What is selenium?
Selenium is a mineral found in soil. It occurs naturally in water and some foods. Although people only need very small amounts of selenium, selenium plays a key role in the body's metabolism.
Selenium has attracted attention for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by environmental conditions such as aging, lifestyle choices and pollution. Over time, this cellular damage is linked to cancer, heart disease, and decreased mental skills.
Selenium supports many functions in your body, including:
Thyroid health. The thyroid is a small gland that produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolic processes. If you have an underactive thyroid, you may experience fatigue, weight gain, depression, and muscle pain. Over time, thyroid risks can worsen chronic conditions.
Selenium helps maintain healthy thyroid function. But research shows that too much can damage your thyroid.
Cognitive support. Research shows that selenium’s antioxidant properties can combat cell damage that may worsen brain and nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Research is ongoing to determine whether selenium can help prevent or treat the loss of mental skills. But scientists believe eating enough can help maintain healthy brain function.
Selenium has also been studied to treat dozens of other conditions. They range from asthma to arthritis to prostate cancer to infertility. The results of these studies are inconclusive.
How much selenium should you take?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) includes the total amount of selenium you should get from food and any supplements you take. Most people can get the recommended daily amount of selenium from food.
The safe upper limit of selenium for adults is 400 micrograms per day. Anything above this is considered an overdose.
Recommended dietary intake
|Children 1-3 years old
|Children 4-8 years old
|Children 9-13 years old
|Adults and children over 14 years old
The amount of selenium in a food depends largely on the soil conditions in which the food is grown.
Good food sources of selenium include:
1. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are the most potent source of selenium. But portion control is important. Just one nut contains 95 micrograms, nearly twice your daily requirement. Doctors recommend no more than 400 micrograms of selenium per day to avoid potential health risks.
Most seafood contains large amounts of selenium. White fish such as yellowfin tuna and halibut contain about 92 micrograms of the mineral per 3-ounce serving, while the same serving of canned sardines has 45 micrograms.
Meat is an excellent source of many essential nutrients, including selenium. The selenium content of fried chicken breast is as high as 35 micrograms, and if you eat the skin, you can get an additional 5 micrograms of selenium. Lean beef varieties are also a good choice. A 4-ounce serving of skirt steak contains 26 micrograms of selenium.
Pasta is an easy way to add selenium to most diets. A cup of cooked pasta contains 36 micrograms, while whole-wheat varieties contain up to 50 micrograms.
Since most rice is gluten-free, it may be a good choice for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease. One cup of cooked white rice contains 9 micrograms of selenium. But you can get about 15 micrograms from a cup of brown rice.
Large eggs provide about 28% of your daily selenium needs. Most are found in egg yolks. If you're watching your cholesterol intake, egg whites also contain about 9 micrograms of selenium.
Whether you make it a breakfast bowl, use it to thicken smoothies, or use it to replace flour in baked goods, oatmeal is an excellent source of selenium. A cup of ready-to-eat oatmeal contains 10 micrograms of selenium, while raw oats have up to 23 micrograms.
8. Baked beans
Baked beans (including vegetarian products) contain approximately 12 micrograms of selenium per cup. Beans are also a great source of fiber, but canned beans contain a lot of sodium. Eat in moderation to avoid the health risks of a high-sodium diet.
What are the risks of taking selenium?
Our bodies need selenium to function properly, but there are risks to adding more selenium to your diet, including:
- side effect. When taken in normal doses, selenium usually does not cause side effects. Overdose of selenium may cause bad breath, hair loss, fever, fatigue and nausea < ai=5 >.
- interaction. Selenium may also interact with other medications and supplements you take, such as some antacids, chemotherapy birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering statins and niacin medications, corticosteroids,
- skin cancer . Selenium supplements may be associated with the risk of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma), so people at high risk for skin cancer should not take these supplements.
A little bit of selenium is usually enough to meet your daily needs. In the long term, regularly reaching unsafe levels can lead to selenium toxicity, a condition linked to respiratory problems, kidney failure and heart problems. At high enough levels, selenium toxicity can even be fatal.
Selenium deficiency is rare among healthy people in the United States. But certain health conditions - such as HIV or Crohn's disease - put you at higher risk for low selenium levels. People who are fed intravenously are also at risk for selenium deficiency.
Symptoms of selenium deficiency include:
- along with
Selenium deficiency may cause:
- Male infertility and male birth-specified infertility
- Keshan disease (a type of heart disease)
- Kashin-Beck disease (a type of arthritis).
If you are deficient in selenium, your doctor may recommend taking a selenium supplement.
These supplements usually come in capsule or tablet form. But whole foods are the best sources of selenium, as this mineral can be destroyed during processing. Unless your doctor tells you to take a supplement, get your selenium from food to avoid getting too much.