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Selenium; a trace element – too little can affect the whole body

# Micronutrients | 29. November 2017

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is important for many bodily processes, including cognitive function, a healthy immune system, and fertility in both men and women.

This means that it has to be absorbed with our food so that everything in the body works smoothly. Since we only need it in small amounts (in the range of micrograms, ie 1/1000 grams), it is counted among the trace elements. How much selenium is present in our food depends very much on the soil in which our plants grow and on which our animals feed. In many parts of Europe, the soil is extremely low in selenium, so that it is difficult for Germany to provide proper nutritional support. The official reference values ​​of 30-70 microrograms daily for adults seem too low for many experts, so if everything is to function properly in the body, it should at least be 100-200 micrograms. Selenium is an extremely vital mineral for the human body as it increases immunity, takes part in antioxidant activity that defends against free radical damage and inflammation, and plays a key role in maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Natural food sources that are high in selenium include Brazil nuts, eggs, liver, tuna, cod and sunflower seeds, in addition to poultry and certain types of meat. The Brazil nut is the leader; one nut contains 70-90 micrograms of selenium! Whole foods are the best sources for selenium, especially when these foods are handled and prepared in a delicate manner because selenium can be destroyed during processing and high heat cooking methods. Selenium is mainly contained in the outer layers of the grain, but unfortunately this is lost when processing the grains into white flour.

Selenium is involved in numerous processes and functions in the body. So it is the protective element for the thyroid, because in the production of thyroid hormones many reactive harmful substances are formed, which are intercepted by the selenium enzymes. A sufficient supply of the thyroid with selenium is therefore important to prevent thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto, Graves’ disease or inflammation and hypothyroidism. Because selenium has an antioxidant effect, it can also be used to protect cells against cancer and HIV infections. Selenium stimulates the immune system by activating the body’s defense system. In addition, selenium can bind heavy metals and help remove them from the body and thus support the liver in detoxification.

However, before taking selenium, one should measure the selenium status in the blood. In fact, increased values ​​may also occur, e.g. by foods that are highly enriched with selenium or environmental factors such as inhalation of selenium dust in the electrical, gas or porcelain industry, heavy smoking (selenium in the cigarette) or in some fish (cod, herring) or nuts (coconut, pistachio or the Brazil nut).

When taking selenium, you should prefer inorganic selenium in the form of sodium selenite or sodium selenate, as it is easier to control in the body. There are many different supplements, we are happy to help you find the right one!

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