and urine samples. That was March 2021, and Cardone had been dealing with this issue for over a year. At this point, the answer was finally revealed.

"The mercury levels were through the roof," Cardone said. "It just went through the roof."

When asked why no other doctors could find the cause, Cardone said it was because not all options were considered.

" one thought of looking for metal values," he shared. w that he knew the cause, it was time to find a solution.

"Obviously, I stopped eating fish," he said. Among the fish he ate the most were tuna, yellowtail, and mackerel. "I ate tuna several times a week, by the kilo." He also revealed that he ate a lot of sushi after moving to Las Vegas. There was some progress after eliminating all fish from his diet.

"Two months went by and there was some improvement, but it was pretty much just making ends meet." Cardone reached out to another IFBB pro bodybuilder with experience of mercury poisoning, Jason Huh.

"Jason told me what kind of doctor to look for, what kind of treatments were effective for him and his wife. He took a million pounds off my back.”

After turning to Huh's suggested doctor, Cardone underwent multiple treatments, including pills, IV fluids, and other forms of therapy. He also learned a lot about mercury and mercury poisoning. One misconception is that there is an "acceptable" amount that the body can handle. According to WebMD, mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can be released through pollution. It can fall off and accumulate in bodies of water and become methylmercury, allowing it to be ingested by fish. The levels vary depending on the amount of fish.

“Mercury actually has no use in the body. It's a heavy metal, it's toxic and the body has no use for it," said the 28-year-old. “The peak of the test was 0.004. I was on April 20th. I was literally completely off the charts.”

After several months of treatment, Dominick Cardone has finally seen tangible progress. Although he is not yet at 100 percent, he is significantly better than before his first appointment with the intestinal specialist. He still has some issues to contend with.

"The only thing I really need to work on is my memory," he said. "My short-term memory took a big hit from the mercury. I still have to work on my speech. I can organize my thoughts and I don't stutter as much anymore."

From a consciousness perspective, Cardone wants to turn that negative into a positive by helping other people learn how to prevent him from going through the troubles he's had.

"Know what you're eating and by all means limit the fish you eat and know the mercury levels," he said clearly. “You can go online and just look up the mercury content. Tuna, swordfish and yellowtail will be at the top of that list.”

He also advocated seeing more than one doctor if you can't find an answer to what's bothering you.

“If you feel like you are dealing with high metal levels, see a functional medicine doctor and get tested. They can show you how to progress. Metal does not leave the body naturally. It will degrade your body physically and mentally.”

From a bodybuilding perspective, he's back in the gym and remembers the first real pump he's felt in a long time.

“It was mid-January 2022 and we were training legs. I had seen my legs explode in a way I hadn't seen in years," he recalled. “This feeling of relief made me so euphoric. That made me think of Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous quote about the pump. It was the most euphoric feeling I've had in a long time."

While Dominick Cardone has been reflecting on his journey and wants to use it to help others, he is a forward thinker and is now focused on getting back to his sport in a competitive way.

"I'll be back. It's definitely. My goal is to win the Mr. Olympia. w that I'm healthy, my fire is back. I let Flex help me choose a show. Again, he's leading me the way. Right now I'm having so much fun growing. People can definitely expect to see me on stage either late this year or early next year."

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