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Selenium: Health benefits, sources and potential risks

Selenium is a mineral found in the soil. Selenium naturally appears in water and some foods. While people only need a very small amount, selenium plays a key role in the metabolism. Selenium is a mineral needed in trace amounts for optimal health. It is a key nutrient for a robust immune system, a youthful appearance, and a sharp mind. It is also an essential nutrient in the fight against cancer.
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What is Selenium?
Selenium is an organic chemical that is mainly derived from soil, water, and plant materials. Obviously, humans mainly acquire it from various plant sources, and since it is required for a number of essential. It is considered a non-metal, and although it is toxic in large quantities, it is necessary for certain cellular functions of animals and people. Therefore, including selenium-rich plant material in your diet is very important for maintaining overall health and wellness.
Selenium exists in two forms: inorganic (selenate and selenite) and organic (selenomethionine and selenocysteine). Both forms can be good dietary sources of selenium. Soils contain inorganic selenites and selenates that plants accumulate and convert to organic forms, mostly selenocysteine and selenomethionine and their methylated derivatives. Most selenium is in the form of selenomethionine in animal and human tissues, where it can be incorporated nonspecifically with the amino acid methionine in body proteins. Skeletal muscle is the major site of selenium storage, accounting for approximately 28% to 46% of the total selenium pool. Both selenocysteine and selenite are reduced to generate hydrogen selenide, which in turn is converted to selenophosphate for selenoprotein biosynthesis.
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Where selenium is found
Selenium is an essential mineral found in varying concentrations in soil. It’s found in foods such as Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and garlic, but the amount in any given food depends on the selenium content of the soil in which it was grown.
Selenium is also found in water and so also occurs in varying quantities in seafood, but despite its relatively common appearance in foods, many people are lacking this important mineral.
Whole foods are the best sources of selenium, especially when these foods are handled and prepared in a delicate way, since selenium may be destroyed during processing and very high heat cooking methods.

Selenium may help prevent cardiovascular disease, thyroid problems, cognitive decline, which means disorders related to thinking, cancer, and others.

Here are just a few ways that selenium benefits your body:

Prevents Cancer
Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, and remains uncured, so any preventative measures that can be taken are always important. Studies have shown that a normal selenium intake can result in a serious decrease in cancerous cell formation, especially in regards to prostate, colorectal, and lung cancers. Selenium is an essential player in various enzymatic reactions that can induce apoptosis, also known as automatic cell death, specifically for dangerous cancer cells, without harming healthy cells. Free radicals, the byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer, damage DNA and mutate it to become a cancer cell.

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Selenium can boost DNA repair and prevent this mutation from occurring. Finally, glutathione superoxidase, an important anti-cancer compound in the body, utilizes selenium for its activity, so significant amounts are needed for those powerful antitumor and anticarcinogenic roles as well. Selenium has its natural anti carcinogenic and it is able to diminish carcinogenic cells. Therefore, selenium performs perfectly to prevent the cancer cells development in our body. Selenium is important for the activity of glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione peroxidase is an enzyme that protects our cells membrane from damage.

Antioxidant
Selenium, collaborate with vitamin E, work as antioxidant for our body to counter free radical that triggers the existence of various type of cancers, heart disease and arthritis.

Boosts Immunity
Studies have shown that selenium is important in the stimulation of antibodies, which are elements of the immune system which can see out and destroy viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoan foreign bodies that can result in diseases and infections. Selenium helps to stimulate these antibodies, particularly after you receive a vaccination for one of these diseases, making your body resilient and experienced in fighting them off so you remain healthy and protected throughout your life.

Relieves Inflammatory Conditions
Apart from boosting your immune system, selenium also protects your body from wearing down and feeling older than it really is. Selenium has been shown to reduce oxidative stress that often occurs around joints and bones, manifesting as inflammation and various inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, sporiasis, lupus, eczema or associated pain and weakness. By reducing the inflammation at these vital hinges of your body, you can remain active, healthy, and pain-free for many years.

Thyroid disorders
Research is now showing, through numerous studies, that there is a link between thyroid metabolism and selenium deficiency. Selenium acts as a catalyst for the production of active thyroid hormones. If you imagine that your body is a manufacturing facility, the your thyroid would be the main boss in charge of regulating the whole operating system, so when the thyroid isn’t working properly, there are many serious, noticeable consequences. The thyroid gland controls numerous important everyday body functions including appetite, sleep, temperature, weight, energy, and more.
Selenium has an important role in producing and metabolizing thyroid hormone. There is some evidence that women with higher selenium levels have fewer thyroid problems, but this has not been proven for men, and other studies have produced mixed results.

Healthy Sperm
Selenium is good for keeping as well as controlling sperm production. It is also useful for increasing our sexual arousal. Selenium is a nutritional substance that influences our sperm quality. Almost a half of selenium in male’s body is kept in testicular and seminal tract. If the selenium intake is not sufficient, the sperm that is produced tend to have less mobility since its tail was not formed well. Those less active sperms make males experience sperm disruption in Teratozoospermia and Asthenozoospermia. Therefore, it is important for male to maintain their nutritious intake.

Controlling Reproduction Process
Selenium is good at keeping and controlling our healthy reproduction process. It is especially beneficial for female who does not have a regular menstrual cycle. Selenium can control the disruption in reproduction system.

Helps Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Observational studies have demonstrated that patients with chronic asthma may have lower levels of selenium. According to studies, when people with asthma took selenium supplements, they experienced less asthma related symptoms than those who took a placebo. Experts think that selenium supplementation may be a useful add-on treatment to medication for patients with chronic asthma.

Selenium Improves Mood
Selenium affects the cells of the nervous system, and, thus, affects mood. Neurotransmitters do not turnover as quickly in Selenium deficient individuals. Low Selenium levels are correlated to depression, anxiety, confusion, and hostility.

Preventing Our Cardiovascular System
Cardiovascular system covers the whole process that involves our heart. One of the most vital parts in our body is heart. We will prevented from various heart problem as long as our cardiovascular system is well preserved. Selenium is considered important in embattled cardiovascular disease because of its antioxidant effect. Even though its ability in curing cardiovascular disease has not been concluded, it is still important to clarify the importance of selenium for our health, especially in a very serious cardiovascular disease in which the patient exposures to the increasing of oxidative stress.

Treats Kashin-Beck Disease
There is a particular heart condition, called Kashin-Beck disease, which affects a wide swath of the population in countries that have low selenium content. This is perhaps the most serious and noticeable effect of a selenium deficiency, and it is characterized by the death of cartilage cells and a retardation of growth, often resulting in osteoarthritis at a young age. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, lack of flexibility, and low range of motion, basically crippling those with severe cases. Selenium deficiency is not the only cause of Kashin-Beck, but it is certainly one of the major causes.

Hard to Concentrate. Selenium is proven for lessening our irritability and mental fatigue. If we do not have enough selenium intake, it will be hard for us to concentrate.


Foods sources
Selenium is most likely to be found in whole grains and animal produce, rather than fresh fruit and vegetables.
Brazil nuts: 1 ounce provides 544 micrograms (mcg), or 777 percent of the daily recommended value (DV)
Tuna: 3 ounces of tuna, cooked dry, contains 92 mcg, or 131 percent of DV
Halibut, baked: 3 ounces, cooked dry, contains 47 mcg, or 68 percent of DV
Brown rice, cooked: 1 cup contains 19 mcg
Egg: One large egg contains 15 mcg
Bread, white: 1 slice provides 10 mcg

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