Selenium Sources and Functions
All of the nutrient minerals work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of selenium, a trace mineral, in your good health.
|What it does||Functions in antioxidant activity;Activation of thyroid hormone|
|Daily needs||[Infants: 15-20 µg] [Children: 20-55 µg] [Men: 55 µg] [Women: 55 µg] [Pregnant: 60 µg] [Lactating: 70µg]]|
|Not enough||Severe deficiency may lead to heart disease|
|Too Much||Skin problems including rash; hair loss; irritability; bad breath|
|Foods||Organ meats, seafood, meat, grains, Brazil nuts, vegetables and fruits|
*The lower value is for infants up to 6 mos., higher value is for infants up to a year old.
† The first value is for children 1-3 with the amount increasing until age 18.
Just a trace
Note that the adequate daily intake of selenium is given in micrograms (µg). A microgram is .0001 milligrams (mg), so it is a very small amount. Only a trace of this mineral is needed, but it is nevertheless very necessary to your good health.
Selenium functions in your body as an antioxidant mineral that helps protect you from the damaging effects of free radicals, by helping to block the formation of these unstable and highly reactive molecules. In addition, selenium forms part of the enzyme that activates the thyroid hormone.
Deficiency is rare
Most people get enough selenium, and when deficiency does occur, it is generally associated with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease or with poor or restricted diets. Since selenium is found in the soil, the selenium content of fruits and vegetables varies based on the amount of selenium in the soil.
Can be Toxic
Too much selenium in your diet can be toxic. If you choose to take selenium supplements, be aware of the dose and consider carefully whether it is necessary, since most people in developed countries get more than the recommended daily amount of selenium in their diet. Selenium toxicity is unlikely to occur when the only source is food.
Research has shown that selenium deficiency is linked with heart disease. However, there is no evidence that taking excessive amounts of selenium will help your heart. Instead, eating a diet that contains fresh, whole foods will provide the selenium your body needs to maintain good heart health.
There is also evidence that getting enough selenium in your diet will help prevent cancer. This is most likely due to its antioxidant activity. Selenium is also necessary for healthy immune function.
The upper intake level for adults for selenium has been established at 400 µg per day.