Selenium

 

What is it?

Selenium is an important trace mineral (needed only in miniscule or trace quantities) that is often missing from food grown in depleted soils.

What does it do?

  • The body has its own antioxidant called glutathione peroxidase which helps to protect cells and in particular cell membranes from the ravages of free radicals (see box). Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase.
  • Selenium also seems to exert an antioxidant effect itself. It functions synergistically with the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. This cumulative antioxidant load offers protection against cancers, helps to calm inflammation and protects against cellular degeneration associated with ageing.
  • Glutathione Peroxidase plays a role in immunity; it is involved with the hormone production of the thymus and the development of white blood cells.

Deficiency Symptoms

  • Family history of cancer
  • Signs of premature ageing
  • Cataracts
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent infections

Interactions

Works with the antioxidant trio, vitamins A, C and E. Lost in refining process of grains, in some parts of the world (Europe, US, Australia and New Zealand) the soil has very low levels of selenium and therefore crops grown on the soil are also very low in selenium.

Recommended Daily Amount (RDA)

Children 30µg
Adults 70µg

Therapeutic amounts are generally considered to be higher than RDAs. However high doses should always be considered in conjunction with a healthcare practitioner.

Food Sources

Brazil nuts, wholegrains & cereals (unless grown in selenium deficient soils), egg yolk, offal meats (e.g. kidney and liver), tuna fish, oysters, garlic and yeast.

Safety Considerations

No toxicity under 750mg

 

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