Food and DrinkHealth and Fitness

What is selenium used for?

Indispensable for the proper functioning of the body, Selenium is however not very present in French soils. Here’s all you need to know about this antioxidant trace element.

What is that?

Is an essential trace element which who must therefore provide through food. Its presence in soils dictates its concentrations in plant foods. Brazil nuts, seeds, green vegetables, mushrooms are excellent sources of Selenium in areas where the soil contains enough of it (which is not the case in France).

Selenium yeast is also a great source and is used to make bread. Animals that consume mainly plant foods, particularly fish, seafood, beef and poultry, are also good sources of this trace element.

Also Is involved in many metabolic reactions in the body. A deficiency or an overdose can both have harmful effects on health.

What’s the point?

Selenium is involved in the defence against oxidative stress by participating in the production of antioxidants by the body, including glutathione peroxidase.

It also helps regenerate vitamin C and other antioxidants. It is involved in regulating thyroid hormones, the formation of sperm, the fight against inflammation and the maintenance of immunity.

What do the studies say?

We only reviewed studies looking at the effects of non-deficiency selenium supplementation.

Against cancer:

Selenium is still under investigation concerning the effects of supplementation in preventing various cancers and its usefulness as an adjunct to treatment.

Against infections:

Supplements of Selenium appear to boost immunity, even in people who are not lacking in the mineral. They could help fight certain viral infections, prevent certain cancers, and improve the state of health of people infected with HIV.

Against ageing:

Its antioxidant character making it enjoyable against oxidative stress and therefore diseases linked to ageing, has long been considered an “anti-ageing” compound.

However, research in recent years seems more mixed. Thus, according to a 2019 meta-analysis, its effects on ageing are controversial. It is not sure that this trace element is useful against the effects of age and associated diseases.

In practice:

Signs of selenium deficiency are a weakened immune system, heart arrhythmia, muscle weakness, anaemia, depressed mood, anxiety, and confusion. Associated with an iodine deficiency, and it can lead to hypothyroidism.

The most severe form of selenium deficiency is Keshan’s disease, a cardiomyopathy that occurs in parts of the world where soils are deficient in Selenim.
Kashin-Beck disease, a crippling deformity of bones, cartilage and joints, is also associated with selenium deficiency.

There is often a concomitant vitamin E deficiency in many diseases related to selenium deficiency.

Conversely, selenium overdose is responsible for selenosis, which results in intense fatigue, hair loss, and brittle nails. People with selenosis have a characteristic breath (garlic smell) and suffer from digestive problems.

The recommended nutritional allowance is 70 μg per day for healthy adults. However, this level is considered low according to some studies which set the intake at 90 μg per day.

In France, the health authorities recommend not to consume more than 400 micrograms of Selenium per day.

What can recommend supplements for immunocompromised people, people over 60, athletes whose oxidative stress is increased by exercise and of course deficient people?

As a supplement, Selenium is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with goitre and in men of an age to develop prostate cancer.

Who can supply Selenium in different forms: selenite, selenate, selenocysteine, selenomethionine. Selenomethionine is the main form found in food.

The usual dose as a nutritional supplement is 25 μg / day for a man and 15 to 20 μg / day for a woman. In case of immune, viral or cancerous disease, higher doses of Selenium, 200 to 400 μg / day, maybe useful, with medical supervision.
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Risks of underdosing and overdosing of selenium:

The risks of selenium deficiency.

The essentiality was discovered with Keshan’s disease, a form of heart failure linked to this trace element’s deficiency. This cardiomyopathy can lead to death in the absence of selenium supplementation.

More common than deficiency, selenium deficiency may be due to an insufficient intake, especially in a vegan diet or poor assimilation following a small intestine disease (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc.).

It can result in cardiac arrhythmia, reduced resistance to infections, muscle weakness, anaemia, arthritis manifestations. Associated with an iodine deficit, it can lead to hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormones).

The risks in case of excess selenium
Chronic excess selenium induces selenosis, which results in skin lesions, hair and nail loss, digestive disturbances, fatigue, irritability, characteristic garlic-smelling breath and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Excess selenium may be linked to excessive supplementation or in some areas, to the ingestion of drinking water rich in this trace element.
In France, the selenium content in tap water is limited to 10 µg per litre.

The French experts set the safety limit dose at 150 µg per day, and all intakes included, food, drinking water, even food supplements. It is higher in other countries, for example by 400 µg in the United States.
Also read: Meal Replacement Tips for Healthier Eating.
Weight Loss Diets: How To Make Them Work.

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