Selenium is a mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. We need trace amounts for normal health, and selenium is an essential element in several metabolic pathways. It also has antioxidant properties that help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. One of its most valuable roles is as a cofactor of glutathione peroxidase, an important antioxidant enzyme. Selenium also helps support a strong immune system, regulates thyroid function, and may help reduce the risk of prostate and secondary cancers. It also plays a role in the prevention of cataracts and heart disease.
Plasma and serum contains 75 percent of the selenium measured in whole blood and reflects recent dietary intake.
Erythrocytes are heavily loaded with protective selenium enzymes. Measuring erythrocyte selenium content is the best way to check selenium status. Functioning synergistically with vitamin E, selenium protects against cellular damage from oxygen radicals. Thyroid hormone activation relies on the presence of sufficient selenium. Optimal serum selenium concentrations are also associated with lower depressive symptoms and negative mood among young adults.
- In a selenium-deficient state, oxidation of metallothionein may lead to the uncontrolled release of metals, especially copper and cadmium, thereby contributing to toxicity.
- Low serum selenium is associated with increased risk for thyroid cancer.
Selenium deficiency affects most physiologic systems, including endocrine and reproductive, hepatic, cardiovascular, immunological, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal.
Indications of deficiency:
Compromised immunity, male & female reproductive health, inflammation regulation in asthma and thyroid hormone metabolism.
High blood levels of selenium can result in selenosis, with gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, white spots on nails, fatigue, and irritability.
- Higher serum selenium levels may be associated with increased mortality.
- At higher levels, the health benefits of selenium intake are unclear.
Garlic, onions, broccoli, Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast.
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