In one of my recent Health Alerts I discussed the perplexities of Natural Medicine and how some vitamins are scrutinized more than others.
In particular, last time Vitamin E was discussed. If you missed it here’s the article for your immediate attention – CLICK HERE.
Today I would like to write about Selenium. It is often misunderstood, especially about its toxicity levels.
By looking up the Recommended Daily Allowance for Selenium at http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/selenium.asp you’ll find for adults it is 55 mcg.
At this dose science has also suggested it doesn’t do much. Science then proposes for Selenium to prevent serious disease, including cancer, it needs to be at higher dosages.
I’ll go through dosages shortly, but first . . .
Science suggests that selenium deficiency may contribute to
- rheumatoid arthritis
- AIDS HIV and Asthma development of a form of heart disease hypothyroidism, a weakened immune system
- Keshan Disease, which results in an enlarged heart and poor heart function, occurs in selenium deficient children.
- Kashin-Beck Disease, which results in osteoarthropathy
- Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism, which results in mental retardation
- Severe gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohn’s disease
- Worsening of the effects of iodine deficiency on thyroid function, and that adequate selenium nutritional status may help protect against some of the neurological effects of iodine deficiency
- Increased risk of developing prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer
- Increased damaging effects done by free radicals
- Increase tumour growth
And the list continues.
However, by going to other web sites including the one mentioned above you’ll get the total opposite – Science suggesting it doesn’t work! For this to be truly understood the next part of the equation is the most important when reviewing scientific studies.
With any type of scientific study you have to know how the study was conducted and by whom, because unfortunately there are vested interests that can sway scientific findings either way. You also have to work out how was the study completed, with whom, what type of selenium was used and where were the trials conducted.
Where the trials are conducted or where you live is important for Australians, because we have some of the lowest Selenium levels in the world.
And by the way there is only one form of selenium that should be used and if you get Selenium from us, you can be assured it’s the correct one.
So where’s the truth?
Here’s the latest from America’s governing body . . . The FDA.
I nearly fell over backwards when I read the following because the U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) is known for being sceptical of any form of natural medicines.
“Some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of Selenium may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer.”
For a natural substance to get this kind of statement from the FDA it would have to have dozens of studies on thousands of patients and show a significant benefit.
So why isn’t every one using it. One reason I believe is because it hasn’t caught the media’s eye as yet and secondly, the debate is still out about its toxicity.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has set a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for selenium at 400 micrograms per day for adults to prevent the risk of developing Selenosis or Selenium toxicity.
Those doctors and scientists who use and/or suggest this dose say, “Between 200 and 400 mcg is at levels that can be beneficial to the human body.”
Now you go to the TGA, which is Australia’s governing body, and you’ll read this, “Selenium is toxic in high doses. A daily dose of 150 micrograms, for adults, of selenium from dietary supplements should not be exceeded.”
Even the governments disagree with each other. Oh but . . . that’s normal though . . . isn’t it? Governments around the world seem to disagree about many things. Most of the time they can’t even agree within their own political parties!
And I know you are totally aware of this . . . Governments around the world have different opinions about all nutrients and their safety.
In America you can buy over the counter, in any health food store the following supplements . . . this is only a very short list . . .
- Ma Huang
- High dose Melatonin
- And the list goes on and on
But you can’t buy them over the counter in Australia.
But some countries are really . . really in the dark ages when it comes to natural health.
Vitamin C is imperative for our bodies and because most people are so depleted in this life saving, miracle nutrient our bodies need Vitamin C in large doses.
I personally take up to 6,000 mg per day and sometimes more.
To find out more information on Vitamin C please go to http://www.vitamincfoundation.org as I haven’t the space here to discuss its importance.
But some countries are saying that 50mg will be the limit . . .
Here’s a short piece form www.holistichealthtopics.com/HMG/codex2.html
(Please go to this site to find out what the Australian Government and other Governments are up to . . . you’ll be horrified, appalled and disgusted.)
Here’s a short piece from the article . . .
“Easily obtaining your large dose of vitamin C, which you take when you get a common cold, could become an impossibility in the future.
To the consumer, who knows through personal experience the value of natural health products, this appears ridiculous. However, it is happening.
The European Union is currently harmonizing its regulations among its member states and transposing them into national law.
Germany has already passed laws to reclassify all supplements and herbs as drugs and, as an example of these restrictions, the current upper limit on vitamin C, available as an over-the-counter product, is 50mg. Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have also implemented similar regulations and the governments will actively pursue suppliers who break the law.”
Absolutely archaic! . . . But, I suppose it’s no different to our Government, when it comes to Selenium.
Europe is considered by most as the leaders when it comes to Natural Health. NOT SO within the above example or this one to follow . . .
How about one Government in Europe that doesn’t recognise Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or ME) as of 2009, and the said Government will throw out any professional who says otherwise.
“The Belgian Government still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or ME) as a physical condition. As a direct result, CFS or ME patients are only treated as psychosomatic patients with CBT and GET (these two therapies look at a physical disorder that is caused by or influenced by emotional factors) despite the fact, that 4,000 (!!!) research papers strongly contradict the benefit of this approach and especially consider GET as HARMFUL.”
Now how’s that, over 4,000 scientific studies proving that something does not work, IS HARMFUL and yet they are still doing it!
Did you know that Australia is considered the most over-regulated country in the WORLD when it comes to Natural Health and Natural Health Products?
It usually suggests the lowest dosages and for some products that are used throughout other parts of the world, those safely used products are actually banned for usage by Natural Health Care Practitioners in Australia.
Australia “The Lucky Country,” sometimes I wonder!
No doubt,it’s so confusing for the average person when using the Internet.
And unfortunately there are thousands more cases like those mentioned, i.e. Selenium, Vitamin C and CFS, but unfortunately I haven’t got the time or space to continue about the others within this article.
Yes selenium is toxic at very high doses. Even oxygen and water are toxic in high dosages!!!
Although selenium is required for health, like other nutrients, high doses of selenium can be toxic. Acute and fatal toxicities have occurred with accidental ingestion of gram quantities of selenium.
Clinically significant selenium toxicity was reported in 13 individuals after taking supplements that contained 27.3 milligrams (27,300 mcg) per tablet due to a manufacturing error.
That’s a huge dose – 27,300 mcg
The most frequently reported symptoms of selenosis or selenium toxicity are hair and nail brittleness and loss. Other symptoms may include gastrointestinal disturbances, skin rashes, a garlic breath odour, fatigue, irritability, and nervous system abnormalities.
Toxic effects occurred with increasing frequency when blood selenium concentrations reached a level corresponding to an intake of 850 mcg/day.
As mentioned above the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine recently set the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for selenium at 400 mcg/day in adults based on the prevention of hair and nail brittleness and loss and early signs of chronic selenium toxicity.
So at what level does toxicity occur? Most leading scientific data suggests above 600 to 900 mcg’s per day. Here is what the prestigious Merck Manual says,
“Toxicity occurs at high doses (higher than 900 μg/day).”
This manual is the very one that nearly all Australian Medical Doctors use every day in their Family Practices. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec01/ch005/ch005i.html
Here’s what a loyal Australian had to say about selenium before he entered our Centre . . .
Here’s what a loyal Australian had to say about selenium before he entered our Centre . . .
“My Selenium Story It cured my Pancreatitis (I hope), and now I never get the flu.
I am no doctor or naturopath or chemist, but my experience with pancreatitis and selenium may be of interest. For me selenium has been a life saver, with unexpected side benefits. Here is my story in layman’s language.
About seven years ago (2002), I began having recurring bouts of illness which were extremely debilitating, immobilising me for three or four days each time. They became more frequent and more severe, months apart at first and later weeks.
They would usually start during the day with a raw, gnawing, burning sort of pain in the lower abdomen, centred just above the belly button. That would get progressively worse over a period of 12 to 24 hours, after which I would break out in a fever with flu-like symptoms, which put me in bed for about 48 hours or more. The pain was constant and very severe, and I became quite disorientated and distressed during the worst two days. Then the symptoms would gradually subside.
My GP diagnosed the problem as diverticulitis, and each time I went down with a bout of these symptoms, he would prescribe Bactrim and Flagyl antibiotics. As I always recovered within a few days, I accepted that it must have been the antibiotics helping me. But the problem would soon return again, so something else had to be done.
At my request he referred me to a gastroenterologist, who ran more tests than all the Ashes series in history. I also had a colonoscopy or three and I can’t recall what else. Something was elevated in my bloodstream, indicating infection of some sort, but he and another specialist physician could not identify what it was.
My last bout was so severe, I was admitted to hospital and put on morphine (oh, the relief!) More blood tests every half hour and who knows what other tests. Finally, the gastro came in and said: “We got lucky. Or unlucky. Depends which way you want to look at it. We found what it is.” And so he told me it was pancreatitis. Apparently there is a 15 minute window in which a certain enzyme is released from the pancreas, and unless a blood test is taken at that time, it can be missed.
After I got out of hospital I went back to the gastro and asked him what I should do the next time I got an attack. He said go straight to hospital. I said: “What are you going to do there?” He replied: “Pain management.” I said “Is that all you can do?” He nodded.
I Googled pancreatitis and realised why the gastroenterologist said I might be unlucky. To my horror, there was quite a chance this could be fatal. To say I was concerned would be an understatement. The pancreas produces all sorts of chemicals and enzymes and hormones (including insulin) that gobble up the sugar and fat and other stuff in our blood and keep everything level. For some reason, in pancreatitis, the pancreas becomes inflamed and the little critters it produces start eating up the pancreas instead of all the bad stuff. If this goes on for long enough, you die.
The two main causes of pancreatitis are said to be gallstones (I was checked, and don’t have them) and alcohol and drug abuse. I have taken my share of analgesics and antibiotics in my life, and have the odd beer on a hot day, but abuse? I hate hangovers too much to abuse grog. I would need to check with Mark Latham, who had the same problem, but I seriously think the belief that either of those is the only cause of pancreatitis is wrong. Not one person I have since heard of with pancreatitis has had gallstones or abuses alcohol or drugs.
My sister is a bit of an alternative medicine freak. Maybe that’s unkind. She has a deeper interest in natural remedies than I do. She pops vitamins, minerals, herbs and whatever all day. I have taken plenty of stuff in my life, but never noticed any real difference in my health. But I am not anti in any way. I have an open mind.
She told me I should be taking selenium, which, I understand, is a heavy metal, dangerous in large quantities. In fact, for many years, it was prohibited in Australia, I am told. I thanked her for her concern and did nothing.
Then another friend recommended the same thing. He printed off a book full of stuff off the internet, which made interesting reading. It did seem as though there may be a connection between lack of selenium in the soil and quite a lot of ailments, including pancreatitis. So I started taking selenium, about 100 micrograms per day.
About three years later, not only had I not had another pancreatitis attack, but I noticed that neither had I had the flu or even a severe cold, which was weird, as I used to catch everything going around, and usually ended up with laryngitis at least once each year.
One night I was surfing the net looking for something completely different, when I noticed a headline in a magazine that suggested selenium prevented AIDS. It was an article written by a Dr. Harold Foster, a Canadian who had a PhD in geography but seemed to specialise in preventing diseases (www.hdfoster.com). Apparently he was researching the sub-Saharan African region, where AIDS is rife, yet in one small country (I think it was Senegal) there was very low incidence of AIDS. He discovered that the soil there was rich in selenium, whereas in neighbouring countries the soil was deficient.
I emailed him and told him my observations about myself. He wrote back and told me he had been taking 200 mcg of selenium a day for 20 years, had never had the flu, and rarely got a cold.
After 7 years of taking selenium (I now take 200 mcg per day) I have never had a recurrence of pancreatitis (touch wood), never had the flu again, and two or three colds that have gone away in a day or two. Apparently selenium builds your immune system, even against cancer.
As for being dangerous in large quantities, I don’t know what large means, but it seems you would probably know if you were taking too much. Your hair falls out, your fingernails break off, and you have bad breath. I keep trying to pull my hair out with my fingernails, but neither will give. None of my friends have complained about the other.
Graham Dyer”I know of others with a weakened immune system that take up to 400 mcg per day for one week to get things started, then down to 300 mcg for 2 weeks and then take 200 mcg thereafter.
Just like Graham . . . they have been doing it for years.
And also just like Graham . . . they report, “My health has never been better.”
Now please I am not suggesting this dose, but just giving you information on what others are doing.
And as Graham said, “As for being dangerous in large quantities, I don’t know what large means, but it seems you would probably know if you were taking too much. Your hair falls out, your fingernails break off, and you have bad breath. I keep trying to pull my hair out with my fingernails, but neither will give. None of my friends have complained about the other.”
For those reading this in Australia, please remember what the Australian TGA says.
I do trust this takes some of the confusion away.
Wishing You Good Health,
Until Next time,
Dedicated to Improving Your Wellbeing and Committed To Helping You Achieve Abundance,
B.T.C.M. N.D. D.M.H. Fellow AACMA. ATMS. ANPA. QAMT.
P.S. As I wrote in one of the P.S.’s on the bottom of the vitamin E article, “There are thousands of just as confusing articles out there. This is fantastic for us, because being a member of our community and with Ancient Medicine by our side truth is always available. It’s there for us, because my team and I have done the work for you or should I say Ancient Medicine has done the work for us . . .”