Selenium is an essential trace element that can not be produced by the human body, therefore it must be supplied to the organism through our diet.
It works as a great antioxidant that fights free radicals and prevents cellular degeneration.
It activates and stabilises the immune system, promoting a more rapid healing of diseases. Selenium generates antibodies that defend the body from any attack. Clinical studies have shown that selenium inhibits the emergence of tumour cells.
Selenium is essential to the human body: it is involved in cell metabolism, provides energy, helps to prevent the onset of diseases, and protects the body from the damage produced by free radicals.
It is found primarily in muscle, the kidneys and the liver. The total amount of selenium in the human body is approximately 10-15 mg. Selenium levels can be detected with a blood test
It is a basic element of various enzymes
It protects cells from the harmful effects caused by free radicals and UV rays, which can damage cell walls and the genotype. Selenium also blocks oxidative stress and the negative charge of toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.
In addition, it strengthens the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory effects and is involved in the optimal functioning of the thyroid gland.
What food contains selenium?
Selenium is found especially in food products of animal origin, such as meat (particularly liver and kidney), fish, seafood and milk. Selenium-rich vegetable foods include walnuts, brazil nuts and vegetables.
The amount of this mineral provided through the diet varies considerably according to each area or region, so taking selenium supplements is recommended in order to prevent a deficiency in the body.
What symptoms are caused by a selenium deficiency?
The lack of this essential trace element has different effects on the body and can lead to very serious problems.
Selenium deficiency can manifest itself through the following symptoms:
Muscle weakness, difficulty walking
Increased susceptibility to infections, such as colds
Weakness and poor appearance of the hair and nails
Intake and recommended doses of selenium
To ensure the optimum intake that an adult needs to stay healthy, between 30 and 70 microgrammes of selenium should be consumed daily. Since its provision through food can very much depend on each area or specific region, taking dietary supplements to ensure the necessary amount is recommended.
The need for selenium may be higher in certain groups of people, depending on their state of health or the illnesses that they may suffer from. The additional intake of vitamins A, C and E, may enhance the effects of selenium on the organism.
A good method for strengthening the immune system and increasing defences, consists in taking selenium in combination with zinc.
Selenium is available in several forms: selenate, selenocysteine, selenomethionine, ion trimetilselenium, selenoeter, selenobetaine or dimethyl selenide.
Who is selenium important for?
In certain situations or for some people in particular, there may be a greater need to increase selenium levels. Clinical studies have shown that it is an important aid in the treatment of various diseases.
An additional intake of selenium is therefore advised in the following cases:
Pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding
People with a weak immune system
Vegans, that only consume proteins of vegetable origin
Patients with tumours
Men with lazy sperm or asthenozoospermia
Women with heavy menstruation
Patients with diabetes mellitus
People with heart disease
Patients with a chronic intestinal disease
People who have a high alcohol consumption
People who follow an unvaried or unhealthy diet
As protection against oxidative stress
As protection against solar radiation
For people who smoke
Opinion of nutritionists and experts on selenium:
1. It strengthens the immune system
A proper selenium intake, combined with a balanced diet and regular physical exercise, is an important factor for the production of antibodies that the body needs. Selenium fortifies the defences and reduces inflammation, protecting the body from the onset of disease.
2. It prevents cellular degeneration
Clinical studies have shown that it has a positive effect on medication tolerance and radiation therapy used to treat cancer. It also has a preventive effect against the development of cancer, because of the defence it provides against free radicals. In particular, it has been shown that having sufficient levels of selenium significantly reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer.
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