SELENIUM

THE CONTRARIAN
WILLY BRANTS DIARY

I was brushing my teeth this morning, thinking about the notice I just got saying it’s time to see my dentist again. I still have all my teeth, well, except those couple I lost on one of those weekends I would like to forget, during my navy days. Probably still got teeth because of the fluoride drops my wife made me take all those years. I was thinking about how water is different around the world, like prairie water is usually so alkaline you are in danger of slipping and falling every time you go near your bathtub, and some places have a lack of fluorine, when I hear Joe bang on the door and demand to know if the coffee is on.

So I reported all this thinking, for lack of any other subject to discuss, we pretty well covered the whole world political thing yesterday while we were planting his potatoes. Not unexpectedly, this brought a lecture.

Joe said that “If you believe the evolutionists, all the cells of our body are little sacks of sea water; after all we started out as little one-cell critters in the ocean. Sea water has pretty well every element that God invented in it, so it stands to reason we need some of every element to be healthy. I figure anything that spends its life in the ocean ought to have it all, that’s why I order sea food every time I go to a restaurant. Which isn’t often, I think I am allergic to MSG, and for sure I am allergic to crowds”.

The percolator stopped snorting, so I poured some coffee. I still use a perk, I figure that boiling the heck out of the coffee puts all that coffee flavour and aroma in the air, makes it a more satisfying experience, besides I am sure I get my money’s worth that way. These modern coffeemakers just kind of tickle the coffee, leaves most of the good stuff still in the grounds.

Joe takes a swig, and gives me an approving glance, and goes on “That’s one reason different parts of the world have different strengths and weaknesses, diseases and so on.” I couldn’t get that one, so I asked “What is one reason?” “Micronutrients”, he roars, then seeing my puzzlement goes on “OK, soil and fresh water is different in different parts of the world, and usually short of one or another of those elements that are in sea water. Depends on how the soil was formed, what kind of rock it was ground up out of, how much was washed out when the glacier put it down, and so on. Nowadays we give our animals mineral supplements, and eat one-a-day vitamin and mineral pills, and eat food from all over the world, but in olden days you ate and drank what was on your farm. So people were different from place to place, and had different diseases, because their local soil was different.”

I thought about that, and my navy days, and replied “That’s so interesting, I can relate to that, for instance I remember noticing the local people in one south American country were all very good-looking, and in the next one over, well, not so much. Sort of a swan and duck situation. Maybe has to do with a micronutrient”

Joe responded “Maybe. I remember my dad talking about spending time in England during ww2, and he noticed some villages had a lot of people with Downs Syndrome, while other villages had none. He thought it was genetic, but it is not. Perhaps it comes from a mineral deficiency, or a toxin, like foetal alcohol”.

Silence for a minute, then Joe said “You mentioned fluoride. Lack of fluoride affecting teeth is so well known that the dentists and the toothpaste makers pretty much look after that” — I interrupted “except for poor people who do not go to the dentist!” Joe stopped for a minute, then went on “Iodine and chlorine are a lot like fluorine, same chemical family. We get lots of chlorine in ordinary salt, but shortage of iodine happens lots of places. So they put it in table salt, so everybody gets enough iodine. Most places put fluoride in the water. But those are shortages we know about. Who knows what we will discover in future”.

I got up and poured some more coffee, and threw some eggs in a pan; Joe is pretty sloppy about when he eats, so I am pretty sure he hasn’t had any breakfast. Me, I have to eat regularly or I get real grouchy. While I am cooking, I think out loud “You know, I remember back in the 60’s somebody had an analysis done on local feed, maybe a sheep or cow was sick or something, anyway it came back that our soil lacks selenium, causes a disease in sheep and maybe cows too, so the larger farmers used to give their cattle an injection of selenium and some other stuff every fall. Don’t know if they still do. I make sure there is some selenium in the mineral supplement I give my goats, just in case.”

Joe looked thoughtful. “I didn’t know that, are you sure?”

Chalk one up for me; I am ahead of him for a change.

“Pretty sure”, I said, “It’s more than just those old soil and feed tests. Dryden gets Wabigoon Lake water tested for everything that God invented, and a lot that man invented, and I had a chance to look at one of those reports. Sure enough, zero selenium in the lake water. Wabigoon Lake has a lot of our clay in it, so I figure our soil must be zero too. Guess I should have told you about that, it might be good for your cows too”.

Joe thought some more. “I read a paper a few years ago, talking about statistical connections between disease and minerals, one mineral was linked to colon, lung and breast cancers; I remember it because that is the kind of cancers we have here. Come to think of it, maybe it was selenium.”

“If that’s so, wouldn’t the Board of Health be all over it?” from me. Joe says, “Well, probably the science isn’t all that firm yet, but it sure is interesting.”

“Yep”, says I, “Sure is”

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