If you want to live longer and healthier and ward off all types of diseases, get more selenium. Your immune system depends on it.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is highly beneficial to major organs and systems in the body. The body naturally contains this nutrient in small amounts, but it is only replenished by eating certain foods.
Selenium deficiency isn’t very common, but certain medical conditions (such as Crohn’s disease), among other things, can cause it. The average American adult consumes about 108 mcg of selenium per day, while the recommended daily amount is 60-70 mcg.
Diets deficient in selenium can also be the result of low levels of selenium in the soil. Less of the mineral is acquired when eating foods that weren’t grown in selenium-rich soil or consuming meats from animals that didn’t graze on selenium-rich plants.
Northern Nebraska, North and South Dakota have very high levels of selenium in their soils. You also have to know which foods are good sources of selenium. You can get a good dose of the antioxidant-rich mineral by eating more seafood, whole grain, onions, garlic, muscle meats, egg yolks, mushrooms, oatmeal, brown rice and especially Brazil nuts.
Selenium deficiency brings with it a whole host of physical problems, so it is a must for your nutritional health. Selenium deficiency can cause a weakened immune system, increased disease invasion, thyroid (and metabolism) problems, and male infertility.
Too Much Selenium
Trying to compensate for this deficiency by taking selenium supplement pills can be dangerous, since only a little is needed and you can easily overdo it. You should never exceed 350 mcg daily in any form.
Too much selenium can cause significant hair loss, brittle nails, nerve damage, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue and irritability. Consult your doctor to check your selenium levels or if you are considering selenium supplements. The safer option is to eat selenium-rich foods as mentioned.
Selenium has proven effective against heart disease and cancer when one’s intake is significantly increased. The antioxidant power of selenium protects the heart by breaking down the bad LDL cholesterol in the blood, which prevents clogged arteries and allows better blood circulation.
Studies have shown that consuming 200 mcg per day can cut one’s risk for colorectal, lung and prostate cancers in half! Men will be happy to know that selenium is especially effective against prostate cancers.
Selenium works by slowing down or stopping the growth of cancerous tumors. The antioxidants in selenium also defend against arthritis by stopping the progression of free radicals, which destroy healthy cells and cause inflammation. Selenium works with vitamin E to slow the process of aging and diseases associated with it.
Increasing selenium intake has even been shown to extend the survival rate of HIV patients. So though you’re probably not lacking in selenium, it wouldn’t hurt to get more as a preventative measure. Again, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.