The benefits of selenium range from playing an important role in antioxidant production and your immune system, regulation of your thyroid hormones, and working with iodine and proteins.
These are some of the big picture selenium benefits.
We’ll go in a little deeper and discuss just how selenium benefits your body. Let’s get out the microscope and see just what this little trace element can do for you…
Some important information to know about selenium before we get into it.
Selenium is considered a trace mineral. This means you only need just a little bit for normal functioning. Word of caution… it can be toxic if you take too much. Get at least 55 mcg of selenium per day but no more than 400 mcg per day.
One of the most important benefits of selenium is they work and link up with proteins to create what are called selenoproteins. I’m going to cover a few of the important benefits of these selenoproteins and what they do.
Here are 7 things selenoproteins do for your body...
1) Helps in the creation and production of glutathione. This is huge because glutathione is your body’s natural antioxidant defense against free radicals.
2) Protects developing sperm from oxidative (aka free radical) damage.
3) Regeneration, or re-creation, of several antioxidants, including Vitamin C. This is because selenium is involved with thioredoxin, for those who are itching to know why. Just know that selenium helps to bring used up antioxidants “back to life.”
4) Aids in the regulation of the thyroid hormones by acting as a "mediator" between the 2 thyroid hormones... turning the inactive T4 hormone into an active T3 hormone. Why does this matter? The thyroid hormone is involved with fat loss, metabolism and energy levels in your body. If your thyroid is out of whack, it makes it very difficult to lose weight (sometimes even causing big fluctuations in weight gain and weight loss).
5) Aids in the creation of Selenoprotein P. Selenoprotein P helps protect the body's cells that form the blood vessels, heart and circulatory system. Selenoprotein P fights against Nitrogen free radicals, the free radical that attacks the cells of the circulatory system.
6) Involved in the creation of sperm (aka. spermatogenesis).
7) Involved with the inflammatory and immune responses.
There have been over 25 selenoproteins identified by researchers. I felt these were the most important to discuss.
Let's discuss some of the other selenium benefits...
Selenium also helps with Vitamin E. Recall that Vitamin E helps to protect your cells' outer protective barrier. It has also been noted that during times of low Vitamin E, selenium will preserve Vitamin E from being "sacrificed" if you will.
This means that even if you’re deficient in Vitamin E and you get the daily amount of selenium… your body will use selenium to conserve what little Vitamin E you have in your body.
Now that is what I call teamwork!
Selenium plays a role in the signaling your cytokines. Cytokines are the cells that alarms your immune system to get to work.
Very similar to a fire alarm going off and the fire department going to work to put out the fire. Except think of the "fire department" as your immune system and the "fire" being some disease, foreign body or free radical.
This is kind of a stretch but according to the Linus Pauling website, selenium also appears to be able prevent viruses from mutating. This is helpful because if a virus mutates then it can cause more damage to your body.
Here are a few other diseases that’s been noted where selenium plays a role…
Adequate selenium helps to reduce the occurrence of Keshan disease, which is a muscular disease of the heart that can lead to higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. If you don’t get enough selenium, supplementing is the best (and easiest) way to combat this disease.
Also, selenium could be helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by influencing the metabolism of prostaglandins and reducing the occurrence of lipid peroxidation (the breaking down of the outer protective barrier of your cells).
Excess selenium creates what is called methylated selenium and this has been found to reduce tumor risk. And selenium supplementation has been found to decrease the risk of prostate cancer - the #1 cancer-killer for men in the US.
More studies are happening to see just how much of a role selenium plays in cancer prevention. But then again my theory is it's very difficult to say one thing has a role in cancer prevention since there are so many factors at hand.
Decreasing selenium levels in those who have HIV is one indicator of the disease's progression and how much it's affecting the body. This is even before malnutrition comes into the picture. Since selenium plays a role with T cells and cytokines as mentioned earlier, one way to increase resistance with HIV is with higher levels of selenium.
Selenium also plays a role in reducing cellular stress and breakdown caused by the HIV virus. This is because of selenium's role in glutathione and thioredoxin (which helps regenerate Vitamin C).
How Much Should You Get Per Day?
The benefits of selenium include formation of selenoproteins, their role in glutathione and the regeneration of antioxidants, keeping your immune system signaling properly and combating various degenerative diseases.
Adults, both male and female, should get at least 55 mcg per day with an upper limit of 400 mcg per day to get the benefits of selenium.
This is just the recommended dose for the average person. This can be higher if you’re more active or have certain dietary restrictions or disorders.
And just to give you some examples of food sources with selenium...
1 chicken breast has around 25 mcg
2 oz ground beef has close to 38 mcg
2 slices of whole wheat bread contains around 35 mcg.
Other Selenium Related Articles
Selenium Foods - Now that you know the benefits of selenium, what are the best selenium foods? Chances are you're already eating them but in case you wanted to add 1 or 2 more to your diet I provide a list for you in this article.
Selenium Deficiency - Selenium deficiency isn't something you should be too worried about (because chances are you get enough in your diet already) but it's still good to know what happens if you don't get enough selenium.
Other Related Articles
Benefits of Vitamin A - Vitamin A did more than just help Bugs Bunny with his eyesight. The benefits of Vitamin A includes beta carotene, immunity and fighting off infection (just to name a few).
Vitamin C Antioxidant - Many people hear about the power of the Vitamin C antioxidant. But what makes it so useful as an antioxidant and how much should you actually get to reap the benefits? Click and find out more.
Vitamin E - Vitamin E is a bit of an interesting one. Find out what this fatty loving antioxidant vitamin does for you.