Selenium is something that I’ve mentioned several times as something beneficial, when discussing featured foods, so today I thought I’d give it a little more attention and really let it shine on its own. Selenium is another one of those microminerals, you don’t need a lot of it (20-70 micrograms), but it is still essential to have. What does it do, you ask? First we’ll start if talking about oxidation again (at the beginning of December we’ll thoroughly discuss this along with inflammation and free radicals). Your body needs oxygen, but sometime it can become too reactive. When this happens then it starts to damage the cells around it. This oxidative stress can lead to heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Selenium can help to prevent oxidative stress, therefore decreases the chances of heart disease and arthritis. Selenium has had a good showing in cancer studies as well. They have shown an inverse correlation with selenium intake and the incidence of cancer. In these studies it has:
- induced DNA repair and synthesis of damaged cells
- inhibited proliferation of cancer cells
- induce apoptosis
Besides being good for cancer risks and heart disease, selenium plays a crucial role in maintaining thyroid function, by helping regulate and produce its most active hormone (T3). Selenium may also play a role in prevention/treatment of the following health conditions:
- cervical dysplasia
- esophageal cancer
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Stomach Cancer
How can you get more selenium in your diet? Brazil nuts have the highest concentration of selenium.
- Excellent sources: button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, cod, shrimp, snapper, tuna, halibut, calf’s liver, and salmon.
- Very good sources: chickens eggs, lamb, barley, sunflower seeds, turkey, mustard seeds.