Selenium Benefits to Your Health
Selenium benefits are promising in the health industry. Some people's health would probably benefit with added selenium supplementation in their diets, be it with selenium food sources or as selenium supplements.
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What Is Selenium?
So, what is selenium, anyway? Selenium is a natural element found in the soil, water, and certain foods. Small amounts of selenium are needed by the human body for optimal cell functions, enzyme activity, and for proper functioning of the thyroid.
Possible Selenium Benefits to Your Health
There are many possible health benefits of selenium.
As mentioned, selenium is important for proper thyroid function. Selenium may repress Hashimoto's disease, a thyroid autoimmune condition. It may also be helpful for other thyroid conditions, such as Grave's disease, goiter, and thyroiditis.
There may be a connection with selenium deficiency and HIV and AIDS. Areas with low levels of selenium in the soil have higher rates of HIV and AIDS infections. Low levels of selenium weaken the immune system and selenium levels continually decline in AIDS patients.
Other selenium benefits may include protection from heavy metal toxicity in the body, reduces asthma symptoms, lower blood pressure, eczema and psoriasis relief, effective against respiratory infections, helps prevent dandruff, and it may help prevent tuberculosis.
Selenium Deficiency Prostate Cancer Link
The most exciting possible health benefit is the selenium cancer connection. Some cancers may be the result of a selenium deficiency in the body. Selenium prostate cancer studies in particular seem promising.
The study noted that selenium increased the risk of certain skin cancers. Other cancers that are possible linked with selenium deficiency are stomach, lung, colon, and ovarian cancer. Selenium supplements seem to be more effective with men than with women in preventing cancer.
Selenium - Cancer Fighter in Other Ways
Selenium is also thought to be a powerful antioxidant against carcinogens, which could help prevent some cancers. It may also be effective at inhibiting tumors, especially when combined with vitamin E supplements.
Another selenium cancer effect is that it may improve the success of chemotherapy treatments by lessening the toxic effects and helping the body to accept the drugs more easily. Selenium supplementation may also make the chemotherapy drugs more effective at killing cancer cells as well. Selenium cancer chemotherapy studies are showing mixed results.
Wheat Germ As a Selenium Food Source
Selenium Foods for Natural Selenium Sources
Selenium foods include mushrooms, organ meats, garlic, onions, nuts, sunflower seeds, eggs, seafood, butter, some seaweed, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ. The Brazil nut is the best selenium food source.
Warning: Selenium Toxicity With Selenium Supplements
Care should be taken when supplementing with selenium. Although it has huge health benefits, selenium can be toxic, even lethal, if taken in high doses. The recommended highest amount of selenium dosage to take safely is 400 micrograms daily to avoid selenium toxicity. The US RDA for selenium supplements for adults is 80-200 micrograms a day.
Selenium toxicity can cause gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, bad breath, lightheadedness, sore muscles, rash, and exhaustion. More serious complications from selenium toxicity include liver damage, kidney damage, heart damage, thyroid disorders, or death.
Since selenium is potentially fatal even in small doses, be sure to keep any selenium supplements away from children's reach. Selenium supplements should be avoided while pregnant or breastfeeding. And please speak to your oncologist or doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are on any prescription medications.