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Selenium: An Important Mineral for Human Health

Selenium: An Important Mineral for Human Health

Max Lab

Aug 06, 2022

Selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins called selenoproteins, which help to make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections. These proteins present in selenium are involved in the production and metabolism of thyroid hormones. Selenium is a trace mineral which means that the body needs only a small amount of it. Selenium is rich in nutrition, vital to our health and must be obtained through diet. Read on to know more about selenium and its role in various health benefits to the human body:

Health benefits of Selenium:

Here are a few health benefits of Selenium, all backed by Science:

  • Acts as a powerful antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds in food that prevent cell damage caused by radicals. Free radicals are produced during the metabolism of the body. However, smoking and alcohol use can cause an excess of free radicals in the human body that leads to oxidative stress which leads to damaging healthy cells. Antioxidants like selenium help reduce oxidative stress by keeping free radical numbers in check and thereby protecting cells from damage.

  • Reduces the risk of cancer

Selenium’s role in DNA is to repair and reduce oxidative stress that boosts the immune system and helps destroy cancer cells. High blood levels of selenium may protect against certain types of cancer, while supplementing with selenium may help improve the quality of life in people undergoing radiation therapy.

  • Helps the thyroid work well

Our thyroid gland helps to make the hormones that regulate metabolism. There’s more selenium found in thyroid tissue than in any other human organ. A healthy intake of selenium helps to shield your thyroid, encouraging it to work well and keep you in good shape.

  • Boosts the immune system

The immune system keeps our body healthy by identifying and fighting off potential threats such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Selenium is crucial for the health and the proper functioning of the immune system. Higher levels of selenium may help boost the immune systems of people with HIV, influenza, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C.

Apart from this, a few other benefits of selenium include preventing HIV from progressing to AIDS and reducing the risk of miscarriage, helping prevent mental decline and memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Food sources of selenium

Our body relies on selenium, an important mineral, for many of its basic functions, from reproduction to fighting infection. It is often included in multivitamin formulations. The amount of selenium in different foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where the food was grown. Fortunately, there are many food sources rich in selenium. Brazil nuts, fish, ham, pork, beef, turkey, eggs, Yellowfin tuna, oysters, and sunflower seeds are a variety of food rich in selenium. There are times when you can’t be picky about your nutrition. If you can’t access selenium-rich foods, selenium supplements might help once a doctor has confirmed that you’re deficient. Talk with a qualified healthcare professional before you begin using a selenium supplement.

Diagnosis of selenium deficiency and toxicity

Before proceeding, the definition of both the terms can help in a better understanding:

  • Selenium deficiency: Refers to not having enough selenium in your system
  • Selenium toxicity: Also known as selenium poisoning. As you might guess, this is the presence of too much selenium in the body.

The selenium blood test measures the amount of selenium in the blood. It is very difficult to find selenium deficiency without a blood test. Individuals who are above fifty, undergoing dialysis, HIV infected and suffering from gastric problems should perform a selenium test in the nearest labs. The testing for selenium needs no fasting requirements and patients can give their blood samples to the service provider at any point in time. Other than this, a selenium urine test is the preferred specimen type for the assessment of selenium toxicity and deficiency.

Symptoms of selenium deficiency

Although selenium is necessary for good health, getting too much is not advised. Selenium deficiency doesn't necessarily cause obvious symptoms. However, selenium deficiency affects the immune system and may make an individual more likely to become ill. Selenium deficiency can cause several health problems and can be a cause of concern.  Symptoms of selenium deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle wasting
  • Heart problems

Selenium deficiency is rare, but it can get serious if it goes unchecked. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of it and absorbing it properly. If you think you may have a selenium deficiency, work with a qualified healthcare professional to rule out the possible causes of your symptom.


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