Selenium for Cardiovascular and Thyroid Disease Prevention - vitaminsonly

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. It can also prevent early symptoms of aging for it can maintain the elasticity of your tissues, organs as well as promote your cardiovascular system. 

A lot of studies also prove that adding selenium, vitamin E and other necessary antioxidants in your diet can effectively boost your immune system as it 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 and 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 after 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 livestock which is a natural way to prevent heart diseases, joint problems, 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 levels in your system. It can lead to serious health problems. Studies show that deficiency on the mineral can lead to a rare heart disorder known as Keshan disease, which 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 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. Studies show that selenium contains powerful antioxidant properties, especially if it is combined with vitamin E. It can help fight free radicals that may damage cells and also acts as an anticancer antioxidant which can help reduce your risk of having cancerous tumor development. 

2. Heart Health. Plays an important role in promoting your heart for it can reduce your risk of having coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, 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 also suggest that it can lower your chances or delay the early onset 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. It helps regulate proper thyroid function and reduces negative symptoms caused by thyroid disorders such as irritability, muscle weakness, weight gain or loss, 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 and 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 the increased flow in your blood circulation, new blood carries oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for the faster healing of wounds. 

7. Reduces Asthma Symptoms. Beneficial in asthma and reducing its symptoms such as 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 can also be 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 of the mineral 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, so 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 and provide a 1,103% in percent daily value (DV). 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 do recommend consulting your healthcare provider when it comes to taking medications and supplements since 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 and 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 for the supplements you are planning to take. Here’s the list for the minimum daily recommended dietary allowances of selenium:


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


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, it can lead to selenium toxicity which can 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 can reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin, an inorganic platinum chemotherapy agent that 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. 


National Institutes of Health
Dr. Axe

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