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Selenium: the many benefits

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Posted on 10-31-2017

Selenium is an essential trace mineral which is important to human health. It is a constituent of selenoprotein and it can act both as an enzyme and a structural protein. Glutathione enzyme needs selenium in its active site for the proper functioning. This enzyme is responsible for destroying harmful oxygen free radicals. It is best known as an antioxidant and is important in the production of active thyroid hormone. Selenium is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system and therefore it is a vital element in preventing HIV virus infection progressing into AIDS. Selenium can also improve male fertility by helping in synthesis of testosterone, formation and development of spermatozoa and sperm motility. It can even reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Many researches have confirmed that selenium is important to the brain. Deficiency of selenium can lead to low mood and depression. When diet is supplemented with selenium, the mood appears to improve. Selenium may also protect the cardiovascular system. It has been estimated that platelet aggregability is inversely related to the status of the selenium level in men with cardiovascular disease. There is evidence that selenium even protects against atherosclerosis which is the main killer in heart patients.  Because of its antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects, selenium can influence the disease process in rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis and asthma. Selenium supplementation would benefit in preventing the ischemia reperfusion injury. Several studies have been done to assess selenium supplementation in preventing cancer. It is said that hepato cellular carcinoma, colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer can be prevented. The body needs to excrete toxic metals such as mercury and cadmium for health and selenium can facilitate this by detoxifying and excreting these toxic metals.

The recommended dietary allowance of selenium is 55µg per day for an adult although it can change according to the age and sex. However these values vary when considering different parts of the world because of differences in the availability of selenium. The deficiency of selenium can be seen in areas where soil is deficient in selenium and this leads to muscle pain and weakness with dysfunction of the body. Brazil nuts contain the highest amount of selenium. Other foods containing selenium include; yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines, and grass fed beef, turkey, beef liver, chicken, egg and spinach.


·         Top 10 Foods High in Selenium - DrAxe.com. (2017). Dr. Axe. Retrieved 13 October 2017, from https://draxe.com/top-10-foods-high-selenium/

·         Rayman, M. (2000). The importance of selenium to human health. The Lancet, 356(9225), 233-241. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(00)02490-9

·         Nève, J. (1991). Physiological and nutritional importance of selenium. Experientia, 47(2), 187-193. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/bf01945424

·         Selenium. (2017). WebMD. Retrieved 13 October 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-selenium#1

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