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August 20, 2019

What is Selenium?

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect your cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Moreover, it can support healthy tissues, organs and body systems. Prevent early symptoms of aging as it maintains the elasticity of your tissues, organs as well as promote your cardiovascular system. 

A lot of studies prove that adding selenium to your diet boost your immune system and stimulates white blood cell development. Moreover, selenium is very crucial in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and stroke attack. 

Discover the health benefits that you can get from selenium which is one of the premium trace minerals. Learn why it is necessary for the proper functions of our bodily systems.    

 

Origin and History

The chemical element Selenium was discovered by Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius in 1817 at Stockholm, Sweden. He analyzed an impurity that contaminated the sulfuric acid produced at a factory in Sweden.

At first, it was thought to be tellurium. But later on, scientists determined that it was an unknown element which was later named selenium. It was named after Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon. 

Today, selenium is very important to different industries. Researchers say that selenium supplementation is a useful measure to improve global health. In addition, farmers use selenium as supplements to prevent diseases and infertility in the animals.

 

Fast Facts

  • Selenium has a chemical symbol of Se and an atomic number of 34 in the periodic table of elements. 
  • Today, one of the biggest uses of selenium is it acts as an additive in making red-colored glass. 
  • Selenium appears in the earth's crust commonly as selenite and selenides that are associated with sulfide minerals. 
  • When light is shown on selenium, it conducts electricity better. 

 

Selenium Deficiency 

Selenium deficiency occurs when you have low selenium content in your system. It can lead to serious health problems. Selenium deficiency can lead to a rare heart disorder known as Keshan disease that results in congestive heart failure. The disease is common among people who live in places where soil-selenium levels are low. 

Low levels of selenium are also linked to heart disease and immunodepression. While researchers of a case-control study found out that selenium deficiency is a major risk factor for liver and thyroid cancer. Here are the following signs and symptoms if you are deficient in selenium:

- Vulnerability to infections
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
- Mental fog
- Hair loss
- Infertility

 

Health Benefits 

1. Powerful Antioxidant. Selenium has powerful antioxidant specially when combined with vitamin E. Fights free radicals that damage cells and acts as an anticancer antioxidant. It can help reduce your risk of having cancerous tumor development. 

2. Heart Health. Plays important role in promoting your heart rate and health. It can reduce your risk of having coronary heart disease, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. It can actually lower your bad cholesterol levels and inhibit platelet aggregation that can prevent clogging in your arteries.

3. Boosts Memory. Proven to be significant in making your brain healthy and supports proper brain function. Studies show it reduces your risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease because of its powerful antioxidant properties.

4. Thyroid Health. It is necessary for normal thyroid hormone production, metabolism, and activation. Regulates proper thyroid gland function and reduces negative symptoms caused by thyroid disorders like irritability, trouble sleeping, fatigue and other reactions.

5. Healthy Immune System. Boost your immune function and white blood cell development which is essential in protecting your body against infectious diseases. According to studies, it is needed for proper immune function. It is suggested in the treatment of depressed immune disorders such as lupus. 

6. Proper Blood Circulation. Selenium helps improve proper blood flow. It is also essential in healing wounds and cuts faster as it increases the quality of blood flow. Due to increased flow in your blood circulation, new blood carries oxygen and nutrients are necessary for faster healing of wounds. 

7. Reduces Asthma Symptoms. Reduces asthma symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing because it helps strengthen your immune system and contains powerful antioxidant properties. Studies also show that patients with chronic asthma have lower levels of selenium. 

8. Reproductive Health. When it comes to reproductive health, it can effectively assist fertility and healthy reproductive systems in both men and women. For male, selenium can support prostate function and sperm motility. For females, it promotes healthy follicles in the ovaries and reduces the risk of miscarriage. 

9. Relieves Inflammation. Studies show that selenium is effective in giving relief and treating inflamed joints and muscles since this mineral is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It is also suggested for the treatment of major symptoms related to myotonic dystrophy and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. 

10. Improves Mood. Selenium helps balance and improve your mood for it supports the cells in your nervous system. It is beneficial for people who experience mood swings. Mild to low levels has been linked to tiredness, anxiety, and depression as it reduces the production of neurotransmitters. 

 

Dietary Sources

The amount of selenium that can be found in food sources corresponds directly to the level of selenium in the soil. Deficiencies are recorded in parts of China and the West where there are low levels of selenium found in the soil.

Also, take note that food-source selenium is destroyed during food processing. A variety of whole and natural foods are recommended rather than foods that are commercially processed.

Brazil nuts contain the highest amount of selenium with 607 mcg per cup. Here are some of the following foods sources that are rich in selenium: 

  • Nuts & Seeds (Brazil nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cashew nuts, sesame seeds)
  • Seafood (yellowfin tuna, rockfish, herring, salmon, shrimp, sardines, oysters)
  • Vegetables & Fruits (spinach, white grapefruit, bananas, potato, peaches, carrots, lettuce)
  • Meat & Offal (roasted ham, beef, lamb and pork liver)
  • Poultry (chicken breast, eggs, turkey)
  • Others (brewer's yeast, mushrooms, brown rice, whole-wheat, cottage cheese, yogurt)

 

Selenium Supplements 

We recommend consulting your healthcare provider when it comes to taking medications and supplements. They know what is suitable and best for your health needs.

Selenium is available as part of any multivitamin and multimineral supplements, as well as all nutritional antioxidant formulas. An independent supplement which are often in the forms of selenomethionine, sodium selenite, and high selenium yeast. 

Research shows that about 90% of selenomethionine is absorbed in the body but only about 50% of selenium from selenite. Also, note that more than 400 mcg per day of supplemental selenium can be toxic. 

 

Dosage and Duration 

Dietary supplements should be taken with care because of the potential side effects and interactions it might cause. Always remember that you need to consult first your healthcare provider to know the right dosage and duration. Here’s the list for the minimum daily recommended dietary allowances of selenium:

Pediatric

Neonates to 6 months:

10 mcg

6 months to 1 year:

15 mcg

Children 1 to 6 years:

20 mcg

Children 7 to 10 years:

30 mcg

Males 11 to 14 years:

40 mcg

Females 11 to 14 years:

45 mcg

Adult

Males 15 to 18 years:

50 mcg

Males over 19 years:

70 mcg

Females 15 to 18 years:

50 mcg

Females over 19 years:

55 mcg

Pregnant females:

65 mcg

Lactating females:

75 mcg

 

According to clinical studies (Braun & Cohen 2010):

  • Asthma: 100 to 200 mcg/day sodium selenite
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: 300 mcg/day
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis: 200 mcg/day sodium selenite
  • Mood disturbances: 100 mcg/day
  • Infertility: 100 mcg/day

 

Precautions and Side Effects

Children and Pregnant Women. Keep out of reach of children. If not properly administered, it can lead to adverse effects. Make sure to consult first your healthcare provider before taking any kind of medications and supplements to prevent any overdose. 

Overdose. If you have taken high levels of selenium concentration, it can lead to selenium toxicity. May cause serious side effects such as garlicky breath, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, skin rashes, hair loss or alopecia and peripheral neuropathy. To avoid excessive selenium intake, it is still best to eat selenium-rich foods. 

Hypersensitivity. If you are hypersensitive to selenium or any component of the formulation of selenium supplements, you should not take it. We suggest getting your daily requirement of selenium from natural foods. also, we advise consulting your healthcare provider and dietitian to recommend the right dosage in your daily diet. 

Cisplatin. Selenium reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin, an inorganic platinum chemotherapy agent. It is used to treat bladder, lung, ovarian and other cancers without reducing the clinical effectiveness of this medication. So it is recommended not to take selenium and cisplatin together. 

Disclaimer: The vitamin health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.

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