Selenium- Why you can’t afford to ignore it  

Selenium is a vital element responsible for functioning of various enzymes and proteins that normally exists in our body. It plays a supporting role to them for their maximum effectiveness. It is evident that the quantity of Selenium should be balanced in diet, anything excess or low could lead to an irreversible damage.

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Some good source of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Shellfish like mussels, oysters, clams, scallops
  • Meat (liver, lamb, pork, beef)
  • Poultry ( Eggs, chicken, turkey)
  • Onions
  • Fish (Tuna, halibut, sardines, flounder)

Standard intake of Selenium in diet

  • Children – 30-40 mcg/day
  • Adult – 55 mcg/day

Factors responsible for low Selenium in the body

  • Medication like aspirin can reduce the absorption of selenium in the body
  • Individual going through kidney dialysis or hemodialysis may have low quantity of selenium in their body
  • Individual having chronic disease like HIV will also have a low proportion of Selenium in their body

Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency is observed in areas where soil content of this mineral is low and diets are high in refined foods.  Some of the symptoms of Selenium Deficiency includes
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  • Hair loss and fingernail discoloration

Selenium helps to secrete a special protein that is responsible for the growth of hair. Likewise, it also have a vital role in building of finger nails. So deficiency of selenium can be easily figure out from the fingernail discoloration and hair loss.

  • Compromised Immunity

With less intake of selenium, there is a chance that an individual will have a low immunity power. Some selenium-dependent anti-oxidant are responsible for providing immunity to our body, in the absence of this selenium, anti-oxidant cannot perform well resulting in compromised immunity

  • Hypothyroidism

The highest proportion of selenium is found in kidney, liver and thyroid gland.  Thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormone. Eventually, any change in this hormone, will affect the metabolic rate of an individual and that will reflect on their body mass. The individual having hypothyroidism will look fatigue, depressed and overweight

  • Constant Tiredness

One of the clear indication of selenium deficiency is constant tiredness.  Beside hypothyroidism, that bring tiredness, there are other factors that cause loss of energy and lethargy in selenium deficient individual like inadequate absorption of vitamin and minerals

  • Keshan’s disease

This disease was most prevalent in China during the end of 19th century.  In this condition, the patient will suffer from heart problems due to weakening of heart muscles and selenium is considered as the key component in proper functioning of this muscles.

  • Lack of concentration

Another classic symptoms of selenium deficiency in an individual is lack of concentration.  It is believed that Selenium influence the hormonal activity in the brain.  This might be the reason why the selenium deficit people might face the problem in concentrating or recalling something.  To deal with such problem people sometimes prefer selenium supplements

  • Reproductive Problems

Lack of Selenium in female may cause reoccurring miscarriages. Some studies suggest that lack of selenium in women’s diet may cause a change in menstruation for women affecting their reproductive efficiency.  For male, a deficiency in male can harm sperm motility and therefore reducing male fertility

  • Bones and Joints problem

There is no direct relation of selenium with weakening bones or pain in joints. However, the area having little amount of selenium in soil are at higher risk of osteoarthritis and joint problems

  • Viral infection

If any normal individual fall sick to viral infection often then it may possible that it lacks the selenium in its diet

  • Muscle pain and weakness

It is not necessary that selenium deficiency could be the only reason for muscle pain and weakness. However, you cannot completely ignore its significance.

  • Asthma

Asthma could be another symptom for selenium deficiency. People having asthma has been observed with low quantity of selenium, and may contribute to the incidence of asthma.

Health benefits of Selenium

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  • Fighting Cancer

Selenium has an efficiency to reduce toxic metal and other problems that lead to cancer.  Many studies have proved that selenium can also cure certain degree of cancer.

  • Prevents mal-absorption

Selenium supplements can help in improving digestion and reduce the event of mal-absorption.

  • Lower risk of heart-problems

It can cure heart-problems and increases the anti-oxidant to fight heart condition like Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)

  • Helps to deal with speech disorder

Symptoms due to intracranial pressure like speech disorder, headache, vertigo, nausea, etc. can be avoided or cured by the increasing intake of selenium in the diet

  • Fight Thyroid disease

Increase intake of Selenium can’t improve the impaired thyroid disease, but regular intake can prevent thyroid disease to progress

Caution:

Selenium could show some toxic effect if it consumed in excess or in an uncontrolled manner. The severity of selenium includes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, nerve damage, unconsciousness, and death.  So, always take selenium under physician’s guideline.

Stop taking selenium supplement prior to any surgery as it may increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery, stop taking it at least two week before the surgery.

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About the author

    Dorothy Gusmus

    Hi, I am Dorothy Gusmus. Chief editor at HealthUnify.