If you’re looking to help support the healthy functioning of your body, then consider adding selenium to your diet.
Haven’t heard of selenium before?
It’s an amazing nutrient that can provide many health benefits vital to your health.
You only need a small amount of it and can help with a variety of processes in your body.
I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a hormonal support naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, and today I’d like to help you understand what selenium is and what it can do for you.
So let’s take a look at selenium and its benefits for your diet.
What is Selenium?
Selenium is a mineral that’s found in soil.
It’s an essential mineral and as such, it must be obtained through your diet.
Selenium is naturally found in a variety of foods as well as water.
Adding selenium rich foods into your nutrition can play a key role to your overall health.
What Does Selenium Do For Your Body?
Selenium has been found to help with a variety of body functions.
Not only does it help your body but there have been studies of its potential benefits to numerous conditions.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways selenium could benefit your health.
It Supports Your Thyroid
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped endocrine gland in your neck.
Did you know your thyroid tissue has a higher amount of selenium than any other organ in your body?
Selenium can help protect your thyroid against oxidative damage.
It can also play an essential role in your ability to produce thyroid hormones.
A healthy thyroid gland regulates your metabolism as well as controls growth and development.
Studies have shown that selenium could benefit people with certain thyroid disorders, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
One study found that selenium supplements lowered thyroid antibodies, but more research is required.
It Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Selenium may play a role in keeping your heart healthy.
Low levels of selenium have been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
Adequate selenium levels can also reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Adding foods with higher quantities of selenium can help keep inflammation and oxidative stress low, and your heart healthy.
It’s A Potent Antioxidant
Antioxidants are important because they prevent cell damage.
Most of this cell damage is caused by free radicals, byproducts from the processes of your metabolism.
A diet rich in processed foods, stress, smoking, and alcohol use can cause an excess of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress and damage to your cells.
Selenium works as an antioxidant by helping reduce oxidative stress, which can help protect your body from other conditions.
There are many other antioxidants you can get in your diet as well, including:
It Keeps Your Mind Sharp
It is believed that oxidative stress is involved in the onset and progression of numerous neurological diseases.
This includes things like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Studies show that Alzheimer’s patients have lower levels of selenium in their blood.
Furthermore, antioxidants, like selenium, may improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s.
Mediterranean diets, consisting of rich selenium foods like nuts and seafood, are associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
Selenium may also improve verbal fluency and various other mental functions in those with mild cognitive impairment.
It Supports Your Immune System
You need a healthy immune system to keep your body strong and able to fight off threats like viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Through its reduction of oxidative stress, selenium reduces inflammation and boosts your immunity.
Having adequate selenium levels in your body can help improve your immune response.
In this case, selenium supplements could strengthen the immune system in those with tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and influenza.
Studies have also shown a link with selenium deficiency and increased risk in the disease progression of people with HIV.
In particular, a 2019 review by Muzembo et al found that selenium supplementation can slow the progression of HIV into AIDS.
However, more research is needed.
Dietary Sources of Selenium
The amount of selenium in food sources depends on the content of soil that the foods were farmed in.
Do your best to get selenium from whole foods, otherwise the mineral might lose its nutrient value from processing.
These are some natural food sources that contain selenium:
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Poultry, such as chicken breast
- Yellowfin tuna
- Red snapper
- Shiitake mushrooms
Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency
Selenium deficiency can be more or less common depending on your diet and availability of food sources based on your location.
Some of the common symptoms of selenium deficiency include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle weakness
- Weakened immune system
- Hair loss
Is It Possible To Overdose On Selenium?
While selenium is an essential mineral that can contribute to good health, taking too much can be toxic.
It’s good to keep in mind that toxicity is more likely to happen from taking supplements rather than eating selenium rich foods.
In severe cases, excess amounts of selenium can lead to acute selenium toxicity.
This can cause serious intestinal and neurological symptoms, kidney failure, heart attack, and in extreme cases, death.
Some signs of selenium toxicity you should watch out for:
- Bad breath
- Liver, kidney, and heart issues
- Muscle soreness
- Facial flushing
It’s possible for selenium to interact with other supplements and medicines.
This includes antacids, chemotherapy drugs, birth control, niacin, cholesterol lowering statin drugs, and corticosteroids.
There may also be a potential association between selenium supplements and skin cancer, so avoid them if you are at risk.
Don’t let this scare you from adding selenium into your diet for its benefits, though.
If you’re considering adding selenium supplements to your routine, though, it’s a good idea to…
Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today
Are you wondering if you’re getting the right amount of selenium in your diet to benefit your body?
Whether you have existing conditions or want to increase the overall health of your body, I am here to help.
I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga Ontario.
I can address your nutritional concerns and offer you counseling services to get you on the right track.
Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today and let’s work together towards getting your body functioning at its peak.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.