Selenium: Which Foods Are High In It?

Selenium is one of the trace elements that we must supply to our bodies with food. It takes its name from “selene”, the Greek word for moon.

It was not until 1957 that it was recognized that selenium is important for our health and intensive research work began to explore the biological and medical significance of this mineral.

Selenium protects our health

Selenium plays an important role in removing free radicals in the body, it has antioxidant properties and in this way reduces the so-called oxidative stress, to which many harmful influences on our health are attributed. It appears that selenium has anti-cancer effects and protective properties against coronary heart disease, cataracts and rheumatic diseases. It is also important for the detoxification of heavy metals. Our environment and our food are contaminated with heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Selenium is able to largely eliminate these toxins by forming poorly soluble selenides with them. In addition, selenium activates the immune system and protects lipids from oxidation as part of the fat metabolism and is involved in the production of thyroid hormones .

Our organism has stored around 15 to 20 mg of selenium

In selenium-deficient areas such as New Zealand and Finland, the body stores are significantly lower. It only contains 4 to 10 mg selenium there.

In the body, selenium is mainly found in the kidneys , liver, brain and heart as well as in the blood. Bones, muscles and fatty tissue, on the other hand, contain relatively little selenium. In contrast, Americans are not typically undersupplied due to their selenium-rich growing areas.

We need that much selenium

According to the Society for Nutrition, the selenium requirement for adults is 30 to 70 μg per day, for children and adolescents 10 to 60 μg, depending on their age. However, new research suggests that exact individual needs are innate and may vary from person to person.

On average, women take in 30 μg and men 41 μg daily with food.

Also Read: These 5 Local Products Are Just As Healthy As Superfoods!

Diet low in selenium can lead to selenium deficiency

Our selenium supply depends on the soil-plant-animal food chain. If the soil is already low in selenium, for example due to leaching or incorrect fertilization (sulfates compete with selenium for the same absorption mechanisms in the plant), the plants grown on it also contain little selenium. And animals fed with these plants then have even lower selenium concentrations. This can ultimately lead to a reduced supply of selenium in humans.

Other causes of a selenium deficiency can be:

  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol impedes selenium absorption in the body and increases selenium excretion
  • longer one-sided reduction diets, especially fasting cures
  • strict vegan diet
  • Older age
  • With increasing age, the ability to absorb selenium from food decreases.
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • The heavy metals are detoxified by the selenium, but the selenium fixed to the heavy metal is no longer available for the body.

Selenium deficiency can have these consequences

The possible health consequences of insufficient selenium supply include: heart changes (so-called Keshan disease), disorders of muscle function, Kashin-Beck disease (an osteoarthropathy). In addition, selenium deficiency increases the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, cancer , inflammatory joint diseases, cirrhosis of the liver in alcoholics and arteriosclerosis with the consequences of heart attack and stroke .

If you want to supply selenium via dietary supplements

then you should know that the utilization of selenium in the body depends on the type of selenium compound and the composition of the food. The naturally occurring compound selenomethionine, for example contained in selenium yeast, has proven itself. It is considered to be particularly well tolerated.

However, a selective supply of selenium, for example in the form of sodium selenite, is not entirely unproblematic. Because if there is a simultaneous iodine deficiency, the effect of selenium on the thyroid hormones can trigger an underactive thyroid gland. In addition, an overdose, for example if more than 800 μg per day are taken over several weeks, can lead to selenium poisoning. Typical symptoms include garlic breath odor, depression, brittleness and loss of fingernails, hair loss and skin inflammation. However, these symptoms usually resolve after stopping the selenium supplement.

If you suffer from rheumatic diseases and want to take selenium, you should combine it with vitamin E. This mix has proven to be particularly beneficial for these diseases. According to studies, it seems to be sufficient to take an additional 200 µg of selenium every 2-3 days. Do not take too much selenium: higher intakes (“over supplementation”) seem to increase the risk of type II diabetes and prostate cancer (see below).

Too much selenium can be harmful

A study has shown that overdoses of selenium increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, namely the aggressive form. Men in particular should therefore be careful when taking selenium supplements; the daily amount required is normally supplied in sufficient quantities with food.

Do you also take a zinc supplement or vitamin C?

Then you should know that this can impede the absorption of selenium. It is best to take the two preparations at different times, for example two to three hours apart.

These foods contain a lot of…

Meat, fish and chicken eggs are considered particularly rich in selenium, as are lentils and asparagus. The selenium content of the soil plays a decisive role in grain. Grain from our soil is low in selenium in contrast to the imported goods from North America or Canada.

Also Read: Lose Weight By Eating? Here Are Guilt-Free Foods

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