Selenium is a trace mineral that like other nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. It is essential for cognition, immune system function, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and fertility. It is also an antioxidant, meaning it protects the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection. Most selenium in the body is stored in muscle tissue, although the thyroid gland holds the highest concentration of selenium due to various selenoproteins that assist with thyroid function. In recent years, selenium is being studied for a potentially reducing the risk of some cancers; however, more research is required.
Since selenium is a trace element it means that large doses are not advisable because of long-term side effects from taking too much. It is also important to keep minerals and trace minerals in balance because they can each help prevent toxicity problems with other elements. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for selenium for all adults and pregnant /lactating women is 400 mcg daily.
According to Health Canada’s MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS MONOGRAPH:
- Helps normal growth and development.
- Source of antioxidant(s) for the maintenance of good health.
- Source of an antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative stress.
- Provides antioxidant(s) that help protect cells against the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
- Helps to maintain/support normal function of the thyroid gland.
- Helps to prevent selenium deficiency.
- Adults require 3.5 to 200 mcg per day.
Are you SELENIUM deficient?
A deficiency of selenium can contribute to various conditions such as dry skin, dandruff, fatigue, hair loss, cataracts and even some types of cancer. An interesting fact is that Europeans for example have lower selenium levels than North Americans and this is due to the European soil being more nutrient depleted.
Humans get their selenium from diet. Protein foods from animals are generally good sources of selenium. Although Americans obtain most of their selenium from everyday staples like breads, cereals meats and eggs, Brazil nuts are known to have high selenium content. They are actually so high in selenium and even when grown in soil that is not rich in the element, a single nut contains enough selenium to meet the daily requirement for a human adult.