The Pros and Cons of Selenium

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Selenium is an essential mineral. Every part of our body contains trace amounts of the stuff. When mixed with proteins, selenium turns to selenoprotein. Selenoprotein acts as antioxidant. It creates a protective layer to prevent oxidative stress in major organs. Oxidative stress causes healthy cells to mutate. It also causes damage to the organs. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, keeping the organs in tip top shape! Selenium is also instrumental in promoting healthy thyroid gland. The thyroid generates important hormones to regulate the metabolism.

What Foods are Rich in Selenium?

Most foods contain trace amounts of selenium. Brazil nuts, walnuts, and sunflower nuts are rich in this mineral as well. Meats like poultry, beef and certain types of fishes are great sources of selenium as well. Adding whole grains like barley and oatmeal to your diet also helps supplement your selenium intake.

Selenium Deficiency and Toxicity

Although rare, some people do suffer from selenium deficiency. Signs and symptoms of selenium deficiency include muscle weakness, hypothyroidism, and fatigue. Long term effects of selenium deficiency include reproductive problems, heart diseases, and metabolic disorders.

Health Benefits of Selenium

Clinical tests show that selenium could help lower cholesterol level in the body. It also boosts the level of good cholesterol, preventing the development of cardiovascular diseases. Selenium may also help prevent type 2 diabetes. One research concludes that a diet with selenium-rich foods helps promote bile production.

Individuals suffering from severe burns or skin trauma will benefit from taking selenium supplements. The mineral helps heal and restore damaged skin cells. Most burn victims are given selenium supplements to speed up the recovery time.

And because selenium acts as antioxidants, it also treats a variety of skin and scalp disorders. Taking selenium with other vitamins like C or E enhances its efficacy. Together, they delay the early signs of aging and improves the texture of the skin!

Factors To Consider Before Taking Selenium Supplements

Although selenium is a critical part of a healthy diet, it works best in smaller amount. You see, excessive selenium is toxic to human health. Selenium toxicity and poisoning do happen. Often, it’s hard to recognize symptoms of selenium poisoning. The symptoms are similar to other disorders. Signs and symptoms of excessive selenium include nausea and hair loss. It could also lead to abnormal fingernail beds, nail loss, and skin disorders.

Also, the mineral could disrupt several medications. If you or a loved one is taking medication for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, cut back on selenium-rich foods.

Individuals suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease, Kashin-Beck’s or Keshan’s disease should also reduce their intake of selenium-rich foods. If you are afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, do not take selenium supplements, it may worsen your condition.

According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for selenium is: 70 mcg of selenium for average male adult and 55 mcg for average female adult. Pregnant women should take 60 mcg of Selenium and 70 mcg for those who are breastfeeding.

If you’re eating food rich in selenium, try not to take supplements. You only need small amount of the stuff to stay healthy. Also, excessive selenium may increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, brain or respiratory disorders.


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