Recent studies have shown that selenium works quickly and stimulates cellular growth and prevents the cells from becoming cancerous. Based on test tube studies, experts have suggested that selenium’s cancer fighting abilities are fast acting and highly beneficial. Selenium, though a trace mineral, has potent anti-oxidant properties and is also beneficial as a anti-aging agent. Selenium is found naturally in various foods and is also beneficial in treating selenium deficiency symptoms
An adult human body needs approximately 50 micrograms of selenium each day for normal functioning. The trace mineral is present in various organs of the body including the kidney, liver, pancreas and spleen.
Some of the common factors responsible for selenium deficiency include gastro-intestinal bypass surgery, impaired colon functioning and Intravenous feeding for prolonged period of time. Excessive consumption of refined and processed foods can also result in the deficiency.
Selenium deficiency can result in several complications which include,
- Extreme tiredness and chronic fatigue
- Hypothyroidism may also develop due to lack of this mineral
- Generalized muscular weakness and body ache are also observed. Selenium deficiency is also associated with joint pain and weakness.
- Reduced mental functions with poor memory and poor concentration
- Keshan disease can occur due to selenium deficiency which is characterized by impaired cardiac functioning and enlarged heart. The condition may also give rise to arrhythmias.
- Deficiency increases the risk of developing cancers.
Health Benefits of Selenium: Selenium Overdose Risk
Regular intake of foods and supplements containing selenium, have been know to provide several health benefits,
- Selenium helps improve the HDL to LDL (i.e. good cholesterol to bad cholesterol) ratio and lowers the risk of heart attacks. Further, it helps in reducing ‘blood thickness’ and decreases the risk of clot formations.
- According to a study published in US Journal, Agricultural Research, selenium taken in combination with Vitamin E can convert inactive viruses into active and disease causing forms. These findings reiterated the role of selenium in providing protection against shingles, cold sores and other viral infections like flu and common cold. It is also known to reduce the progression of dreaded disease like HIV/AIDS
- Selenium has protective action against development of macular degeneration and cataract.
- Combination of Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q10 along with selenium has been found effective against a host of ailments including eczema, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Long term consumption of selenium dose in excess of 900 micrograms can result in complications like fatigue, hair loss, changes in the finger nails, skin rash,depression and nausea. Always consult your medical professional before taking high dose selenium supplements.
Consuming foods that are rich in selenium can suffice the dietary requirement and supplementation is often not required. Here are some important sources of Selenium,
- A single Brazil Nut contains as much as 120 micrograms of selenium and provides the highest concentration of selenium. Red Snapper is another important source of selenium
- Grains namely wheat bran, Oats, brown rice also contain selenium, which depends on the quantity of selenium content in the soil
- Sea foods are also a great source of selenium
- Poultry including eggs and chicken also contain selenium. Meat is another good source of the mineral.
- Herbs like Garlic also contain considerable amounts of the mineral.
It is often recommended to consume 500 IU of Vitamin E, which considerably enhances the effectiveness of the trace mineral.