Top 10 Selenium Health Benefits + Toxicity, Sources, Dosage
By Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharm) December 25, 2018.
Selenium is an essential mineral needed for optimal health and longevity. Its intake needs to be just right — too much or too little can have the opposite effects. Healthy levels can balance your immune system, set your circadian rhythm, and support reproductive health, while its role in cancer prevention is still controversial. This article covers all the latest findings and what they mean for your health.What is Selenium?
Selenium (Se) is a mineral found in Brazil nuts, poultry, fish, cereal, and eggs. It was considered a toxin until 1957 when its health benefits started to be discovered. Balanced selenium intake is crucial. Both selenium deficiency and excess are harmful while taking in just the right amount can have wide-ranging health benefits.
The recommended daily allowance (55 µg/day) is based on the amount needed to maximize the activity of the selenium-containing master antioxidant enzyme glutathione. Selenium also binds to the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine and forms antioxidant selenoproteins in the body. Selenoproteins carry selenium to the tissues, reduce inflammation, support a healthy immune system and thyroid gland [R].
Since plants take in selenium from the soil, making selenium intake dependant on its concentration in the surrounding soil. People who live within a wide selenium-poor geographical belt — spanning from northeast to southwest China — are at a greater risk of selenium deficiency.
Deficiency can cause serious health problems, including Keshan disease, an extreme weakening of the heart that can result in heart failure.Intake of selenium is also low in Eastern Europe, while it can exceed the recommended daily amounts in Venezuela, parts of the US, Canada, and Japan. The average person living in the US takes in 107-151 µg/day of selenium from food and supplements, which is 2-3x the official recommended daily allowance (RDA).
However, this “above-optimal” intake has been associated with better overall health. On the other hand, very high blood selenium is associated with diabetes, high short-term (fasting blood glucose) and long-term diabetes markers (HbA1c).
The Selenium Joe Recommends…
A diet rich in the foods above should meet the selenium needs of most people. You can easily get all the selenium you need from just one Brazil nut, but it is best not to eat more than 2 or 3 per day on a regular basis to avoid selenium toxicity.
S&M COMENT: Okay, Steve brought home some brazil nuts today @14.95 per pound these better be good. They are! Only take 2-3 per day. I’ll take two, one in the morning and one in the evening.
They’re a relatively soft nut; you need not worry about chipping a tooth, but the chew lasts a long time because they’re dry – very dry.
I’ll let you know if I think they’re worth it. I like getting my nutrients through food, that I don’t have to eat a ton of to satisfy the daily requirement.