Selenium has gotten a lot of attention lately as a healthy trace mineral and powerful antioxidant that is worthy of supplementation. Like all antioxidants, it roves your body helping to protect you from the harmful effects free radicals. This antioxidant property means that selenium might be extra important for people at high risk for oxidative stress, like smokers.
This is a mineral that we only need very small amounts of. However, if we don’t get enough of it, it might lead to some serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Yikes—you don’t want any of that stuff!
Getting enough selenium, on the other hand, either through diet or supplementation, might confer a host of benefits:
- Improved thyroid function
- Better skin elasticity
- Anti-aging benefits
- Strengthened immune system
- Protection from cancer
- Improved cardiovascular system
- Reduced inflammation
- Repairing DNA
- Protection against sunburn
- Protection against harmful heavy metals
All that from such a tiny little mineral! There is evidence that selenium works in tandem with vitamin E, so if you are supplementing with one of these nutrients, you might want to take both to get their full antioxidant effect.
The best natural food source of selenium is from brazil nuts. Just a few nuts a day ought to fulfill your body’s requirement so you can reap all the selenium benefits described in this article. Mushrooms are another great source. You can also get some selenium from meat and fish. Depending on where you live, you might be at greater risk for deficiency, because the soil is some area has been depleted of its selenium due to unsustainable farming practices.
Selenium in Men
Selenium works together with vitamin E to keep your prostate healthy. It is vital to the production of sperm, and because it gets used up when making sperm, men generally have a greater need for selenium than women.
Toxicity and Overdose Symptoms
Selenium is one supplement that you want to be very careful not to take too much of. Unlike vitamin D, which is difficult to overdose on, you can easily take too much selenium and suffer some unpleasant side effects. Make sure to keep your intake under 400-600 mg daily, at the very most. In fact, you should talk to your doctor if you’re planning to take anything close to that much. The side effects of overdose include increased cholesterol, bad breath, nervousness, hair loss, depression, and more! So while selenium can really improve your health, you need to be careful not to take too much.