What is the benefit of Selenium?
Selenium is a trace mineral that our body requires only in the smallest amounts, and which we mainly get from plants that take up selenium from the soil as they grow. One benefit of Selenium is as a building block of selenoprotein, an antioxidant enzyme. The antioxidant enzymes check the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Our body produces free radicals as part of our normal metabolic processes, but they can be destructive if present in too-large amounts.
Another benefit of Selenium is it aids the immune system, and helps reduce the risk of viral infections like hepatitis, as well as some types of cancers. Healthy thyroid function is still another benefit of Selenium.
There is strong evidence that a benefit of selenium also includes protection against the development of prostate cancer. In one study over an eight-year period, involving 1,312 people taking 200 micrograms of selenium daily, the incident of prostate cancer dropped by 63 percent. In fact, 50 percent of the selenium in a male is stored in his testes and seminal glands.
How does Selenium work?
Selenium is part of the enzyme system that controls prostaglandins, which have a variety of functions in our body. A benefit of Selenium is that it increases the “good” prostaglandins (which help to regulate blood clotting) and decreases the “bad” prostaglandins (which cause inflammation of the joints).
How do I make the most out of Selenium (incorporate it into my diet)?
We only need about 55 micrograms daily to reap the benefit of selenium in our diet, but your doctor may recommend that you take in as much as 100 to 200 mcg each day. In parts of the US, like Nebraska and the Dakotas, the amount of Selenium naturally occurring in the soils probably provides most people enough in their diets. But if you live in a low-selenium area, a supplement might be the answer for you in order to get the full benefit of Selenium. Take selenium with vitamin E to promote its antioxidant functions.
By far the richest food source for you to get the benefit of selenium is Brazil nuts, but fish, kidney and liver are also good sources. Selenium is also found in grains and brown rice, but much of its health benefits are lost in processing.
A final benefit of Selenium: An unexpected benefit of Selenium is that you can use it on your skin to relieve scalp and skin infections like dandruff. This particular kind of selenium is called Selenium Sulfide and comes as a lotion. Use it cautiously since it may irritate your skin.