Selenium (from Greek. “Moon”) is an important trace element for functioning. The liver, heart, spleen and kidneys contain 10-14 micrograms of the substance. The daily dose required to maintain the structure of enzymes and cells is 70-100 mcg.
What is selenium needed for in the body
Selenium is an indispensable participant in the work of antioxidant systems and hormone metabolism in the thyroid gland. Functions of the trace element:
- Control of the amount of free radicals. An overabundance of particles leads to premature aging of cells, which in turn leads to the appearance of malignant formations, diseases of the cardiovascular system, Alzheimer’s disease.
- Strengthening the immune system. As a result of numerous studies, scientists have found out that people who consume foods with a high content of selenium are less likely to develop tumors. Immunity prevents the destruction of DNA and destroys pathogenic cells, eliminates various threats to organs and systems.
- Reducing the risk of heart disease. One of the causes of coronary heart disease is selenium deficiency. Increasing the amount of trace element in the daily diet can reduce the risk of developing the disease by a quarter. In addition, selenium levels inflammatory processes, which also often cause heart disease. Due to the elimination of oxidative processes, the likelihood of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack decreases.
- Improving the functioning of the thyroid gland. The mineral protects the organ from the harmful effects of oxidative processes, activates the production of hormones. Prevents the appearance of hypothyroidism, thyroiditis.
Prevention of deterioration of mental abilities. It has been proven that there is much less mineral in the body of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease than there should be. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts and other foods with a high content of selenium improves mental abilities.
- The ability to eliminate inflammation and oxidative processes makes it possible to reduce asthma symptoms. Chronic disease prevents the free passage of air into the lungs. Due to the narrowing of the airways, breathing becomes difficult, a cough appears.
- Maintaining visual function. Thanks to the participation of selenoproteins, the light pulse is transformed into a nervous one.
Symptoms and causes of deficiency
There are several reasons for the lack of trace elements in the body:
- Low content in soil and food.
- Parenteral nutrition without adding an element.
- Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract: liver, intestines.
- Taking statins, aminoglycazides and some other therapeutic drugs that reduce the content of selenium in the blood.
- Intoxication with arsenic, substances of organic origin, heavy metals.
- Increased consumption. Influenza, coronavirus, hepatitis C and other RNA-containing viruses use Se to generate their own proteins.
- The consumption of the element increases in patients with burns, as well as those on hemodialysis.
- Special periods in life. A large amount of the mineral is required for pregnant women and women during lactation, as well as children.
The lack of selenium in the body entails a number of painful conditions. These include:
- Diseases of the thyroid gland. Due to the deficiency of the mineral, the absorption of iodine worsens, which often results in serious iodine deficiency.
- Delayed physical and mental development in newborns.
- Deterioration of the cardiovascular system.
- Development of the oxidative process. It is poorly displayed on the pigmented area of the retina.
- Weakening of soft tissue regeneration. Wounds heal for a long time, inflammatory and purulent processes often appear.
- Decreased immunity.
- An increase in the propensity to develop inflammatory diseases.
- Diseases of the skin, hair and nails.
- Visual impairment.
- Male infertility.
Today, the risk of experiencing selenium deficiency is not so great due to the fact that vegetable crops are grown in fertilized soil. But there is still a small risk of experiencing a shortage. The problem may be faced by those who live in endemic zones – places where the content of a chemical element in the soil is low. Kurds, elderly people, people with chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract also belong to the risk group. Vegetarians may also face a lack of Se, especially those who adhere to fructorianism and raw food.
Symptoms and causes of excess
Consumption of more than 1 mg of selenium per day leads to a number of adverse effects. Signs of oversupply:
- Garlic smell from the mouth and urine.
- Metallic taste.
- Unstable emotional state.
- Hair loss on some areas of the skin.
- Nail diseases.
In some cases, excess selenium dosage in the blood provokes pneumonia, convulsions, and cardiovascular collapse. There are two reasons for toxic effects:
- Work in industrial production. Manufacture of medicines, paint and varnish products, glass, electronics, chemistry, ore mining, alloy casting.
- Self-designation. Uncontrolled medication is an action that rarely benefits.
To find out how much Se is contained in the blood, a study of cheese or plasma is carried out. The level of toxicity is determined based on 24-hour urine tests. Depending on the geographical location, the permissible dose is 20-1000 mcg / l.
What foods contain selenium
The key to health is a full, balanced diet. How rich or, conversely, poor in useful substances the products are depends on the agricultural technologies that are used in the place of residence or where the supplies are made.
Which foods contain the most selenium (mcg per 100 grams):
- Brazil nuts, fresh – 1700
- Brazil nuts, dried – 540
- Roasted pork kidneys – 265
- Boiled lobsters – 129
- Oyster mushrooms (dried) – 105
- Porcini mushrooms (dried) – 95
- Coconut – 80
- Pistachios – 43
- Fat – 30
- Garlic – 30
- Wheat 25
- Chicken breast, fried meat – 24
- Sunflower seeds – 23
- White bread – 22
- Sea fish – 2-20
- Pasta, enriched, boiled, ½ cup – 18
- Corn groats – 17
- Semolina – 15
- Wheat flour of 1,2 grades – 14
- Buckwheat porridge – 14
- Tuna – 12
- Hercules – 12
- Wheat bran – 12
- Eggs – 11
- Rice groats – 11
- Beans – 10
- Peas – 8
- Sunflower seeds – 8
- Soy – 7
- Beef liver – 6
- Walnuts – 5
- Cheddar cheese – 4
- Beef – 3
Selenium is a trace element that is actively involved in many processes in the body. Its deficiency adversely affects the thyroid gland, the immune system, the health of vision, skin, hair.