What is selenium?
Selenium is a trace mineral, which is mostly found in the soil. Since it is found in the soil, it is also present in certain food items and small traces in water. Selenium is one of the vital minerals for the human body. It helps boost the health of the immune system and actively takes part in antioxidant activities, which help in defending the body from free radicals that damage healthy cells.
Selenium also helps reduce inflammation and plays an important role in the maintenance of a healthy rate of metabolism. According to certain studies, it has been confirmed that consuming selenium leads to positive antiviral effects. It also helps in preventing the risk of cancer, thyroid problems, and other forms of autoimmune diseases.
Sources of Selenium
There are various food items that are good sources of selenium. They include eggs, sunflower seeds, liver (from beef or lamb), Brazil nuts, cod, and tuna. Selenium is also present in certain varieties of meat and poultry.
Whole food items are also considered as a good source of selenium, especially foods that have been handled and prepared in a delicate manner. There are chances that too much food processing can destroy the selenium content in foods.
Benefits of Selenium
When it comes to protecting the body, selenium plays an active role since it leads to an increase in the antioxidant capabilities and quality of blood flow. Such action leads to enhancing the body's resistance to fight off different types of diseases as well as chronic stress.
Due to the antioxidant properties of selenium, it is often regarded as a mineral that helps reduce free radical damage and inflammation. Thus, selenium has a lot of health benefits to the body. It is also helpful in minimizing the symptoms of asthma.
1. Defense Mechanism Against Cancer
Selenium is extremely beneficial for those who have an impaired immune system or have a history of cancer in the family. There have been interventions used with the help of selenium treatments at very high dosages and they have actually shown certain benefits against cancer.
According to one study, selenium has turned out to be effective in reducing the risk of developing cancer. It also reduces the severity of cancer in individuals, especially those who have liver, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Selenium acts like a body mechanic, wherein it goes into the nucleus of the cells, which has the genome and DNA stored and tends to find out the place where the damage is.
Selenium is known to attach itself to protective antioxidants such as glutathione, and works by reducing as well as repairing the damage done to the DNA. If the damage is left uncontrolled and no treatment is carried out, then it can lead to cancerous forms of cell mutation along with the growth of tumors. The reason is that selenium is known to have a special responsibility of activating selenoproteins, which have an enzymatic role in helping the antioxidants to properly carry out their jobs.
Aside from preventing cancer, it also helps in slowing down the growth of tumors or any existing forms of progressive cancer. According to research, it has been seen that a selenium dose of 200 mg a day is quite effective in DNA protection, thereby reducing the overall risk of cell mutations and the development of cancer. It has been observed that people who live in areas or places, which have low levels of selenium tend to have an increased risk of having cancer in comparison to those people who live in areas where the levels of selenium are higher in the soil.
2. Protection Against Oxidative Stress
One of the benefits of selenium is its ability to fight off the process of aging, thus boosting the immune system. As previously mentioned, selenium effectively helps in reducing free radical damage. Selenium has a synergistic effect with other antioxidants such as vitamin E. It helps in enabling the body to fight oxidative stress and also provide protection against prostate and colon cancer.
Selenium is one of the essential components of glutathione peroxidase, which is an enzyme for processes that help in the protection of lipids present in the cell membranes. Selenium is important to fight oxidative stress, which degrades the cells. It also protects the body against cell mutation and any instances of DNA damage, which can lead to serious medical conditions.
3. Improves the Circulation of Blood
Individuals who suffer from low levels of selenium in the body are often associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In such cases, they would be provided selenium supplements or would be asked to increase foods rich in selenium in their diet to avoid heart diseases.
It has been found that selenium is good for the heart due to its ability to fight off inflammation, leading to an increase in proper blood circulation, reduction of free radicals, and increased antioxidant activity.
4. Boosts the Immune System
According to studies, it has been discovered that the levels of selenium in the body are essential for the smooth and healthy functioning of the immune system. Selenium also plays a significant role in delaying the progression of HIV infection to AIDS. For individuals who are HIV-positive, the intake of selenium through foods or supplements has shown to be useful in slowing down the development of AIDS.
5. Thyroid Regulation
Research has shown that there is a link between thyroid metabolism and the deficiency of selenium in the body. Selenium is known to act as a stimulus for the active production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid glands are quite important since they play a significant role in the everyday functioning of the body such as sleeping, appetite control, weight gain or loss, energy production, temperature control, and much more.
Any thyroid gland problem would lead to symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, weight problems, muscle weakness, having trouble sleeping, and other forms of body reactions. Hence, it is quite important to have a sufficient amount of selenium in the body for the overall wellness of the body.
Most thyroid problems are related to a deficiency in selenium and how it tends to synthesize proper hormones. For this reason, selenium supplements are given to help treat any kind of autoimmune conditions as well as thyroid problems. Selenium acts as a thyroid protector and simultaneously regulates reactive oxygen production within the gland. It also protects the thyroid from antibodies, which can lead to the development of thyroid disease.
In one study, it was found out that taking selenium supplements during pregnancy helped in the reduction of hypothyroidism and inflammation. Other studies emphasized that selenium supplementation reduces the negative symptoms or effects caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
6. Boosts Fertility
Selenium is needed for the proper motility of sperm along with increasing the flow of blood. There are the two major components, which are involved in conception and infertility. Selenium is contained in sperm mitochondrial capsules. Thus, the levels of selenium in the body can affect the functioning and behavior of the sperm as they move through the vaginal canal.
Studies have confirmed that both high and low levels of selenium can lead to a negative effect on the sperm count. Certain studies have also mentioned that the intake of selenium supplements can lead to a reduction in the number of miscarriages. At this point, there is still more research about selenium supplementation and infertility in both men and women.
7. Reduces the Symptoms of Asthma
Certain studies have explained that individuals who have chronic asthma may also have low levels of selenium in the body. In one research, it was found that asthmatic individuals who took selenium supplements on a regular basis noticed a reduction of their symptoms. This was in comparison with those who were taking a placebo.
According to experts, the supplementation of selenium can be a useful add-on treatment for those who are suffering from a chronic case of asthma. But still, more research is required on this area before it becomes a regular practice.
8. Possesses Anti-Aging Properties
Free radical damage leads to the degeneration of cells, thus causing signs of aging. Selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant, helps in neutralizing such damaging effects. Since the level of selenium decreases as a person ages, the elderly have also become more prone to cognitive decline. There are studies still going on to determine whether the supplementation of selenium would help in slowing down mental impairment, which comes along with age.
9. Extends Longevity
Selenium contributes to the overall health and longevity of an individual. If you want to live healthier and longer, then selenium is the mineral that you should incorporate into your diet. There have been various studies conducted with the use of selenium for treating various types of medical conditions such as asthma, thyroid disorders, heart problems, and arthritis.
As one tends to age, the risk of these medical conditions also increases. Hence, the consumption of selenium as a supplement or in natural form can help defend the body against any kind of illness and at the same time contribute to a longer life. Selenium is a trace mineral, which would mean that only a small amount of this mineral is required on a daily basis.
However, remember that our body is able to quickly flush out this mineral since it plays an important role in various functions of the body. Thus, it is quite important to consume this mineral on a regular basis as we age to take advantage of all the benefits this mineral has to offer during the aging process.
10. Heavy Metal Detoxification
Selenium is an essential trace element, which has the ability to reduce the toxic effects of ions such as mercury (II) and cadmium (II).
- Selenium is one of the vital minerals for the human body. It helps boost the health of the immune system and actively takes part in antioxidant activities, which help in defending the body from free radicals that damage healthy cells.
- Due to the antioxidant properties of selenium, it is often regarded as a mineral that helps reduce free radical damage and inflammation. It is also helpful in minimizing the symptoms of asthma.
- Selenium is extremely beneficial for those who have an impaired immune system or have a history of cancer in the family.