Last Updated June 13th, 2021
What is selenium?
Selenium is an amazing nutrient which is a mineral that is derived from the soil in various ways. Though it was a part of every dietary plan it came to the limelight in 1972. Plants derive selenium from the soil while other organisms obtain the same based on its availability in a specified geographical location.
This mineral is available in natural food sources like poultry, fish, cereal, and eggs. This mineral specializes in working as an antioxidant in the body and keeps tissues healthy by preventing cell damage. Selenium is an important trace element that plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy brain, immune system, thyroid, reproductive, and lung function.
Selenium has also been labeled with another name called, selenoproteins. It was named so as it consists of small clusters of an important protein that influence our well-being. Selenium was found by a Swedish chemist, Jöns Jacob Berzelius in 1817. The word Selenium was derived from a Greek word Selene which means moon. Selenium was named so as showed a bright and gray color contrast when melted. Selenium deficiency leads to excessive pain in muscles and joints, unhealthy hair and white spots on fingernails.
Why do you need selenium?
The intake of Selenium helps in improving the below mentioned health benefits,
A powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are essential compounds present in food that help prevent cells from getting damaged which are initiated by free radicals. These radicals are active members that help in metabolism on a daily basis. Selenium helps reduce oxidative stress and keeps free radical numbers in check.
By fighting and keeping an eye on the oxidative stress Selenium helps defend the body from chronic ailments such as heart diseases and cancer. It has also played a vital role in helping HIV patients by showcasing its antioxidants properties that can reduce the number of infected cells. As a useful trace element to reduce oxidative stress, it contributes its part in curing diabetes. It boosts glucose levels and regulates metabolic processes related to the production of insulin in the body.
Reduces cancer risk
A single mineral has the significant potential to fight cancerous cells. Well, Selenium is the miracle worker; it is blessed with the capacity to prevent the risk of cancer by strengthening the immune system. It contributes its part in preventing cancer by reducing the damages caused to the DNA and boosting the immune system which destroys any cancerous growth or cell.
Protects your heart
Several theories have proved that a low level of Selenium causes the risk of coronary heart diseases.The dietary protein, selenoproteins, helps prevent cardiovascular diseases by preventing the oxidative modification of lipids and fats in the body. This influences the construction of platelets and also plays its part in reducing inflammation.
Reduces cognitive decline
The antioxidant quality in Selenium helps reduce risks related to cognitive or mental disorders which get worse with age. Experiencing psychological problems has become a part and parcel of every individual’s world. The result of a mental disturbance can eventually lead to psychological tantrums (emotional outburst). The administration of Selenium helps build their immune system and influences a change in their mood and behavior.
Exceptional anti-aging properties
Selenium is a well-known warrior that helps fight free radical cells. These free radical cells are specialists to eliminate healthy tissues and cells and cause a person to lose their spark by making them age quicker. Being a powerful antioxidant, Selenium fights them and ensures to keep you young and healthy.
Keeps a check on your thyroid health
A single alternation to your thyroid gland can reflect several other health issues and make it difficult for a person to maintain a healthy life. Selenium is, therefore, a mandatory mineral that encourages the thyroid gland to produce the necessary hormones to keep us up to the mark. By doing so the thyroid gland performs its normal functions including sleep, appetite, body temperature, etc., without any disruption.
Helps you live longer and healthier
Selenium is a vital mineral that contributes to increasing your longevity. The special features in Selenium help a person remain vibrant and health by conquering the immune system and making it stronger against diseases and disorders. This active trace mineral, though needed in a smaller has still been of larger dependency to the human race.
Reduce symptoms related to asthma
Patients suffering from chronic asthma reveal lower levels of Selenium in their body. It is essential to prescribe Selenium supplements to asthma patients as it can help boost their immunity and reduce the symptoms associated with asthma.
A natural detoxifier
Selenium is a rich supplement that helps to remove all the toxic substances present in the body and rebuild the same into healthy cells. By detoxifying the unwanted elements, Selenium helps keep the liver and the other corresponding organs healthy.
The consumption of Selenium can enhance fertility both in men and women. The intake of Selenium helps in sperm motility and production. By increasing its motility rate, Selenium helps the sperm to actively fertilize the egg. The low levels of Selenium in males can cause infertility and in females can affect the growth of the fetus and infertility.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Selenium:
For kids: 0-3 years: 20 mcg ; 4-8 years : 30 mcg; 9-13 years : 40 mcg
Teenagers and adults: 55-60 mcg
Pregnant and lactating women: 60-70 mcg
Best natural sources of selenium
Fortunately, Selenium is available in many healthy foods; the following foods are great sources of Selenium,
Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts are well known for its high Selenium content. As the saying goes, “two Brazil nuts a day, helps keep the doctor away.” The consumption of Brazil nuts helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). Brazil nuts can be used as a snack and are absolutely a delight to vegetarians.
Pinto beans (raw): Pinto beans are not only a natural source of Selenium but also foster minerals like folate, manganese, thiamine, copper, and magnesium. It helps better when eaten as a sprout and contributes to keeping a person healthy.
Sunflower seeds: The sunflower seeds are plant-based sources of Selenium. This plant-based source is available in several forms such as snacks, salads, homemade vegan burgers, and meatballs.
Sardines and Halibut (cooked): Sardines don’t just cater the body with essential fatty acids but also with the required amount of Selenium. Sardines help with anti-inflammatory benefits and play an important role in cell signaling, immunity, mood, and cognitive health. Halibut, despite its cons, is a rich contributor of Selenium.
Grass-fed beef: Grass-fed beef is not just a great source of zinc and conjugated linolenic acid (refers to a group of chemicals found in the fatty acid linoleic acid) but also provides foods rich in Selenium.
Skipjack tuna (cooked): These tunas are caught with the help of a Pacific troll or pole. These tunas have low mercury levels and are loaded with Selenium.
Beef liver: Beef liver is a rich source of several nutrients including Selenium. The consumption of beef liver helps in improving varied health conditions.
Oats: Oats contain soluble fibers that make it a healthy food for various medical conditions. These soluble fibers are active Selenium that helps in controlling the LDL (bad cholesterol) and promoting the HDL (good cholesterol) in our body.
Chicken: The best way to make use of chicken is by opting for organic chicken which consists of the required Selenium and other nutrients in a balanced proportion and free from any chemical ingestions. Chicken is well known for its high content of protein and Selenium.
Turkey: Turkey is just not a delicacy for Thanksgiving but also contains a rich source of Selenium. This Thanksgiving bird is a protein cum Selenium benefactor which helps build the calm-inducing amino acids.
Eggs: Eggs make it to a healthy list of foods as it contains iodine and Selenium which play a vital role in several mechanisms of the body.
Spinach: It’s just not a vitamin K kick started but also a treat to vegetarian and definitely finds a suitable place in the long list of vegan-approved Selenium food sources.
The most common and mouth-watering recipes that are high contributors of Selenium are grilled vegetable burgers, creamy cauliflower, carrot and Brazil nut soup, baked egg, spinach specialties, and turkey stir-fry.
The dangers of selenium deficiency
As it derives its sources from the soil, Selenium deficiency is prominently seen in geographical places that lack Selenium content in their soil. Regions in China and some parts of Europe sadly fall under this list. The symptoms associated with Selenium deficiency are as follows,
- Weakened immune system
- Infertility in men and women
- Mental Fog
- Muscle weakness
- Hair loss
- Thyroid dysfunction
Excess selenium intake dangers
An excessive intake of Selenium can lead to unwanted side effects. The early signs that you show up when affected by Selenium are bad breath and a metallic taste in your mouth. The commonly known clinical signs of chronically high Selenium intakes are hair and nail loss, brittleness, skin lesions, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, irritability, nervous breakdown or any abnormality in the nervous system and fatigue.
This natural mineral has portrayed an array of benefits which include boosting your immune, heart and thyroid health. The constant intake of Selenium in the natural food source is the best and most favorable way to keep up with the benefits that it showers. Consuming it based on the required amount can ensure better outcomes for a healthy venture.
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