It is found in many selenium-rich fruits and vegetables and some animal products.

To say that selenium is important is an understatement. Low selenium levels are actually linked to conditions such as Keshan disease, heart disease, and infertility. Let’s look at what selenium means to your health.

1. Selenium Is A Powerful Antioxidant

Selenium works as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are substances thaslow or prevent cell damage by neutralizing free radicals. Selenium protects against free radicals and oxidative stress. It’s an active immunomodulator and a more potent antioxidant than vitamins A, C, or E.[

Selenium combines with other proteins to create selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases. These proteins act as antioxidants to support health at the cellular level.

2. Thyroid Support

The thyroid is a gland in the throat that produces hormones. The hormones produced by the thyroid affect growth and metabolic processes. Compared to other tissue in the human body, the thyroid contains the most selenium per gram. Like iodine, selenium plays an important role in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.

There have been many studies on selenium and thyroid disease, often with mixed or contradictory results. One study linked low selenium levels to thyroid problems in the elderly. Unfortunately, in that instance, selenium supplementation did little to help. However, another study found that selenium supplementation during pregnancy reduced hypothyroidism and inflammation. Yet another study found selenium supplementation decreases the negative effects of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

More research is needed to draw conclusions, but the potential of selenium as it relates to thyroid health is encouraging.

3. Anti-Aging Properties of Selenium

Free radical damage causes the cellular degeneration we know as aging.  As a powerful antioxidant, selenium neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals. One study revealed that selenium levels decline with age and low selenium contributes to cognitive decline in older adults. There is great interest in determining whether selenium supplementation can slow age-related mental impairment. Hopefully, we learn more soon.

4. Encourages Metal Detoxification

Metals are among the most toxic of pollutants. Effective ways to detoxify the body of toxic metals are few and far between. The good news? Data suggests that supplementing with organic (carbon-bound) selenium supports mercury excretion.

5. Cardiovascular Support

It’s clear that there is a relationship between selenium concentration and cardiovascular health. Some heart attack patients show low selenium levels and incidences of heart failure caused by selenium deficiency have been reported since as early as 1937. Not only is selenium itself important for cardiovascular support, it works with other nutrients such as vitamin E and beta-carotene to help promote normal cholesterol levels.

6. Reproductive Health

Selenium is critical for both male and female reproductive health. It enables sperm locomotion and a selenium deficiency can lead to male infertility. Studies have found that low selenium can also have a negative impact on female fertility and fetal growth.There seems to be a link between selenium deficiency and miscarriage, but more research is necessary to determine the exact mechanism.

7. Selenium and Cancer

Studies have observed a trend in which lower concentrations of selenium correlated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer.  Although this is an interesting tidbit of information, it shouldn’t be interpreted as an implication that selenium is a treatment or method of prevention for cancer. While selenium has many benefits, there is not conclusive evidence to call it a viable treatment option.

How Selenium Benefits Your Health

We do know that selenium is an essential mineral that’s crucial to many bodily functions. Natural sources, like fruits and vegetables, are the best way to incorporate selenium into your diet. Selenium supplementation may also be appropriate for people who are experiencing a selenium deficiency. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough selenium, talk to your nutritionist and see if selenium supplementation is right for you.


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