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Selenium

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a trace mineral that the body uses to help aide in the health of the thyroid gland. It also assists a variety of other body processes by working as an antioxidant and fighting free radicals that could potential cause damage to cells.

What does Selenium do?

Selenium is a key fighter for the body against infections. It helps stimulate antibodies that are necessary to fight invasive bacteria and viruses. Overall, selenium works to increase the body’s energy alongside its work as a powerful antioxidant.

Some of the benefits associated with selenium’s work as an antioxidant include anti-aging type results associated with the removal of potentially harmful elements such as mercury, cadmium and lead from the body.

For women, selenium can play a key role in relieving symptoms of menopause. Maintaining balanced selenium levels in males can promote healthy sperm counts. For both men and women, selenium works to increase pancreatic function and promote tissue elasticity.

Where is Selenium found?

Selenium is primarily found in foods and water that are available for consumption. Plant-based products tend to have higher selenium content, especially those plants that were grown in selenium-rich soil. Similarly, animal-based food products that come from animals raised on selenium-rich soil will contain sufficient amounts of mineral benefits.

Great sources of food products that contain selenium include crabmeat, brown rice, pork, Brazil nuts, beef, whole wheat bread, milk, black walnuts and prawns.

Additionally, selenium is available as an over the counter dietary supplement in capsule form. It’s important to note that excess selenium levels can be caused by taking unnecessary supplements for trace minerals. Symptoms of excess selenium consumption may include dermatitis, fatigue, garlic breath, eye irritation, yellowing of the skin or general fatigue.

What happens when someone has a Selenium deficiency?

Because selenium works to regulate thyroid functions, an individual with a thyroid problem may also experience a selenium deficiency. Symptoms of a selenium deficiency could potentially result in one of two very serious conditions. The first is Keshan’s Disease which affects the heart while the second is Kashin-Beck Disease which results in osteoarthritis type symptoms.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Selenium

Selenium is often credited with reducing the risk of certain cancers. Studies have shown that people who live in areas with soil that lacks sufficient selenium have higher cancer statistics. Selenium also promotes a healthy immune system through antibody activation. People with balanced levels of selenium are often more resilient against infections and diseases.

Additionally, selenium’s effect on blood can improve overall circulation. This is generally believed to help prevent strokes and heart attacks. Finally, some studies have shown that selenium has a positive effect on the reduction of HIV/AIDS symptoms. While it is definitely not a complete cure for either condition, individuals who suffer from HIV or AIDS are often prescribed selenium supplements as a possible path to decreasing the effects of condition symptoms. In general, selenium supplements work well when combined with Vitamin C and E, iron, iodine or zinc.

Selenium – AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Micrograms per Day
15
20

 

Selenium – RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

Children
1-3 years
4-8 years
Micrograms per Day
20
30
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

40
55
55
55
55
55
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

40
55
55
55
55
55
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

60
60
60
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

70
70
70

 

Sources:
http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/vivisimo/cgi-bin/query-meta?v%3Aproject=medlineplus&query=selenium&x=24&y=20
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1003-selenium.aspx?activeIngredientId=1003&activeIngredientName=selenium&source=1
http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/minerals/selenium.html
http://nutrition.about.com/od/mineralglossary/g/selenium.htm
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/
USDA Dietary Reference Intakes