As an essential mineral, selenium plays an important role in keeping your mind and body healthy. From your metabolism, your thyroid function, and beyond, selenium might not be a nutrient you’ve heard of, but it’s one that you simply can’t do without — and that’s why selenium is such an important component for your health.
Selenium In a Nutshell
Selenium is known as an essential mineral, which means the human body needs it in order to function but doesn’t produce it on its own. For most of us, the amounts of selenium that are in the water we drink and the foods we eat are usually enough to satisfy our body’s needs for this mineral. In cases of selenium deficiency, however, it’s important to take a supplement that includes selenium to keep your body working properly.
What Does Selenium Do?
Selenium’s central role in the human body is in the metabolism, as it acts as a cofactor in a number of enzymatic processes related to the digestion and processing of other nutrients necessary for our survival. In addition to its role in metabolic function, selenium is also an important component for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, and any part of the body that uses thyroid-produced hormones.
What Are the Health Benefits of Selenium?
While metabolic and thyroid functions are obviously important, that’s not all selenium can do for the human body. In fact, recent scientific research into the health benefits of selenium has revealed some interesting facts about this essential mineral!
Antioxidants play an important role in the human body, as these compounds help keep us in better health as we age. Antioxidants work by binding to dangerous free radicals in our body that would otherwise lead to oxidative damage to cell tissues, and selenium has been shown to have high antioxidant properties. This makes selenium even more important to your overall health!
Cancer is one of the leading causes for death, and ways to both prevent and treat different types of cancer are constantly being researched by medical professionals. Research has found a correlation between high levels of selenium and a lower incidence of certain cancers, especially cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and colon.
Heart health is essential for better living, and selenium seems to play a prominent role in ensuring your cardiovascular system stays healthy and strong. Research has shown that higher levels of selenium correlate with lower chances of heart disease. It is thought that selenium’s ability to reduce oxidative stress, and its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, are behind these cardioprotective benefits.
Brain Health Benefits
Selenium may also play a role in strengthening the mind. High levels of selenium are thought to protect against the onset of degenerative brain disease thanks to its antioxidant ability; in fact, research has shown that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of selenium in their blood. Other research has shown that diet high in selenium has also been associated with a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Immune System Benefits
Selenium also plays a role in strengthening your body’s immune system, helping it fight off dangerous infections. In fact, when it comes to patients facing serious illness such as HIV, taking selenium supplements is linked to fewer hospitalizations and improvement in symptoms.
Asthma Symptom Management
Last but not least, there has been some very promising research into the role that selenium plays in managing the symptoms of asthma. It’s thought that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of selenium help reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks, based on this research.
What Are the Side Effects of Selenium?
While generally safe when taken in normal amounts, there are some side effects of taking large doses of selenium. These include muscle tenderness, tremors, lightheadedness, facial flushing, and problems with liver and kidney function as well as issues with blood clotting. Very high doses can lead to nausea, vomiting, irritability, and loss of energy, especially if taken over a long period of time, which can result in selenium poisoning. Remember, your body just needs a little selenium to function; too much is just as bad as not enough!
How Much Selenium Should I Take?
The human body needs very little selenium to stay healthy, and dosing levels for selenium are measured in micrograms as a result. In fact, the US recommended daily allowances are set at 75mcg for men and 60mcg for women, but it’s generally safe to take supplements with as much as 400 micrograms of selenium daily.
What Are the Signs of Selenium Deficiency?
There are a number of signs of selenium deficiency, but there are a few symptoms that are more prevalent than others. They include muscle weakness, fatigue, and mental fog; hair loss; a weakened immune system; and infertility in both men and women.
Which Foods Are Naturally Rich in Selenium?
There are a number of foods that are excellent sources of selenium. These include rice, beans, whole-wheat bread, Brazil nuts, and yellowfin tuna. However, sometimes dietary restrictions may preclude you from getting the right amount of selenium from the food you eat. In the event that your diet is deficient in selenium-rich foods, taking a selenium supplement is an excellent way to ensure you get the selenium your body needs to remain healthy.
The Little Mineral That Packs a Big Punch
Selenium is a lot like oxygen: you don’t realize how much you need it until it’s gone. Not only that, but the health benefits of selenium go much farther than simply keeping your body functioning properly. Thanks to its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, selenium plays a major role in improving heart health, protecting mental acuity, keeping your immune system strong, minimizing the impact of asthma, and possibly even staving off cancer. This little mineral does indeed pack a big punch when it comes to keeping you safe and healthy, and that’s why a nutritional supplement that contains selenium is such an important component of your continued health.