No matter that I base my therapeutic interventions on natural treatments (without rejecting allopathic medicines that I reserve for acute problems), I am nevertheless constantly harassed by patients who are worried about their effects!
“They have read” or “they were told” that: vitamin A is very toxic, selenium is a heavy metal, iodine must not be taken with thyroid problems, salt is very dangerous to good health, there is nothing worse than eating cholesterol, that supplementing with vitamin E and with antioxidants increases mortality, and that menopausal women must all take 1.2g of calcium carbonate daily. Actually the list could go on and on!
There is nothing that can upset me more than listening to all these mistaken beliefs! Of course there is some element of truth in these statements, but it is a pity to worry people about these nutrients when they are encouraged to swallow their daily aspirin to prevent thrombosis and heart attacks. In reality, aspirin (salicylic acid) kills up to 12,000 people a year in the United States alone, due to gastrointestinal bleeding.
One must of course be careful in prescribing nutrients: all the ones listed above can lead to toxicity in excess, apart from magnesium and coenzyme Q10. This is why one must avoid taking everything they read or hear for granted. Ideally any significant supplementation (either dosage and/or length) should be based upon an initial biological evaluation of the patient. However, sometimes dietary analysis can demonstrate the lack of a nutrient in the diet.
Consequently, I consistently refuse to recommend supplements based on such generalisations. I abhor the word “protocol” because it systematically implies a generalization while I am utterly convinced of the necessity to personalise treatments to each individual’s needs, according to their complaints and dietary analysis, but tailored to personal records via blood and urine tests. We must always personalise treatment to get the optimum results.
Therefore I do not recommend any supplement without first verifying its necessity. With this in mind, Vitamin A is not toxic but beneficial to the immune system (and for conceiving a baby!) if the patient is in need of it. Of course you should always use a strictly natural form (fish liver oil) and remain within a reasonable dose (e.g. 4,000 IU).
Selenium plays an important role in metabolism because it is part of an amino acid called selenocysteine. This is part of the chain of amino acids which is an essential component of many proteins, especially in the thyroid gland and for the conversion of thyroid pro-hormone T4 into the active hormone T3. Without selenium there cannot be any selenocysteine. We need selenocysteine as it plays a critical role in the structure of the active site of the enzyme, which means that portion of the protein involved in the biochemical reaction that the enzyme requires to be effective. Selenium is absolutely essential to human health.
Deficits of selenium are common in Western Europe, especially since the elimination of US grown grains, which are naturally much more abundant in this trace element. It is even more abundant in Brazil, hence the huge selenium concentration found in Brazil nuts. One can see that supplementing with selenium is frequently necessary but that doesn’t mean everyone needs it - and certainly not in the typical 200mcg dosage for a long period of time. Here too, there is a U-shaped curve where risk of disease increases both in cases of deficiency as well as in cases of excess…