In recent years there has been much interest in selenium and its role in nutrition. As Europe has seen a sharp decline in selenium intakes , there is strong concern that marginal deficiencies may increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
The powerful antioxidant trace element selenium, prevents and helps to treat a variety of serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, thyroid dysfunctions, deficiencies and problems of the immune system, asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, polycystic ovaries, liver damage, heart disease, cancer, AIDS.
What is Selenium
Selenium is a trace element essential for health but necessary only in small amounts. Selenium is incorporated into proteins called selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes.
The antioxidant properties of these proteins help prevent the destruction of cells by free radicals.
Radicals are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism that can contribute to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
These proteins also help regulate thyroid function and play an important role in the immune system. Its antioxidant action is enhanced when combined with vitamin E.
Selenium is found in the soil, concentrated in plants and, in this way, passes through the food chain and is found in most foods.
Very good sources of selenium are
European soil is relatively poor in selenium compared to other regions such as America, Canada and China.
Recommended Daily Intake
Recommended daily intakes for selenium (μg/day)
Despite the small amount of selenium needed by the human body, it is estimated that half to one billion people in the world are selenium deficient. 
According to UK’s NHS, the minimum recommended intake for adults through diet is 75 micrograms (μg) for men and 65 μg for women. 
On the other hand, overloading the body with selenium (of 400 micrograms per day) has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. 
However, it is practically impossible to meet this amount through diet, especially for those who consume mainly processed foods, since selenium is destroyed during food processing.
Recommended daily intakes for selenium (mg/day)
Selenium levels in the body can be determined by means of a blood test or urine analysis.
Selenium Health Benefits
Selenium, offers a range of benefits, from boosting your immune system to improving your cognitive function. Here are some of the most important health benefits of selenium.
The older we get, the more difficult it is to “deal” with free radicals, which cause oxidative stress, which has been linked at times to many chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nervous system diseases, etc.) and premature ageing.
Selenium, as a powerful antioxidant, neutralizes excess free radicals and protects cells from potential damage due to oxidative stress.
Most of the biologically active T3 in the circulation and inside cells is created by the removal of an iodine atom from T4 in a reaction catalyzed by the selenium-dependent enzymes, iodothyronine deiodinases.
Through their actions on T3, T4, and other thyroid hormone metabolites, three different selenium-dependent iodothyronine deiodinases (types I, II, and III) can both activate and inactivate thyroid hormone, making selenium an essential element for normal growth, development, and metabolism through the regulation of thyroid hormones.
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The most common symptoms of selenium deficiency are brittle nails and thinning hair. Other symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, skin rashes, fatigue, irritability and nervous system disorders.
Some of the most important include:
What affects the absorption of selenium?
Selenium is absorbed in the small intestine and its absorption increases in deficiency states. Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E increase selenium absorption while heavy metals such as mercury and phytic acids decrease its absorption.
As an integral part of glutathione peroxidase and thyroxine reductase, selenium probably reacts with any nutrient that affects the antioxidant balance of the cell.
Other minerals that are essential components of antioxidant enzymes include copper, zinc, dismutase peroxide, iron (as catalase).
Selenium and Vitamin E
Selenium as a glutathione peroxidase also appears to help the action of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) by limiting lipid oxidation.
Animal studies show that selenium and vitamin E tend to substitute for each other and that selenium may prevent some of the damage caused by vitamin E deficiency in cases of oxidative stress.
Thyroxine also maintains the antioxidant function of vitamin C by catalyzing its regeneration.
Selenium is an important trace mineral that is difficult to become deficient in. It has many health benefits, including boosting the immune system and helping to prevent cancer. Selenium is absorbed in the small intestine, and Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E increase selenium absorption.
Make sure you get adequate selenium from your diet by eating foods rich in this nutrient.