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What is selenium?
An essential trace element, selenium is nonmetallic, gray in appearance, and similar to
sulfur in its chemical composition. It is often available in single or multivitamin
Why do you need it?
Selenium is needed to activate a number of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. It also activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer, and has been shown to induce “apoptosis” (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Selenium also plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system. Studies have found that selenium supplementation stimulates the activity of white blood cells. It also enhances the effect of vitamin E, one of three vitamins that act as antioxidants.
How much selenium should you take?
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selenium is as follows:
* Adult men: 55 micrograms/day
* Adult women: 55 micrograms/day
* Children aged 7-10: 30 micrograms/day
* Infants: between 10-15 micrograms/day
* Pregnant/lactating women: between 65-75 micrograms/day
What are some good sources of selenium?
Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium. Yeast, whole grains, garlic and seafood are also good sources. Some vegetables may contain considerable amounts of selenium depending on the content of selenium in the soil.Mustard seeds emerged from food ranking system as a very good source of selenium .
What can happen if you don’t get enough selenium?
While most people do not consume enough selenium on a daily basis, severe deficiency is
rare. Soils in some areas are selenium deficient, and people who eat foods grown primarily
on selenium-poor soils can be at greater risk for deficiency. The most notable condition
caused by selenium deficiency is Keshan disease, which causes an abnormality of the heart
muscle. Some studies have shown that patients with AIDS have abnormally low levels of
selenium. Other research has demonstrated an association between heart disease and depleted levels of selenium.
What can happen if you take too much?
Taking large amounts (more than 1,000 micrograms) of selenium per day can cause the loss of fingernails, teeth, and hair; nausea; and fatigue. In conjunction with iodine-deficiency induced goiter, selenium supplementation has been reported to increase the severity of low thyroid function.