A thought about toxins

Paracelsus had it; “All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dosage makes a thing not poison.” Or the more widely quoted abbreviated version; “The poison is in the dose”, which as translations go is fairly loose. But yes, all substances, even water and oxygen are toxic over a certain point.

Now Mrs S works with Autistic children, and I have been trained (although I think my training is by now well out of date) to work with Autistic spectrum children, amongst a range of other mental and physical disabilities. One of the things the mainstream press do not generally tell you of course is that Autism is a description of a broad range of symptoms from mild cognitive disassociation, in the case of ‘high functioning’, where someone is a bit anti-social and nerdy to full ‘rain man’ savant and everywhere else along the IQ range. Like most things in nature, all the data points on the autism spectrum are more scatter graph than bell curve or straight line. Like with other forms of mental disorder, there is no ‘perfect’ Autistic sufferer. Including all the shades of Asperger’s.

Now two items of news are pointing to possible causes of Autism, and not the spurious study that implicated the MMR vaccine and may end up dooming children to giving birth to poor souls with ‘Rubella syndrome‘. Rubella syndrome, as the linked article explains, is caused by the mother catching measles in the first trimester (First 3 months) of pregnancy and is much, much worse than Autism. Blindness, deafness and severe behavioural disorders result, and I have personally worked with two such children in my dim and distant past. Having seen the results of such an infection, I’d say that skipping the MMR or any vaccination for that matter, is possibly the worst decision any concerned parent to be could ever make.

There are two studies which may have found a possibly credible causative factor in Autism. The first is high doses of Folic acid (Vitamin B9) during pregnancy and the second factor Vitamin D deficiency in those vital first three months when the baby’s nervous system is first developing. Anaemia during early pregnancy has also been cited as a possible causative factor, but more recent thinking is that iron deficiency sometimes found in Autistic children is a symptom rather than the cause.

Right, Folic acid is an easy one to monitor, and vitamin supplements if the pregnant mother to be is already eating lots of food rich in Folic Acid may be unnecessary or even harmful to her unborn. Current thinking favours an absolute maximum dose of 1000 micrograms (1 milligram) with 4-600 micrograms of Folic acid as ideal. Now the vitamin D deficiency issue could be linked to low fat diets immediately before and during pregnancy, because, guess what? Vitamin D (Along with A, E and K) is’Fat Soluble‘ found in ‘Fatty’ fish, like Tuna, Mackerel, and Salmon, Beef liver, Dairy produce (Including cheese) and eggs. So if a pregnant woman’s diet includes reasonable amounts of these foods, then unless she has a gastric disorder she won’t need Vitamin D supplements. Because, and here’s the kicker, tablet based supplements alone aren’t as effective as a healthy mixed diet. A broad spread of proteins, fats, minerals are good. Low fat not so much because most low fat foods are loaded with starch or gel to replace the fats. The trick is to consume the right amount. Normal metabolisms can cope with periodic small excesses during pregnancy, but not megadoses.

By the same token, the Low-fat, Vegetarian and Vegan diets we’re all continually being hectored into aren’t really ‘healthy’ in the long term because they require supplements to fill the nutrition gap. A pregnant woman needs to have been on a reasonable mixed diet prior to and during pregnancy, allowing for the strange cravings and other anomalies that occasionally come with the package. I do not apologise for the sexism in that last sentence because nature and biology are inherently ‘sexist’. It is a biological fact that only fertile females can become pregnant without some freakish work in proverbial test tubes (or more likely a Petri dish or a microscope slide). Men do not have the necessary organs to conceive and bring a fully grown foetus to term. No Ovaries, Fallopian tubes or Uterus. So there. Unless some half wit wants the risks of an Ectopic pregnancy, the insane idea of a biological male getting pregnant must remain within the annals of science fiction.

Then there are the recent revelations about vegetarian diets and too much copper. Copper, which has in the past been implicated as a prime suspect for causing Histaphenia, a form of schizophrenia. Don’t understand the finer points of the biochemistry, but the science, at least to my reading, seems sound enough, even though there are dissenting voices. So a predominantly vegetable based diet of copper rich foods can certainly play les bougres risibles with brain function development and neurotransmitters. Especially if there’s a zinc malabsorption issue. Which could partly explain the sometimes bizarre antics of those who take their diets to extreme.

Well, that’s a steak for me, and only a very small Caesar side salad thanks. I’m eating healthily.

Advertisements