Everything You Need to Know About Selenium
Although people need only a small amount of selenium, it plays a key role in metabolism. It naturally appears in some foods and water. The antioxidant properties of selenium are the cause of the attention it attracts.
What is Selenium?
Selenium is an element whose chemistry resembles that of sulfur. It is an essential element for life, but in large quantities selenium is poisonous. The element is used in electronic devices such as photoconductors. Selenium is also found in dandruff shampoo. It utilizes solar energy and generates electricity.
Selenium is a constant teeth and bones constituent. It is essential to the thyroid gland and immune system. Selenium is a nutrient that is part of antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from the effects of free radicals produced during oxygen metabolism. It is rarely present in nature in its elemental state.
Most selenium comes from diet. How food is raised or grown has an effect on the amount of selenium in contains.
Sources that are generally high in selenium include:
Selenium is used for blood vessel and heart diseases.
Cancers it prevents include:
It is used for:
- Preventing miscarriages
- Arsenic poisoning
- Mood disorders
- Abnormal pap smears
- Gray hair
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hay fever
- Under-active thyroid
- Reducing side effects of chemotherapy
Many body processes work correctly due to selenium. It seems to increase antioxidant action. Selenium content in the soil varies around the world. There are differences in the U. S. The Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Coastal Plain have the lowest selenium levels.
What is the Recommended Daily Intake for Selenium?
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics developed the Dietary Reference Intakes. Recommended amounts of selenium are expressed in mcg. The recommended amounts vary by age and gender.
Both male and female require the same amount of selenium unless a woman is pregnant or lactating. Slightly higher amounts are suggested for such individuals. The recommended amounts are:
- Birth to six months: 15 mcg daily
- Seven months to three years: 20 mcg daily
- Four to eight years: 30 mcg daily
- Nine to 13 years: 40 mcg daily
- 19 years and beyond: 55 mcg daily
- Pregnant females: 60 mcg daily
- Lactating females: 70 mcg daily
Adequate amounts of selenium are consumed by most Americans. Because of poison intoxication, if too much selenium is consumed, people should know the tolerable upper levels for selenium. They are:
- Birth to six months: 45 mcg daily
- Seven to 12 months: 60 mcg daily
- One to three years: 90 mcg daily
- Four to eight years: 150 mcg daily
- Nine to 13 years: 280 mcg daily
- 14 years and up: 400 mcg daily
The recommended amount should come primarily from food. A healthy eating pattern is the best means of attaining the recommended amounts.
Causes of Selenium Deficiency
The availability of selenium depends on the soil. Plants and animals fulfill their requirements from the soil. Plants take up selenium from the soil. Animals feed on the plants. Certain regions of the world have very low selenium availability in the soil.
Animals and plants in these regions get an inadequate amount of selenium. People who get their food source from local produce tend to develop a selenium deficiency and related health complications.
Food absorption capacity diminishes as people grow old. They may require a diet balanced with special requirements. Older people tend not to eat timely meals. Those situations cause individuals to develop inadequate nutritional selenium.
Intestinal absorption is highly compromised in severe diseases of the intestines such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Intestinal TB
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
Impaired selenium absorption leads to undernourishment. In that situation, people are put on total parenteral nutrition, which means the intravenous infusion of a specialized form of food through the veins. If the parenteral fluids are not supplemented properly, selenium insufficiency develops, causing further health problems.
Patients who have had gastrointestinal bypass surgery have a reduction in the intestinal canal’s absorption area. Proper and sufficient selenium supplementation with essential minerals and vitamins are necessary to avoid the development of health problems.
Symptoms of selenium deficiency are:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Cataract formation
- Enlargement of the heart
- Growth retardation
- Hair and skin discoloration
- Joint pain
- Kaskin-Beck’s disease
- Keshan disease
- Macular degeneration
- Mental retardation
- Muscular inflammation
- Muscular pain
- Pancreas degeneration
- Red blood cell fragility
- Symptoms of muscular weakness
- Symptoms of reproductive disorders
- Symptoms of swollen joints
The effects of selenium deficiency are:
- Breakdown of antioxidant activities
- Body’s increased susceptibility to viral diseases
- Higher incidents of cancer
- Hypothyroidism related diseases
- Increase in affliction by herpes, flu, and coxsackievirus
- Increase in HIV/AIDS progression
- Increased risk of birth defects
- Lowered immunity
- Onset of dementia and mental retardation
- Onset of arthritis and rheumatism
Slow wound healing may indicate a selenium deficiency. It is worth having selenium status examined if wounds do not heal, or heal slowly.
How Selenium Benefits Your Body
Selenium is important in the production of selenoprotein. Some of the enzymes are antioxidants. Antioxidant properties can help against damaging effects of free radicals that damage DNA and cells.
The proper function of the immune system and thyroid require selenium. It is used by the body to turn harmful chemicals to water in the body. Selenium works with other nutrients like beta-carotene and Vitamin E to promote normal cholesterol levels.
Selenium is beneficial to the heart by the reduction of inflammation and prevention of platelets grouping together. That reduction and prevention lower heart attack risk. Selenium may also stop old age mental decline. Selenium plays a role in producing the thyroid hormone
This element may:
- Reduce cardiovascular disease risk
- Help thyroid problems
- Prevent memory loss
- LiveScience reports some studies support selenium reducing cancer risk, especially prostate and bladder cancer.
- Some studies link selenium deficiency and thyroid damage and goiters.
- A study of more than 9000 participants showed an association with low selenium levels and increased lung cancer risk, especially in people who smoke.
- Healthline claims one study found selenium supplements to decrease progression of HIV and drastically lower hospitalization rates.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Selenium
Selenium fights inflammation
It inhibits a protein complex that can read and copy DNA. The protein complex is the most important inflammation cause in the body.
Selenium aids in regulating the Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm is key to weight loss and health. The circadian rhythm influences metabolism and energy balance.
Selenium has anti-aging properties
It works with fatty acids to support cognition. Selenium prevents the formation of undesirable products caused by polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Selenium is important for the function of the thyroid
The highest selenium content in the body is found in the thyroid. An inadequate supply of selenium causes the thyroid to operate in a state of stress. The stress opens the door for metabolic problems.
Selenium prevents cancer
Increased selenium, which falls below the tolerable upper level, has shown to lessen lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer risk.
Selenium helps immune defense
Safe increased selenium intake aids the body in antibody production and tumor cell destruction.
Selenium benefits people with asthma and allergies
Supplementation of selenium helps divert immune responses associated with asthma and allergies. It promotes protection against cancer and viral infections.
Selenium aids in reproductive health and fertility
The deficiency of selenium is correlated to an increased probability of miscarriage. In males, selenium is necessary for sperm formation and development.
Selenium improves mood
It affects nerve cells that in turn affect mood. The neurotransmitters in selenium-deficient individuals do not turnover as quickly as those individuals with an adequate selenium supply.
Selenium increases IGF- 1
- Helps in age-related cognitive decline
- Increases antioxidants
- Decreases inflammation and autoimmunity
- Is good for the brain
- Creates bigger muscles and reduces muscle wasting
- Protects against heart disease
- Improves blood sugar balance
- Promotes growth and height
- Helps bone density
- Helps the gut
- Might clear bacterial infections
- Boosts the immune system
- Helps electrolyte balance
- Is good for the skin
10 Foods That Are Rich in Selenium
They contain more selenium than any food. The high selenium content makes Brazil nuts food not to be eaten too frequently because of the risk of selenium toxicity.
It protects against mercury toxicity rather than cause it.
It is almost pure protein. Forty-two of 50 grams of halibut are protein. Halibut is high in selenium and also mercury. It should not be eaten too often. Fresh halibut from a local fish market is best.
These little fish are full of selenium and Omega-3 which protect against mercury toxicity.
Beef is an excellent source of selenium. Grass feeding improves beef quality and makes it rich in beneficial fatty acid, beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fats.
Selenium and the other nutrients in beef liver support every physiological system. They may help decrease the risk of several serious medical conditions.
Selenium is the richest mineral in chicken. A single four-ounce serving provides 57 percent of the required daily intake of selenium.
A single hard-boiled egg contains about 15.4 mcg of selenium. That is 28 percent of the amount recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board
Selenium Interactions and Side Effects
Talk to your healthcare provider before using selenium supplements if you are using the following medications to treat a medical condition.
Drugs that affect levels of selenium in the body – These drugs affect levels of selenium in the body. These may lower selenium levels.
- Valproic acid
Antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants – These may increase bleeding risk when combined with selenium.
Barbituates – Animal testing seems to indicate the sedative effect lasts longer with the following.
Chemotherapy – Talk to the oncologist before taking any supplement including selenium. It may aid in the reduction of side effects from drugs like bleomycin, doxorubicin, and cisplatin, but interfere with the cancer-fighting ability.
Cholesterol-lowering medications – Taking antioxidants such as selenium along with simvastatin and niacin may reduce the effectiveness of lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol in people with heart disease. Selenium may reduce the effectiveness of other statins.
Long-term use of high doses of selenium may lead to dangerous side effects. They include:
- Easy bleeding and bruising
- Hair loss
- Mild rash
- Painful or brittle fingernails or white streaks
- Lack of energy
- Metallic taste, strong body odor, bad breath
- Muscle tenderness
- Tremors and light-headedness
The information in this article is for general purposes only and not intended to replace any specific medical advice. Healthcare providers can address interest sparked by this article and answer questions that arise.