Selenium offers at least 4 IMPRESSIVE health benefits – here’s how much you need in your diet

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selenium-health-benefits(NaturalHealth365) North Americans are famously deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and B vitamins.  Fortunately, selenium deficiency is relatively rare in the United States, although an estimated 1 billion people throughout the world are lacking in this important nutrient.

In today’s nutritional round-up, we discuss the notable health benefits of selenium, what can happen if you don’t get enough of it, where you can source it from whole foods, and how much selenium you need for optimal health.

Here are 4 important reasons why you should care about getting enough selenium in your diet

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium is a trace mineral that comes in both organic and inorganic forms.  Both forms are considered good dietary sources, although once inside the body selenium is typically found in the organic form selenomethionine.

Selenium is “essential.”  This means our bodies can’t make selenium, so we must get it from our diets.  And even though you don’t need large amounts of selenium on a daily basis, the health benefits of this nutrient are impressive.  Here are four possible benefits shown in the research:

  1. May reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, lung, esophagus, stomach, and prostate, according to a 2016 meta-analysis from Scientific Reports
  2. May help manage asthma and reduce the use of corticosteroid medications, according to data from a 2002 clinical trial
  3. May boost heart health — observational data published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a 50% selenium increase in blood levels was linked with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease
  4. May support brain power and improve mental performance, at least in people with cognitive impairment, as noted by a 2015 paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

In addition, the NIH reports that selenium is involved in DNA synthesis and thyroid hormone metabolism.  This mineral also protects against oxidative stress and infection, thanks to its powerful antioxidant capacity.

To reiterate, selenium deficiency is considered rare in the U.S., although certain people, including individuals living with chronic health conditions like HIV or kidney disease, may be more likely to have insufficient amounts.  The impact of selenium deficiency can be significant, however.  Even a moderate deficiency increases the risk of infertility and prostate cancer in men along with neurological diseases, anxiety, and depression.

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Are you getting enough selenium? These are the top dietary sources

The typical adult needs 55 micrograms (mcg) of selenium daily, according to the NIH.  But before worrying about whether you should add a supplement to your routine, consider eating more foods that are known to be rich sources of this trace mineral.  Top of mind (or top of menu) include:

  • Brazil nuts: 544 mcg per 1 ounce serving (that’s only about 6 to 8 nuts — however, the upper tolerable limit for selenium for adults is 400 mcg, so you might need to curb your Brazil nut intake)
  • Sardines with the bone: 45 mcg per 3-ounce serving
  • Eggs: 15 mcg per single large egg
  • Oatmeal: 13 mcg per 1 cup
  • Lentils: 6 mcg per 1 cup
  • Spinach: 5 mcg per 1/2 cup frozen

Just remember to buy organic – whenever possible – to avoid the unwanted consumption of chemicals.

Generally speaking, it’s unlikely you’ll need to take a selenium supplement, but if you have concerns or are diagnosed with a chronic health condition, be sure to ask your integrative doctor about the right supplement routine for your health needs.

Sources for this article include:

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