Selenium is a trace element found in soil, and is required in small amounts to maintain good health. It is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage
our DNA. It is often included with Vitamins C and E to help fight against cancer, heart disease and even aging. It has also been used to fight viral infections and may even slow the progression of AIDS/HIV. Selenium also contributes to good health by promoting normal liver function.
Other benefits of selenium include the protection against heart disease, the protection against toxic minerals, and the neutralisation of alcohol, smoke, and fats. It can help to increase male potency and it also involved in the maintenance of hair, skin and eyes.
What is Selenium Used For
Good Sources of Selenium
Selenium can be found in many of today's foods such as brazil nuts, poultry, seafood, and meats. Oats and brown rice can also provide significant amounts, but this can sometimes depend on the selenium content of the soil in which they have been grown.
You can also get a selenium supplement. The recommended daily allowance is 70mcg for men and 55mcg for women. In order to produce major benefits an amount of up to 600mcg can be taken.
Selenium deficiency is rare, as most people get enough in their daily diets. However, if you were to be deficient symptoms would include muscular weakness and fatigue. Too much selenium on the other hand is possible. If you are taking a selenium supplement you should remember not to exceed 600mcg per day. Overdosing on selenium or selenium poisoning can cause depression, nausea and vomiting, nervousness and loss of hair and fingernails along with a breath odour.
Major Benefits of Selenium
Selenium has been receiving huge attention in recent times due to its role in combating cancer. A five year study has been carried out and it has shown that people taking 200mcg a day there were 63% less prostate tumours, 58% less colorectal cancers, 46% less lung malignancies and a 39% overall decrease in cancer deaths. This study was carried out at Cornell University and the University of Arizona.
In other studies selenium has also shown promise in helping to prevent other cancers such as cancer of the cervix, rectum, ovaries, bladder, oesophagus, pancreas and liver. It is also being tested against leukaemia with the hope of promising results.
With this in mind scientists are on a daily basis continuing to research into the benefits of selenium and how it may indeed be among the answers for curing cancer.
Additionally, selenium can protect the heart, primarily by reducing the "stickiness" of the blood and decreasing the risk of clotting, in turn, lowering the risk of heart attack, and stroke. Moreover, selenium increases the ratio of HDL ("good") cholesterol to LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which is critical for a healthy heart. Smokers or those who've already had a heart attack or stroke may gain the greatest cardiovascular benefits from selenium supplements, though everyone can profit from taking selenium in a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.
Remain In Good Health with the Benefits Of Selenium
Selenium may be useful in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading causes of impaired vision or blindness in older Americans. It is also vital for converting thyroid hormone, which is needed for the proper functioning of every cell in the body, from a less active form (called T4) to its active form (known as T3). In addition, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, assisting the body in defending itself against harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as cancer cells. Its immune-boosting effects may play a role in fighting the herpes virus that is responsible for cold sores and shingles, and it is also being studied for possible effectiveness against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
When combined with vitamin E, selenium appears to have some anti-inflammatory benefits as well. These two nutrients may improve chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and eczema.
Recent studies show that in the test tube selenium works relatively quickly, helping cells grow and die at normal rates and protecting them from becoming cancerous. Experts suspect that selenium's cancer-fighting benefits may be fairly fast-acting in the body as well.
According to the journal Agriculture Research, studies in mice show that a deficiency in either selenium or vitamin E both antioxidants - can convert a latent, inactive virus into its active, disease-causing form. This may help explain why selenium is effective against cold sores and shingles, which are both caused by reactivation of a dormant herpes virus.