Polly: Since there is always a situation where a vitamin or mineral supplement can become harmful, please employ some common sense rules to protect yourself.
1) Find out as much as you can about a supplement before taking it, both good and bad. Never treat any information as the whole truth. We are always learning more.
2) Learn about the correct dose for effectiveness.
3) Start very slowly with low doses.
4) Add one new supplement at a time.
5) Observe how you react.
6) Don’t overdo anything, yet don’t be afraid to try things. Even though something may start out as very helpful, eventually you may not need it, or continuing to take it may even become harmful.
7) If your health is hanging by a thread, then consult a professional and have him test everything reasonable before starting on any vitamin or mineral supplement. Usually, but not always, a naturopathic doctor or an alternative doctor will know more about vitamins and minerals than a conventional doctor.
8) Trust your body’s reaction. If a supplement was great for someone else with the same condition, but it makes you sicker, then stop taking the supplement. Find out more. Perhaps you are starting with too high a dose. Maybe the supplement has to be taken with food or another supplement. Perhaps something else in your body must be corrected before you can tolerate this supplement. Sometimes the brand is no good. Many bargain brands have impurities that make people sick. Sometimes a supplement doesn’t contain the amount or even the substance as shown on the label, even in a supposedly good brand. If the herb isn’t wild-crafted (no commercial fertilizers and pesticides), then sometimes the herb isn’t very active, like in the case of echinacea. Usually a powder or capsule is going to be absorbed better than a hard tablet.
9) If you can’t tolerate even the most pure supplements, then look to food. You are more likely to tolerate food than any supplement. For instance, lightly cooked liver is a good way to get some vitamin A, coenzyme Q10, and the B vitamins.
10) Try not to be disappointed. I’ve tried many different supplements. Each seems to have some value. However, perhaps only one in ten has given me a very noticeable benefit.
Government Restrictions On Vitamins And Minerals
Jon: Just a little note to folks about something that happened this morning here in the United Kingdom. I ran out of B12 and B6. So I went to the local chemist and all they had was a B complex. I asked if they had any B12 or B6, and the head pharmacist there said they had withdrawn it under orders as it has been proven now that it causes nerve damage. I had heard a few rumours but the main health food stores still stock it !!! It shows the strange world we live in as they refused to give me vitamins and yet a 19-year-old in front of me was happily given his daily dose of methadone ……warped world!
Polly: Usually B12 and B6 are used to improve nerve functioning. I’ve never heard of B12 causing nerve damage, however, the possibility of nerve damage from high-dose B6 has been known for a long time. An abstract in medline says that doses of 200 mg to 500 mg per day of B6 for extended periods has produced nerve damage.  (The purity of the B6 may account for some variation in the amount tolerated. Also, B6 is known to be better tolerated if B2 and magnesium are given with it.) Yet some autistics have taken 1000 mg or more of B6 per day on a long-term basis with no problem. 
The possibility of nerve damage is a problem that everyone on high dose B6 should be aware of. However, if high dose B6 could only be given by prescription, people wouldn’t be able to get the prescription. A doctor would be labeled a quack and have his license taken away if he prescribed it. If the government limits our access to no more than a couple of milligrams of B6, B12, or other vitamins, they would protect a few but hurt many others. Ideally, access should be allowed, warnings should be put on labels, and people should read those labels. Labels should have the well-known risk situations clearly defined, but not exaggerated. We do this for prescriptions, why not for vitamins? Then you would have the best of both worlds — protection and freedom.
The Internet is full of opinions and articles about the new CODEX guidelines. The CODEX guidelines restrict vitamin and mineral supplements to low potencies that are multiples of the RDA. (Restrictions on herbs are not part of the CODEX guidelines.) If the United Nations adopts the CODEX guidelines, many people fear that all is lost — that the citizens of the world will not have access to vitamins and minerals in potencies that can help them. However, all is not lost if the UN adopts CODEX. UN member nations that ratify GATT will only have to consider the CODEX guidelines when creating laws on health supplements. Notice that this does not mean that each nation must implement these guidelines, but just that they must consider the CODEX guidelines. However, there is the very real concern that many nations will implement the CODEX guidelines and the citizens of the world will not have access to the potencies needed. Emotions run very high on this issue. For more detailed information, see http://www.vitamins-for-all.org and http://www.health4us.org/codex.html
Polly: Acetylaldehyde is the first break down product of alcohol. It is a toxin that is believed to cause most of the damage from alcoholism. Unfortunately, yeast make this toxin. Those with long-term yeast overgrowth may be suffering from the effects of this toxin (and other yeast toxins). Therefore they may want to pay particular attention to certain nutrients that remove or protect a person from the yeast toxin acetylaldehyde. I’ve heard of these: vitamin C, B1, coenzyme B6, B12, folic acid, pantethine, NADH (coenzyme form of niacin), selenium, molybdenum, iron, zinc, lipoic acid, glutamine, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, taurine, and N-Acetyl-Cysteine. What follows is some information on why these supplements are important.
Dr. Stephan Cooter states that you need glutamine, selenium, niacin, folic acid, B6, B12, and iron to metabolize the aldehydes into acetic acid, which can then be excreted or converted further into acetyl coenzyme A (this is not vitamin A). (See his article at http://www.mall-net.com/cooter/moly.html ) Zinc is also required for the detoxification of acetylaldehyde, as mentioned in many papers of John Cleary, MD. Pantethine is another important nutrient. (Pantethine is the coenzyme form of the B vitamin pantethenic acid, available from Ecological Formulas, phone (800) 351-9429.) Pantethine is necessary for the conversion of acetylaldehyde into CoA. (See this article “The Candida/Aldehyde detox pathway and the Molybdenum Connection” by Jann Weiss, at
Pantethine also supports the growth of friendly bacteria in our intestines and is excellent support for the adrenals. It is also important for the proper use of biotin.
Vitamin C, B1, lipoic acid, and N-acetyl cysteine are not necessarily what is needed to convert acetylaldehyde into CoA, but they should help protect you from being poisoned by the acetylaldehyde. Herbert Sprince, MD and colleagues showed this in rat experiments in the 1970’s.
NAD is converted to NADH (coenzyme niacin) when acetylaldehyde is oxidized. In Truss’s classic paper on acetylaldehyde poisoning by candidiasis, he hypothesizes that the acetylaldehyde causes a shift from NAD to NADH concentration in the body, and this is responsible for many of the problems we experience. Not fully understanding the implications, I was hesitant to try a NADH supplement for this reason. However, when I did finally try NADH, I experienced a very noticeable increase in energy. I’d tried plain niacin before, and had not experienced this improvement. Perhaps it had to do with my lack of coenzyme B6 at the time, which is needed to convert niacin into NAD? According to Dr. Truss, acetylaldehyde depletes the body of coenzyme B6 (also known as P5P). In his paper on the yeast syndrome and acetylaldehyde poisoning, he found that his patients were also depleted of certain amino acids: glutamine, glutamate, glutaric acid, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, and asparagine. Another amino acid might also be low in those with yeast overgrowth. In Phyllis Balch’s Prescription for Nutritional Healing, she mentions that taurine is spilled in the urine of those with yeast overgrowth. The same spilling of taurine is found when one drinks alcohol.
1. Parry GJ, Bredesen DE, “Sensory neuropathy with low-dose pyridoxine” Neurology 1985 Oct;35(10):1466-8
2. Rimland B, PhD, “What is the right ‘dosage’ for Vitamin B6, DMG, and other nutrients useful in autism?” Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116 The article is at http://www.autism.com/ari/editorials/dosage.html
3. Hanson, Lars a., and Yolken, Robert H., Probiotics, Other Nutritional Factors, and Intestinal Microflora, Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series, Vol. 42, Lippincott-Raven Publishers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1999, Phone (800) 638 – 3030Lars Hanson book
4. Owens, Susan Costen, “Explorations of the New Frontier between Gut and Brain: A look at GAGs, CCK and Motilin,” 1998 Durham Conference on Autism http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/autism/owens.htm The printed version of this paper is for sale at http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/autism/. Owens, SC. Explorations of the new frontier between gut and brain: A look at GAGs, CCK and motilin. From Psychobiology of Autism: Current Research and Practice. Van Mildert College, University of Durham, April 15-17th, 1998, pp. 45-70.
5. Roche pharmaceutical site provides information on accutane at http://www.rocheusa.com/products/accutane/pi.html
6. Koo, S.I. and Ahn, J. Lymphatic absorption of vitamin A and fatty acid is restored to normal in zinc deficient rats by intraduodenal infusion of phosphatidylcholine. FASEB J. 9:A166, 1995.
7. Interveiw with Mary Megson, MD, “Clinition of the Month,” Functional Medicine Update&trade http://home.att.net/~pediatricaac/jan10/jan10.html Mary Megson can be reached at Pediatric and Adolescent Ability Center, 7229 Forest Avenue, Suite 211 in Richmond, Va. 23226
8. Fallon, Sally, Sally Fallon’s 1996 Lecture on Nourishing Traditions, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, a Peli-Graphic Production (video tape) to order phone PPNF at (800) 366-3748
9. Rogers, Sherry, Wellness Against All Odds, Prestige Publishing, 1994, page 135 and page
10. Teitelbaum, Jacob, MD, “Mitochondrial Dysfunction”, Fatigued to Fantastic Newsletter, Volume 1, issue 2, July 1997 phone (800) 333-5287
11. Truss O. “Metabolic abnormalities in patients with chronic candidiasis: the acetaldehyde hypothesis.” J Orthomolecular Psychiatry 13:66-93, vol. 13, no. 2, 1984
12. Long KZ, Santos JI., “Vitamins and the regulation of the immune response.” Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 Mar;18(3):283-90.
13. Lotfy OA, Saleh WA, el-Barbari M. “A study of some changes of cell-mediated immunity in protein energy malnutrition.” J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 1998 Aug;28(2):413-28.
14. Ganrot, P.O., “Metabolism and Possible Health Effects of Aluminum”, Environmental Health Perspectives, 1986; 65: pp.363-441 and Elemental Analysis Hair lab report notes from Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory, August 2001
15. Werbach, Melvyn, R. MD, “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, July 1997
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18. Gregory Kelly, ND, “The Coenzyme Forms of Vitamin B12: Toward an Understanding of their Therapeutic Potential,” Alt Med Rev 1997;2(5):459-471 http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/fulltext/b122-6.html
19. Ward, Dean, MD, VRP newsletter, August 2002, http://www.vrp.com
20. Shaw, William, PhD, Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, 1998
21. Yamaguchi, H,”Mycelial development and chemical alteration of Candida albicans from biotin insufficiency” Sabouraudia 1974 Nov;12(3):320-8 and Vidotto V; Picerno G; Caramello S; Paniate G, “Importance of some factors on the dimorphism of Candida albicans” Mycopathologia, 1988 Dec, 104:3, 129-35
22. Manning M, Mitchell TG, “Strain variation and morphogenesis of yeast- and mycelial-phase Candida albicans in low-sulfate, synthetic medium,” J Bacteriol 1980 May;142(2):714-9
23. McGinnis M, Tyring S, “Introduction to Mycology” University of Texas Medical Branch Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. As displayed at http://gsbs.utmb.edu/microbook/intomyco.htm
24. Osono Y, Hirose N, Nakajima K, Hata Y, “The effects of pantethine on fatty liver and fat distribution” Atheroscler Thromb 2000;7:55-58
25. Sloan H, MD, PhD “Biotin Deficiency” eMedicineJournal, http://author.emedicine.com/PED/topic238.htm
26. Dr. John Ely has an article on coenzyme Q10, at http://faculty.washington.edu/~ely/turnover.html in which he gives these references: Bliznakov EG, Wilkins DJ: Biochemical and clinical consequences of inhibiting Coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis by lipid-lowering HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins): A critical overview. Advances in Therapy, 1998; 15(4), 218-28; Kalen A, Appelkvist E-L, Dallner G: Age related changes in the lipid composition of rat and human tissue. Lipids, 1989; 24: 579-584; Ernster L, Dallner G: Biochemical, physiological and medical aspects of ubiquinone function. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1995; 1271:195-204.
27. Peat, Raymond, PhD, “Endocrine System and the Candida Patient”, 1985 lecture tape given to the Candida and Dysbiosis Information Foundation
28. Schlesinger L, Arevalo M, Arredondo S, Lonnerdal B, Stekel A, “Zinc supplementation impairs monocyte function.” Acta Paediatr. 1993 Sep;82(9):734-8. PMID: 8241668; UI: 94060572
29. Science News, “A Greek God Explains Anemic Mice”, April 10, 1999.
30. Peat, Raymond, PhD, Nutrition for Women, 1993, page 67
©2002 by Polly Hattemer, also known as Pauline Hattemer