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Selenium Deficiency & The Important Benefits Of Supplementation

Date: 25th February 2014 | Created by: Troo Healthcare | Tags: selenium, selenium deficiency, benefits, supplement, tablets, capsules, dose
Selenium certainly isn't one of the more glamorous supplements in nutrition but recent evidence shows it is vital for maintaining long-term health. Mounting research shows the importance of selenium in cancer protection, healthy brain function, reproductive function and much more. If you live in the UK, or indeed most of Europe, it is highly likely that you are not getting sufficient selenium from your diet. We will show you why Selenium is so important and what you need to do to ensure you are getting the correct dose.

The Disappearance Of Dietary Selenium In Europe

Selenium is a trace mineral, basically meaning that we only need tiny amounts of it. The main source of European dietary selenium until 30 years ago was wheat. At that time wheat was mainly imported from the Selenium rich soils of the United States. Today most crops are harvested at home in European soils with little to no Selenium content. This has had a large impact on the levels of Selenium we now get from our diet.

The Benefits Of Selenium

Selenium is a very impressive nutrient, capable of delivering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is often referred to as an antioxidant, though it works in such a way that is far smarter than an antioxidant food. Instead of having a direct antioxidant effect it actually enhances the body's own natural antioxidant defence mechanisms. Effectively it enhances your body's own inbuilt antioxidant ability.

Selenium is required by the body for normal cell growth and immunity. It helps to protect the body against a number of degenerative diseases (including brain function decline), whilst it also supports the functioning of a liver enzyme (P450) which helps to detoxify cancer causing chemicals. Selenium also plays an important role in supporting healthy male fertility, female reproduction, auto-immune functions and protecting against viruses (Rayman, M.P. - The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9822, Pages 1256 - 1268, 31 March 2012)

No doubt the main attraction in Selenium's C.V. is it's ability to protect from cancer. However it is necessary to emphasise that high doses of selenium does not necessarily mean less cancer risk. Research has shown that there is a U-shaped dose response relationship in this area. This means that if you don't get enough Selenium then your cancer risk increases, get around the right amount and your risk significantly decreases, whilst too much will see your risk start to increase again.

Selenium And Cancer Protection

There are a number of ways in which Selenium could help to protect against cancer. First, it helps to reduce oxidative stress, DNA damage and inflammation, all effects which are associated with cancer progression. Secondly, Selenium supports your immune function therefore allowing your body to fight cancer cells more effectively (Broome CS et al Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):154-62). Finally, there is research to suggest that metabolites in selenium may have their own cancer fighting properties (Rayman MP Proc Nutr Soc. 2005 Nov;64(4):527-42).

Correct Selenium Dose

As is often the case when something is known to be good for you there is a mis-conception that more is better. As we have already discovered there is a clear U-shaped risk-reward pattern when it comes to selenium intake.

Unfortunately some companies jumping on the Selenium bandwagon have gone blindly for the merits of more is better. There are selenium supplements on the market at 200mcg and over - this is more than is needed and could be harmful long term.

If you live in the UK then for women you should be taking a daily dose of 50-60mcg, while for men the optimum dose is around 100mcg. For those living in the US and who consume wheat regularly the chances are you don't need to supplement at all.

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