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Benefits Of Selenium Supplements

Benefits Of Selenium Supplements

 Benefits of Selenium Supplements : Selenium (Se) is a vital mineral that exists in poultry, fish, cereal, and eggs. Until 1957, it was considered a toxic substance. But after that, some researches show that the proper amount has lots of health benefits.

  • Generally, Plants take in selenium from the soil. So, individuals in the whole world consume a different amount of selenium daily depending upon the concentration of the mineral present in the surrounding. That’s why people suffer from its deficiency depending upon the geography.
  • You may not hear about selenium; this amazing nutrient is essential to our health.
  • Selenium is considered as trace element of our body, because we need it in small but frequent amount. But it contributes a lot for increasing immune function, DNA synthesis, reproductive health, and thyroid hormone synthesis and fertility in both men and women. It also helps to protect against certain illness such as it helps in thyroid hormone metabolism, protect against oxidative damage and infection.

From a research, it was found that 1 billion people on this planet don’t consume enough bio available selenium.

The amount present in the food often depends on the concentration of the soil and water where farmers grew their foods.

Key points about selenium

•  Selenium is a vital nutrient that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions.

•   It protects against cancer, thyroid problems, cognitive decline, and asthma.

•   Brazil nuts, fish, brown rice and eggs are foods rich in selenium.

Selenium typically exists in two forms. Inorganic (selenite and selenite) and organic (selenomethionine and selenocysteine).  Both these forms are good dietary sources. Soil contains inorganic selenites and plants accumulate selenates and convert it into organic forms, primarily selenocysteine and selenomethionine and their methylated derivatives.

Selenomethionine form found in animal and human tissues, where it included non-specifically with amino acids methionine in body proteins. The major site of selenium storage is our skeletal muscle. It has approximately 28% to 46% of the total selenium content. Both selenocysteine and selenite decreased to generate hydrogen selenide, which is converted to selenophosphate for biosynthesis of selenoprotein.

The necessity of selenium

• Its antioxidant properties help our body to prevent cellular damage from free radicals and its most important role is as a cofactor of an antioxidant enzyme in our body known as glutathione peroxidase.

•  It also supports to build a strong immune system, regulates thyroid function, and help to reduce the prostate risk and secondary cancers.

•  Also plays a role in the prevention of cancers and heart diseases.

Symptoms of deficiency

Selenium deficiency is rare in US but the areas where its concentration in soil is low such as China, deficiencies are more. Deficiency leads to diseases such as Keshan disease (enlarged and poor heart commonly found in children), Kashin-Beck Disease (results in osteotherapy), and Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism (results in mental retardation). Signs include muscle weight and pain.

Health Benefits of Selenium

1. Acts as a powerful antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds present in our foods and help in preventing cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals have a bad rap, but these are very much essential for human health. They help in various functions such as metabolism that occur in our body and protecting the body from different diseases. And these free radicals are byproducts of metabolism process.

  • Smoking, use of alcohol, stress, depressions are the primary cause of the production of excess free radicals, which leads to oxidative stress and it damages healthy cells.
  • Oxidative stress is a condition, in which there is an imbalance between the free radicals production and through neutralization by antioxidants the capability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects.
  • Oxidative stress linked to other various diseases such as chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, premature aging as well as a risk of stroke.

Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and reduces the effect of oxidative stress by reducing the number of free radicals and protects the affected cells.

2. Reduce the risk of certain cancers

Acting as a powerful antioxidant, selenium reduces DNA damage as well as oxidative stress, Increase the immune system and destroy cancer cells.

A study was carried out with 3,50,000 above people demonstrated that high blood level of selenium protected against certain types of cancers such as breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers.

Some studies also found that supplementing with selenium reduces side effects in people undergoing radiation therapy. Such as one research shows that selenium supplements improved the overall quality of life and decreased radiation-induced diarrhea in women having cervical or uterine cancer.

3. Prevent heart disease

A selenium-rich diet help in keeping our heart healthy because the low level leads to the risk of coronary artery disease.

In more than 25 studies, it was found that around 50% increase in blood selenium levels reduces the coronary disease by 24%.

The main risk factor of heart disease is inflammation and selenium lower the makers of inflammation.

Let us take an example, a study included more than 4,33,000 people coronary heart disease patients showed that taking selenium supplements reduced the levels of the inflammatory marker CRP.

Furthermore, it expands the level of glutathione peroxidase, which is also a powerful antioxidant.

This shows that it helps in lowering the heart disease, inflammation and oxidative stress in our body which are linked to atherosclerosis or generation of plaque in the arteries.

Atherosclerosis, in which there is a build-up of fats, cholesterols and other substances in and out of the artery walls and this led to many health problems such as heart strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease.

So, it is very much important to minimize inflammation and levels of oxidative stress by including selenium-rich foods in our diet.

4. prevention from mental deterioration

Alzheimer’s disease is a dangerous disease in which an individual destroys memory and other important mental functions. Now it is becoming a sixth leading cause of death in the US.

Nowadays the number of Alzheimer’s disease patients are increasing. That’s why finding a way to prevent this disease is important.

The oxidative stress also leads to different neurological orders such as Parkinson’s disease, which is a disorder of the central nervous system, different sclerosis in which immune system eats away all the protecting cover of nerves and Alzheimer’s disease.

Intake of selenium in food, as well as supplements, improves the memory of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

From studies, it was found that one selenium-rich Brazil nut daily, whole grains, beans, fish etc. helps in reducing the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

 5. Improves the Thyroid health

Selenium is the second most mineral affecting thyroid function after iodine. There would be no activation of thyroid hormone without it. Studies had done about thyroid disease and it was found that patients suffering from it, have a lower level of selenium in their body as compared to healthy people.

For the protection of thyroid gland, selenium is an important nutrient. The cells of thyroid create hydrogen peroxide and utilize it to make thyroid hormone. There may be chances of oxidative damage due to these reactions, but it protects the thyroid gland. Without selenium, high iodine leads to the destruction of thyroid gland cells.

Researchers studied that those individuals living in low selenium content areas suffered mostly from Hashimoto’s disease. Because selenium deficiency makes the glutathione peroxidase enzyme less effective. So, for treating Hashimoto’s disease supplementation has been suggested.

Selenium deficiency also leads to celiac disease, which increases the thyroid problems.

6. Increase the immunity

The immune system is considered as a host defence system of our body comprising many biological structures and protects against many diseases.

Selenium is the most vital component for enhancing the immune system and the liver to function their optimum level. Without an adequate amount in our body, our immune system, as well as liver, will remain vulnerable to attack.

Selenium deficient people are more likely to come down with frequent infections and it takes much time to cure also. This happens because it is becoming much easier for viruses to remain inside your body if there is not enough selenium to restrict them. So, selenium referred to as “viral birth control pill” because of its ability to reduce the viral replication.

Selenium deficient people also suffered from fatigue and swollen glands, influenza, eczema, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C. To protect from these problems, go rich in selenium.

7. Decrease symptoms of Asthma

Asthma is a condition in which the airways of an individual become inflamed, narrow, swell and produce extra mucus in the path, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Researches showed that people suffering from chronic asthma may be suffering from selenium deficiency, leads to oxidative stress and decreased glutathione activity.  It is an essential nutrient for the activation of glutathione.

In a recent research, during pregnancy time women with comparatively low blood selenium levels gave birth to infants with a higher incidence of asthma. These conditions suggest that to diminish asthma selenium-rich foods or supplementation is needed.

Another study showed that asthmatic patients having higher levels of selenium blood level had better lung function than those having a lower level.

Risks and side effects of taking selenium :

Side effects

Selenium doesn’t show any side effects at normal doses. Overdose may cause bad breath, fever, nausea as well as liver, kidney and heart problems. The very high level also leads to death.


It can interact with other medications and supplements such as antacids, chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids, niacin, cholesterol, and birth control pills.

Skin cancer

Selenium supplements are highly associated with a risk of cancer, so individuals at high risk of skin cancer should not take supplements of it.

Prostate cancer

According to a study held by the National Cancer Institute shows that

Individuals having high concentrations of selenium in their bodies double their risk of aggressive prostate cancer if they take selenium supplements.


One study demonstrated that individuals taking selenium 200 mcg/day were 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Recommended Intake

For adults, the recommended Daily Value (DV) for selenium is 55 mcg/ day.

During pregnancy, a woman should intake 60 mcg/day, and lactating women should intake 70 mcg/day.

Selenium deficiency is very rare to find. It usually takes thousands of years to develop, and it usually occurs in areas having severely low selenium content in the soil.

Many regions in China have low soil selenium content, but people having deficiency have been removed through supplementation programs.

Its supplements are available in the medical stores, but it is advised to obtain any vitamin or mineral through food.

It is not the only vitamin or mineral alone that make certain foods an essential part of our diet, but it is the way the nutrients work together to provide us with a healthy life.

Providing a specific nutrient in supplement form does not necessarily provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from a whole food.

That’s why the daily requirements of any nutrient should first come from food.

Foods rich in selenium

Selenium is present mostly in whole grains and animal products rather than green veggies or fruits.

The following are rich in selenium

  Brazil nuts: 1 ounce of nuts provides 544 micrograms (mcg), or 777 percent of the daily recommended value (DV)

  •    Tuna: 3 ounces of yellowfin tuna, if cooked dry, it contains 92 mcg or 131 percent of DV
  •    Halibut, baked: 3 ounces, if cooked dry, it contains 47 mcg or 68 percent       of DV
  •    Brown rice, cooked: 1 cup contains approximately 19 mcg
  •    Egg: One large egg contains about 15 mcg
  •    Bread, white: 1 slice provides almost 10 mcg

The amount of selenium contents present in grains and grain-based foods depends on the soil content where the grains grew.

Precautions Selenium Side Effects

Selenium does not have any negative side effects if taken at normal doses. Should not take an overdose. The overdose can cause various reactions such as bad breath, fever, nausea, liver complications, kidney and heart problems.

A normal dose doesn’t harm but the too much high level can generate selenium poisoning or toxicity, and this can lead to heart attack and respiratory (lung) depression.

The National Toxicology Program held in the US, list out some types of selenium, work as poison, but there is no proof that all the types of selenium are harmful, but this can occur serious risk in everyday situations.

Selenium may also present with other supplements or medicines, such as antacids, chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids, niacin, statin drugs used to lower cholesterol level in the body and many birth control pills. If you are planning to take these medications, then first consult with your doctor before supplementing with these medications.

The final quote

•  Selenium is considered an essential trace element of our body. It is found in the soil that appears in some foods and also available in water.

•  There are many benefits such as defending against oxidative stress, heart disease, and cancer, boosting immunity power, regulating thyroid function, increasing longevity, decreasing asthma symptoms and boosting fertility.

•  The best foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, liver, fish, chicken breast, chia seeds, and mushrooms.

• It works as an antioxidant in our body and prevents from cell damage from free radicals. Like this, it is acting as a protective shield or safeguard for our body.

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