Though you may have never heard of the micronutrient selenium, it is vital to your health. It is an essential trace mineral that plays a critical role in important processes in your body, including your metabolism and thyroid function and helps protect your body from damage caused by oxidative stress. This is according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
What’s more, selenium may help boost your immune system, improve fertility, slow age-related mental decline, and even reduce your risk of heart disease.
Selenium can be found in a wide variety of foods, including Brazil nuts, seafood and meat but the amount of selenium in these food sources depends on the concentration of the soil and water where it grew. People can also add the mineral to foods or consume it as a supplement.
Keep reading to find out the key science-backed benefits of selenium:
ACTS AS A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT
- Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that fights oxidative stress and helps defend your body from chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as premature aging and the risk of stroke. Oxidative stress is caused by an excess of free radicals in the body, Smoking, alcohol use, and stress can cause an excess of free radicals. This leads to oxidative stress, which damages healthy cells. Antioxidants like selenium help reduce oxidative stress by keeping free radical numbers in check to lessen your risk of the aforementioned diseases. They work by neutralizing excess free radicals and protecting cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
DECREASES CANCER RISK
- Higher blood levels of selenium may protect against certain cancers, while supplementing with selenium may help improve quality of life in people undergoing radiation therapy. A review of 69 studies that included over 350,000 people, found that having a high blood level of selenium was associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Another review of 16 clinical studies on selenium and radiotherapy, which included 1303 cancer patients, concluded that Selenium supplements improved the general condition of patients, improved quality of life, prevented or reduced the side effects of radiotherapy and did not reduce the effectiveness of radiotherapy or cause any toxicity.
PROMOTES BETTER CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH AND PROTECTS AGAINST HEART DISEASE
- Selenium may help keep your heart healthy by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in your body. Oxidative stress and inflammation have been linked to atherosclerosis, or the build-up of plaque in arteries. Atherosclerosis can lead to dangerous health problems like strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease. In an analysis of 25 observational studies, a 50% increase in blood selenium levels was associated with a 24% reduction in the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, a review of 16 controlled studies – involving more than 400,000 people with heart disease –showed that taking selenium supplements decreased levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) — one of the main risk factors for heart disease.
HELPS PREVENT MENTAL DECLINE
- A diet rich in selenium may help prevent mental decline and improve memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease (it’s worth noting that in the UK, the 2nd leading cause of death in 2020, after COVID-19 was Dementia and Alzheimer’s). Oxidative stress is believed to be involved in both the onset and progression of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Several studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have lower blood levels of selenium. Another studyfound that antioxidants in both foods and supplements may improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s.
IMPROVES THYROID FUNCTION
- The fact that there’s more selenium in thyroid tissue than in any other organ in the human body tells you something about the influential role this mineral plays in the proper functioning of your thyroid gland. And a healthy thyroid gland is important, as it regulates your metabolism and controls growth and development. Selenium protects the thyroid gland from oxidative stress and is necessary for thyroid hormone production. Selenium deficiency has been associated with thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which involves the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. Furthermore, a study including over 6,000 people found that low levels of selenium were associated with abnormal thyroid function.
BOOSTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Selenium is crucial for the health and proper functioning of your immune system which keeps your body healthy by identifying and fighting off potential threats. These include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Selenium helps lower oxidative stress in your body, which reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. Studies show that selenium supplements help boost the immune systems of people with influenza, tuberculosis and hepatitis C. On the other hand, deficiency has been shown to harm immune cell function and may lead to a slower immune response. Another study associated selenium deficiency with an increased risk of death and disease progression in people with HIV, while supplements were shown to lead to fewer hospitalizations and an improvement in symptoms for HIV patients.
REDUCES ASTHMA SYMPTOMS
- Due to selenium’s ability to reduce inflammation, some studies suggest that this mineral may help reduce asthma-related symptoms. One study showed that asthmatic patients with higher levels of blood selenium had better lung function than those with lower levels. Another study found that giving people with asthma 200 mcg of selenium per day reduced their use of the corticosteroid medications used to control their symptoms.
- Studies have indicated that selenium could be a factor in both male and female fertility, helping to improve semen quality at the same time as lowering the risk of miscarriage.
Whilst selenium is essential for good health, getting too much can be dangerous. The NHS advise that taking 350μg or less a day of selenium supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. Himmense SHIFT contains 220μg of Selenium for an antioxidant and immunity boost.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Consult a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or are taking any other medications before you try any remedies.