Selenium is one of thirteen essential minerals – a class of nutrients that are vital for maintaining your body’s health. Minerals are divided into two groups, macrominerals and trace minerals. Selenium is a trace mineral and is naturally found in protein rich foods, seafood, and organ meats. Selenium is a vital mineral involved in reproduction and the metabolism of thyroid hormones, as well as numerous biological functions. We’re going to talk about the benefits of selenium and how it works.
What Is Selenium
Selenium is an essential trace mineral, essential meaning they are needed and must be obtained through your diet and nutrition, since your body does not naturally produce them. Although it’s only needed in small amounts, selenium plays a major role in several important biological processes involving metabolism and thyroid function as well as immune system function and cognition. Selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins, called selenoproteins, that help make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections.
Supports Thyroid Function
One of the most well-known benefits of selenium is its role in thyroid function. Thyroid tissue contains a higher amount of selenium than any other human organ. Selenium acts as an antioxidant and protects your thyroid against oxidative damage. Selenium plays a role in the development of hormones, which regulate metabolism and cell growth. Research suggests that there is a direct and positive correlation between selenium deficiency and thyroid function [R].
Your thyroid gland controls a number of important bodily functions, such as sleep, appetite, weight, energy, and natural body temperature. Low levels of selenium, and result in improper thyroid function, resulting in negative symptoms, such as muscle weakness, irritability, fatigue, lack of sleep, and weight gain.
Acts As An Antioxidant
Selenium acts as an antioxidant helping to prevent oxidative damage to cells. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS), maintaining a proper balance of oxidized and cells in the body. Antioxidants can help protect your body from free radical damage, which has been inextricably linked to chronic disease states, as well as age-related disease.
May Improve Cognition
Research suggests that diets which include foods with healthy vitamins and minerals, as well as bioactive compounds, can contribute to the attenuation of oxidative stress in the brain [R]. Selenoproteins ability to protect against oxidative stress is well documented, proving that selenium is one of the many factors that may affect the risk of cognitive decline and proper neurophysiological function as we age [R].
Helps Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Observational studies have shown that patients with chronic asthma may have lower levels of selenium and that selenium supplementation may exhibit positive benefits on patients with Asthma. A randomize controlled trial with a total of 24 patients suffering from chronic asthma was included reported significant clinical improvement in the selenium-supplemented group, as compared with the placebo group. However the study could not be validated with an improvement of lung function and airway hyper-responsiveness, therefore more research and evidence is needed to determine whether selenium can exude positive therapeutic use for patients with asthma [R].
May Protect Against Heart Disease
Researchers suggest that low selenium levels may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A meta-analysis published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition investigated the association of selenium with coronary artery disease and the efficacy of selenium supplements on heart disease. 25 observational studies and 6 randomized controlled trials were evaluated and found that in observational studies, a 50% increase in selenium concentrations was associated with a 24% (7%, 38%) reduction in coronary heart disease risk. In randomized trials, the pooled relative risk in a comparison of supplements containing selenium with placebo was 0.89 (0.68, 1.17) [R].
Selenium Benefits: Takeaway
Selenium plays a pivotal role in overall health and wellness. Research shows that selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and can benefit thyroid function, cognitive health, as well as immune system function. Adding in protein rich foods to your diet can provide you with the essential micronutrients you need to improve overall health and function.
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