Selenium is an antioxidant and trace mineral. It is important in all health fronts, from energy in your body and mind to improving overall good health. It’s usually found in various foods, but as of late, the amount of selenium in those common delicacies has declined.
Why is Selenium so important?
In your body, there are these things called selenoproteins, which form glutathione peroxidase. You may be wondering what those two words are. In essence, glutathione peroxidase help to bring detox and antioxidants into your body and brain. Cellular toxins are changed into harmless byproducts, which make it easy for them to be eliminated. That way, you have protection against many of the hazards out there.
Increasing your glutathione peroxidase levels can even help to prevent cancer, so that’s a plus. Specifically, lung, bladder, prostate, and colorectal cancer risks can be reduced. In addition, it can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because glutathione peroxide reduces blood vessel damage, making it ideal if you have a history of heart disease.
Selenium helps to form those selenoproteins that you need to start this cycle, so that’s why they are important. Of course, these disease have various causes, and selenium is not a miracle cure-all, but it’s still worth adding more to your diet in order to decrease your risk.
But how do you know if you’re low on selenium?
There are six ways that indicate that you may be selenium deficient.
1. Losing Your Hair and Having Fingernail Discoloration
If you’re genetically predisposed for hair loss, you shouldn’t panic just yet. However, if you’re losing your hair quickly, and in a way that is evenly distributed, it may be a sign that it’s not just genetics, but selenium deficiency. This can even affect your underarm and body hair if your levels are too low. On the flip side, too much selenium can cause the same effects, so beware.
If your fingernails are extremely white on the beds, this may be a sign of low selenium intake as well.
2. Low Immunity
If you’re getting colds and not being able to fight them off as fast as you should, it may be because you have low selenium. This can lead to poor immunity. After all, you need selenium for antioxidants, so it helps to boost your immune system.
3. Chronic Fatigue
Tiredness is caused by many factors. There are plenty of minerals you could be low in that would cause it. You may have an iron deficiency, or need more vitamin B. Selenium can cause fatigue as well if you’re not getting enough. If you’re constantly tired, you may want to get tested and see what you’re low in.
4. Poor Concentration
If you are having trouble remembering things, concentrating, or just feel like your brain is filled with fog, it may be because you don’t have enough selenium. Speaking of mental issues, a good amount of selenium can help with anxiety, depression, and mental fatigue, so that’s a plus.
5. Poor Reproduction
Having low levels of selenium can cause many problems in reproduction. It can increase the chances of women having miscarriages, and can affect menstruation as well. If you’re a man, it can affect your reproduction as well. Having a deficiency in selenium can lower your sperm’s motility, decreasing the chances of impregnation. For some men who don’t want children, this sounds like a plus, but there’s much better ways of birth control out there than a selenium deficiency.
If you have a selenium deficiency for too long, it can lead to hypothyroidism. What is that? It’s a condition where your thyroid doesn’t produce the ideal amount of hormones. You can gain weight, feel depressed, and be fatigued because of it. It’s a serious health disorder, so you don’t want to get to that level.
How Much Selenium Should You Have?
With all those problems, you may be wondering how much you should consume to avoid potential health risks? Well, the world isn’t certain. In the UK, it’s 75 mcg for men and 60 mcg for women. In the US, meanwhile, it’s 55 mcg for all adults.
However, it’s recommended that you do get a little more than the USA amount. However, just like anything, it can be toxic at a high enough dose. About 40 times the recommended American intake is said to be toxic, but a good rule of thumb is to never consume more than 400 mcg.
It looks likely that there a significant health benefits in getting more than just the bare minimum amount of selenium set by the USA RDA. Keep in mind though that selenium can be toxic at extremely high intakes.
Foods with Selenium
So which foods should you consume? Seafood contains a good amount of it. Shrimp, salmon, sardines, and tuna are all great sources of selenium. For the meats, try eating more free-range turkey and chicken, grass-fed beef, and pastured eggs. Barely, oats, brown rice, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, asparagus, and spinach are great sources as well, remember to buy organic when you can.
Another good source of selenium is Brazil nuts. They contain the most selenium out of all the foods, containing anywhere from 50-100 mcg per nut. Eating two a day can be your own natural supplement. Just don’t eat too much. If you’re prone to snacking, you may consume too much.
Overall, selenium is a vital antioxidant, one that everyone needs more of. If you think you’re seeing the signs of a selenium deficiency, check with your doctor. Letting your levels stay too low for too long can have long-term effects. Eat some foods that are rich in selenium, or take a supplement. And you can always pop a few Brazil nuts too. Soon, you’ll be feeling a lot better, having more energy and improved mental capabilities. So remember to stay healthy, eat right, and check on your selenium levels. Your body will not regret it.