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Selenium Benefits to Your Health

Updated on July 18, 2011

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.

Selenium Benefits to Your Health Comments

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    • profile image

      Student 6 years ago

      Thanks for this wonderful hub!! :D It was great and helped me with a lot of information for a school project!! Thanks again I'll be sure to get an A++!!

    • LeonJane profile image

      LeonJane 7 years ago from Australia

      I didn't know about selenium or its benifits before reading your hub. If it is in brewers yeast than am I getting healthier by drinking beer? probably not, thanks for an informative hub.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      Great info. I get my dosage for sure since i eat all of those foods

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 7 years ago

      Great information thanks for sharing.

    • Michael Jay profile image

      Michael Jay 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this hub! This is a very informative hub and I enjoyed reading it. Great hub, Angela!