Selenium & It’s Supplements – A Complete Guide
An essential trace mineral, selenium is needed by the human body in small amounts and yet it plays an important role in facilitating major processes in the body like metabolism and thyroid functioning.
In this guide, we are looking at the various health benefits of selenium, major food sources, its deficiency, and the supplements you can take to prevent these deficiencies. Let’s get started.
Selenium Health Benefits
Acts As A Powerful Antioxidant
You may or may not have heard about the concept of free radicals. Free radicals are basically build-up that gets accumulated in the body on a daily basis. It is essentially a by-product that is derived from processes like metabolism. They are often seen in a negative light but free radicals could actually be beneficial for the body.
It performs several important tasks which also includes protecting the body from diseases. However, an excess of free radical build up in the body can lead to oxidative stress. This oxidative stress damages healthy cells and has been linked to heart diseases, stroke, and cancer.
Antioxidants are chemical ingredients in food that reverse the damage caused by these free radicals and protect the cells. Selenium works as an antioxidant to help reduce oxidative stress by balancing out excess free radicals and protects the cells from further damage.
In conclusion, as a powerful antioxidant, selenium is responsible for fighting against oxidative stress and protects your system against chronic illnesses.
Powers Your Immune System
The immune system in the human body is responsible for locating threats like bacteria and viruses and killing them off in order to protect and keep your system in a healthy working condition. Selenium again works as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress which in turn lowers the inflammation levels in the system and boosts immunity.
Research has proved that when the selenium level in the bloodstream increased, it led to an improved immune system.
On the contrary, lower levels of selenium can cause harm to the cells in the immune system which leads to a slower immune response.
A deficiency in selenium has also been linked to a heightened risk of death and worsening conditions in people with HIV. However, studies have shown an improvement in the symptoms when patients were supplemented with selenium supplements.
In addition to that, selenium supplements make the immune system stronger in people suffering from tuberculosis or hepatitis C.
Boosts Thyroid Health
It is a little known fact that the thyroid gland actually stores the most amount of selenium than any other body part. Hence sufficient levels of selenium are important for the efficient functioning of the thyroid gland.
A healthy thyroid gland controls metabolism functioning and boosts growth. As a powerful antioxidant, selenium protects the thyroid glands against oxidative stress and facilitates the production of thyroid hormones.
A deficiency in selenium content has been linked to thyroid issues like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis wherein the immune system poses a threat to the thyroid gland. However, more proof is needed before concluding that selenium supplements can be prescribed to patients suffering from Hashimoto disease.
Food Sources of Selenium
Plant-based food items like organic vegetables are a healthy source of selenium. However, the level of selenium in each vegetable depends upon the level of selenium that was present in the soil where the vegetable was grown.
Food sources high in selenium are,
- Seafood like fish and shellfish
- Brazilian nuts
- Whole grains
- Red meat
- Brewer’s yeast
- Wheat germ
- Whole wheat bread
Ideal Selenium Intake Chart
The best method to ensure you are sufficiently consuming the required amount of selenium is to eat a balanced diet.
The amount of selenium your body needs entirely depends upon the age bracket you fall in and your gender.
Other important pointers to consider are any underlying diseases or pregnancy as women who are carrying a baby or our breastfeeding require a higher than normal intake of selenium.
Selenium Deficiency Symptoms
Selenium refers to not having enough selenium content in your system. A deficiency in the level of selenium can cause a lot of health complications. These include,
- Weak immune system
- Constant tiredness or fatigue.
- Increased risk of infertility in men and women
- Weak muscles
- Multiple incidents of brain fog
- Excessive hair loss
Too much or little of any mineral is harmful to the human body. Hence, too much selenium can also lead to symptoms like,
- Mild nerve damage
- Constant irritation
- Brittle nails
- Excessive hair loss
Selenium Supplements – What You Should Know?
As mentioned earlier, the selenium content in food sources largely depends on the soil in which that food was grown. Nowadays soils are losing their essential nutrients due to technologically advanced agricultural methods that strip the soil of its vitamins and minerals. This leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies becoming more and more rampant in developing countries.
This also gives rise to an increased demand for supplements enriched with essential vitamins and minerals. Let’s look at the supplements rich in selenium below,
Selenium supplements are generally available in two forms – Organic and Inorganic.
Organic Selenium Supplements – Organic forms of supplements include selenomethionine, methylselenocysteine, and selenocysteine. Organic forms are of superior quality and are better absorbed into the bloodstream.
Inorganic Selenium Supplements – Inorganic supplements include compounds of selenite and selenate in their purest form. However, inorganic supplements are known to get quickly excreted from the body once they reach the bloodstream.
Minerals are such an important part of our diet please explore this site to learn more about them.