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Home :: Selenium

Selenium - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

What is Selenium?

Selenium's principal function is to inhibit the oxidation of lipids (fats) as a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. It is a vital antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. It protects the immune system by preventing the formation of free radicals that can damage the body. Selenium plays a vital role in regulating the effects of thyroid hormone on fat metabolism. It has also been found to function as a preventive against the formation of certain types of tumors. One study found that men who took 200 micrograms of selenium daily over a ten-year period had roughly half the risk of developing lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer as compared with men who did not.

Selenium and vitamin E act synergistically to aid in the production of antibodies and to help maintain a healthy heart and liver. This trace element is needed for pancreatic function and tissue elasticity. When combined with vitamin E and zinc, it may also provide relief from an enlarged prostate. Selenium supplementation has been found to protect the liver in people with alcoholic cirrhosis. Studies conducted at the University of Miami indicate that taking supplemental selenium may enhance the survival of people with AIDS by increasing both red and white blood cell counts. It has shown promise in the treatment of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, male infertility, cataracts, AIDS, and high blood pressure

Uses and Benefits of Selenium

Selenium works as an antioxidant with glutathione peroxidase to prevent damage by free radicals. It's involved in the metabolism of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) which are used by the body in various ways. Selenium detoxifies toxic metals present in the body like arsenic and mercury. Selenium promotes the formation of antibodies and can help prevent infection. It also helps prevent the absorption of metals such as mercury, silver and thallium and may protect against prostate cancer. It may help reduce pain and stiffness of arthritis through its anti-inflammatory properties.

Recommended Dosage of Selenium

The Recommended Dosage for Selenium are :-

  • Men - 70 mcg.
  • Women - 55 mcg.

Deficiency Symptoms of Selenium.

Selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease. It has also been associated with exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency, and sterility. Symptoms of excessively high selenium levels can include arthritis, brittle nails, garlicky breath odor, gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, irritability, liver and kidney impairment, a metallic taste in the mouth, pallor, skin eruptions, tooth loss, and yellowish skin. Unless your health care provider prescribes it, do not take more than 400 micro­grams daily.

Rich Food Sources of Potassium

Selenium can be found in meat and grains, depending on the selenium content of the soil where the food is raised. Because New Zealand soils are low in selenium, cattle and sheep raised there have suffered a breakdown of muscle tissue, including the heart muscle. However, human intake of selenium there is adequate because of imported Australian wheat. The soil of much American farm land is low in selenium, resulting in selenium-deficient produce.

Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, dairy products, dulse, garlic, kelp, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, torula yeast, tuna, vegetables, wheat germ, and whole grains. Herbs that contain selenium include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginseng, hawthorn berry, hops, horsetail, lemon­grass, milk thistle, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, uva ursi, yarrow, and yellow dock.

Cautions and side effects of Potassium

Taking up to 200 micrograms of selenium per day is considered safe for most people. However, you should not take more than 40 micrograms of supplemental selenium daily if you are pregnant. More than 600 mcg can be toxic in adults, and much less in infants. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, sour-milk breath, tooth decay and hair loss.

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