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  Information on  Selenium

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      Why do I need selenium?

       Humans are made from earth, within the soils of the earth are some important nutrients. Selenium is an essential trace element for humans and other animals. Essential trace element is a substance that is required by the body in very small amounts for proper growth and functioning. Usually obtained from the diet, small amounts of selenium are known to be necessary for several human biologic processes, including immune response and thyroid function. Selenium is incorporated into molecules of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPX). This vital enzyme protects red blood cells and cell membranes against undesirable reactions with soluble peroxides. Good selenium nutrition is of key importance for antioxidant defense as well as efficient energy metabolism.

            Selenium is required for the activation of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme is an antioxidant that quenches hydroperoxides, "high energy" oxygen-containing molecules that are produced during the metabolism of fat and that are highly toxic to cells. Recent research showed that selenium could reduce the severity of some cancers. This is thought to be due to selenium inducing "apoptosis" (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.

Selenium is also involved in a healthy immune system and proper thyroid function.

          Where is selenium found?

  • Brazil nuts
  • Yeast
  • Whole grains
  • Seafood

             Do I need selenium?


             Deficiency is rare in Western countries. Soils in some areas are selenium deficient, and people who eat foods grown primarily in those soils are at risk for deficiency. However, in today's supermarket, foods come from far and wide, thus compensating for poor local soil conditions.

    What causes Selenium deficiency?

     Chronic alcohol use depletes selenium stores in the body. widespread infections can also lead to decreases in selenium. Individuals with long-term gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Crohn's disease, may not absorb enough selenium from foods

  What diseases show Selenium deficiency?

   Abnormally low levels of selenium in the body may also be associated with a number  medical conditions, including anxiety disorders, asthma, depression, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and seizures.


           Taking more than 10 times the recommended daily allowance of selenium can result in toxic effects such as brittle hair and fingernails, skin rash, changes in the nervous system, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue.

            Concomitant use of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may inactivate sodium selenite supplements.   

       Recommended daily dose

                       50-200 mg /day. Most individuals who eat a "western-style" diet get enough selenium from meats or seafood, whole grains, and vegetables grown in selenium-rich soil.

    What do animal studies show ?

    In animal studies, supplemental selenium has been associated with recovery of at least partial muscle control after spinal cord injury or brain damage. Animal studies have also shown a possible decrease in blood glucose among diabetic animals given selenium. It may also help to control some of the complications (damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves) caused by diabetes. Oversupply of selenium is associated with development of insulin resistance and diabetese.

           What to look for in a selenium supplement

            Selenomethionine is the principal form of selenium found in foods. Selenomethionine is virtually 100% absorbed and well retained as compared to inorganic selenium, which is rapidly excreted.

             Yeast preparations can be produced to contain substantial amounts of selenomethionine suitable for selenium supplements.

               Some manufacturers mechanically mix sodium selenite or selenium dioxide, with ordinary yeasts. These yeast products contain virtually no selenomethionine. The selenium in these yeasts is significantly less bioavailable than selenomethionine. Studies have shown that such yeast products produce only small increases in blood selenium concentrations.

                  Other artificially selenized yeasts contain sodium selenate, which is not normally present in foods. A study found that selenate was less effective than selenomethionine to correct a deficiency.

                   Read labels to determine which form of selenium is in the supplement.
Best choice: selenomethionine.