Selenium is the next trace mineral in our series A to Zinc. This trace mineral really should be a known as a super mineral. Countless studies over decades have shown that optimal intake of this important disease-fighting nutrient can help prevent heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration, slow cellular aging, reduce fat oxidation in the body, inhibit plaque formation in the arteries, and even halt the progress of HIV infection.
Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant that fights damaging articles in the body known as free radicals, especially when combined with vitamin E. The body doesn’t need much selenium and the RDA for an adult is 55 mcg per day, although many healthcare professionals recommend up to 200 mcg per day for optimal health. Though a little is great, a lot can be toxic. Exceeding doses of 700 to 800 mcg daily from all sources could be dangerous over time. However, excess intake is a rare problem in North America, since many people here rely on diets rich in processed foods and find it difficult to get enough selenium in the foods they eat.
The best food sources of selenium are grains and seafood (especially shellfish). Whole wheat flour and brown rice contain about 77 mcg of selenium per cup. Brazil nuts, especially those purchased in the shell, are one of the richest sources of selenium.
Here are some ways that selenium is vital for our health:
• Antioxidant: In a study where participants were given 200 mcg of selenium per day or a placebo for up to 1 year, researchers found that after 9 months, blood glutathione increased by 19% in the selenium group. Glutathione is a major cellular antioxidant that helps protect tissues against free-radical attack and resultant oxidative damage.
• Prostate health: In a study where men were given 200 mcg of selenium per day, the risk of developing prostate cancer decreased by 63%.
• Thyroid health: The highest bodily concentration of selenium is found in the thyroid. Because of this, selenium is a key player in maintaining normal thyroid function. Current research suggests that selenium supplementation may be helpful in co-treating certain types of thyroid disorders.
Before taking supplements please consult with a health care professional.
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