Selenium: Function, Benefits

What is Selenium: Function, Benefits, Foods To Eat & More

Selenium, often referred to as nature’s guardian angel, is a trace mineral that is crucial for human health.

Though required in small amounts, its impact is immense, playing a vital role in various bodily functions.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from trace minerals, it’s that most of us aren’t getting the necessary intake, resulting in ongoing mineral deficiencies.

Let’s dive into what selenium is and why it’s important to maintain a healthy intake of this vital trace mineral. 

What the Heck is Selenium?

Selenium is one of the nine essential trace minerals, meaning that it is needed in even smaller amounts than our major minerals.

Most selenium in the body is stored in muscle tissue, while the thyroid gland holds the highest concentration of selenium due to various selenoproteins that assist with thyroid function.

It plays a vital role within our body with its set of enzymes and proteins – called selenoproteins – that help make DNA and protect us from cell damage and infections. 

Ultimate Thyroid Health

Selenium: Function, Benefits

One of the pivotal roles that selenium plays is in thyroid health. It's the unsung hero, working alongside iodine to ensure optimal thyroid function.

It is responsible for the conversion of thyroid hormones (T4 to T3), as deiodinase enzymes are selenium-dependent.

Essentially, this means that selenium is crucial in assisting these deiodinase enzymes in changing the T4 hormone to T3.

Maintaining thyroid hormones are instrumental in maintaining metabolic balance, energy levels, and even overall mood. 

If the body does not have enough selenium, it can lead to autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease.

Both conditions lead the body to create antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, resulting in an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

Thankfully, one scientific study found that selenium supplementation positively helped treat autoimmune thyroid conditions, reducing overall inflammation.

This is a positive and promising correlation that selenium is a vital micronutrient in managing optimal thyroid function within our bodies. 

Immunity Amplification

Immunity Amplification

Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant, bolstering the immune system's defenses against oxidative stress and harmful pathogens.

Its presence stimulates the production of enzymes that neutralize free radicals, reducing inflammation and fortifying the body's natural defenses.

Specifically, it helps produce the vital antioxidant, glutathione, and together the two provide detoxification within the liver, repair DNA, support mitochondrial function, and maintain healthy levels of Vitamin C and E.

Scientific studies have shown that animals deficient in selenium were more prone to infectious diseases.

When the animals with a selenium deficiency were exposed and sick with the flu virus, the virus was able to mutate and get stronger compared to the animals with a healthy level of selenium. 

Cancer-Free With Selenium

Cancer-Free With Selenium

Selenium doesn’t just assist in maintaining optimal thyroid health.

According to several studies, selenium effectively reduces the risk of cancer, specifically in the liver, prostate, colo-rectal, and lungs.

Specifically, a scientific study showed a 31% reduced risk of cancer and 45% reduced risk of death from cancer in people with high selenium intakes and blood levels. 

Additionally, there is evidence that points to selenium’s role in slowing down existing cancer progression and tumor growth as well as those with healthy levels of selenium in the blood have a decreased risk of developing liver cancer. 

Healthy Heart

Cancer-Free With Selenium

Selenium doesn't stop at the thyroid or liver; it extends its protective embrace to your heart.

It supports cardiovascular health by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol.

This process, if left unchecked, sets the stage for the formation of arterial plaque, a critical precursor to heart disease.

Selenium acts as a formidable defender, reducing the risk of plaque buildup and fortifying the integrity of your arteries.

Additionally, selenoproteins safeguard cell membranes against harm from free radicals and prevent blood platelets from sticking together, which are both factors that can contribute to heart disease.

By thwarting inflammation and regulating blood pressure, selenium creates an environment conducive to optimal cardiac function.  

Selenium Rich Foods

Selenium Rich Foods

Embarking on a journey toward better health often begins with the plate. Tiny but mighty, selenium is a crucial micronutrient that plays an important role for optimal function of our body.  

  • Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts are the crown jewel of selenium-rich foods. Just a couple of these creamy, earthy delights can meet your daily selenium needs. However, moderation is key, as selenium content in these nuts can vary widely.

  • Sunflower Seeds: Tiny but mighty, sunflower seeds are a convenient and tasty way to infuse your diet with selenium. Sprinkle them on salads, blend them into smoothies, or enjoy them as a snack for a dose of this essential mineral.

  • Seafood: Fish like tuna, halibut, and sardines, along with crustaceans like shrimp and crab, are excellent sources of selenium. Just be sure to choose sustainably sourced options for the most holistic benefit.

  • Whole Grains: Incorporate whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread into your meals to introduce a healthy dose of selenium. These grains not only provide essential nutrients but also serve as a versatile base for a wide array of dishes. 

From thyroid support to immune fortification, selenium holds many benefits that are as diverse as they are essential.

As a potent antioxidant, it wards off cellular damage and inflammation, safeguarding the body from chronic diseases.

This trace mineral's harmonious synergy with other nutrients amplifies its impact, ensuring a robust immune system and vital energy production.

Whether in the form of Brazil nuts, seafood, or whole grains, selenium-rich foods offer a delicious and natural path to optimal health.

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