The Value Of The Mineral Selenium To Overall Health

In recent years, the value of the trace mineral selenium to overall health and well being has come to light. Many vital health benefits have come to be associated with maintaining sufficient levels of selenium in the body and recent study indicates that this mineral can play an important role in protecting the body from serious disease and illness.

Selenium is especially important in the body’s ongoing battle against free radical damage. In the body, selenium is the source of selenoproteins. Selenoproteins are essential anti-oxidant enzymes that plays an important part in protecting the cells from the damage that unchecked free radicals can do. Some research has associated free radicals with certain types of heart disease and cancers.

In addition to their important role in the control of free radical damage, selenoproteins also serve to strengthen the body’s natural immune system and also helps to produce anti-bodies. For the thyroid to perform at its best, selenium level at the body should be at the proper levels. The thyroid is responsible for many aspects of health including the body’s metabolism. It has also been found out in some studies that this mineral is effective in acne treatment and some also indicates that it may be useful in repairing chromosome damage. It is thought to counteract heavy metals and other contaminants that find their way into the body, as well as to help in the prevention of unwanted and dangerous blood clots.

Deficiency in selenium can have a variety of significant health consequences. Indeed, researchers have found three debilitating diseases that are directly related to serious selenium deficiency. These include Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism which leaves the victim severely and irreversibly mentally retarded, Keshan Disease which leaves selenium deficient children with an enlarged heart that often does not function properly, and Kashin-Beck Disease which causes osteoarthropathy, an illness that causes the clubbing of the digits of the hands and feet plus enlargement of the extremities.

The amount of selenium provided by plant sources depends a good deal on the quality of the soil the plants were grown in. Thus, poor soil will yield plants that may not provide the expected levels of this important mineral. That means that those who follow a vegetarian diet, particularly a vegan diet which uses no animal products whatsoever, must be especially vigilant in making sure that they get enough selenium in their daily diets. A dietary supplement that contains selenium is a safe and sure means of seeing to it that the diet is not lacking in this important nutrient.

Selenium is a trace mineral which means that the body needs relatively small amounts of it. In the same way that too little intake of these mineral can cause serious health problems, taking too much selenium can also cause health problems. Large amounts can be toxic and can lead to a disease called selenosis. Symptoms include gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, white blotchy nails, and mild nerve damage. It is therefore necessary to keep selenium supplements, like any other dietary supplement or medication, kept well out of the reach of children at all times.

Dietary supplements have an important job in overall health and well being but they must be treated with the respect that their powerful properties demand. Always take supplements according to the accepted dosage recommendations unless you have specific and personalized alternative dosage instructions from a qualified health care provider.

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Charlene J. Nuble 2005. For up to date links and information about Vitamins, please go to: or for updated links and information on all health related topics, go to:

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