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Selenium – why is it so useful during a pandemic?

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

It is involved in many processes in the body

In flu season and during a pandemic, taking supplements is of particular importance for the normal functioning of the body. Selenium is one of the minerals that the body needs for many enzymatic processes. It is vital for reproductive, heart and cognitive health, as well as the functioning of our immune system. It lowers inflammation in the body, which is the cause of infections, repels free radicals and supports the production of hormones, especially those of the thyroid gland.

Defined as a strong antioxidant, selenium should be present in our winter menu. That is why it should be both healthy and varied. But according to statistics, at least 1 billion people around the world suffer from a lack of the element and do not take enough of it per day.

According to doctor’s prescriptions, adults should consume at least 70 micrograms of selenium per day, and it is recommended that this be done through food and not just in the form of supplements.

How to recognize selenium deficiency?

Selenium deficiency symptoms can be mistaken for those of some diseases. But most often problems with the thyroid gland, iodine deficiency, infertility, lowered immune system and frequent illness in autumn and winter are a sign that it is good to check the amount of selenium in the body and take more.

Although selenium deficiency is rare, some of the more common symptoms indicating the lack of this mineral in the body are:

  • muscle weakness;
  • fatigue;
  • brain fog – a condition in which there are memory problems, difficulty concentrating, lack of mental clarity;
  • hair loss
  • weakened immune system
  • infertility in men and women

Selenium deficiency is difficult to diagnose and it is good to consult your doctor if you suspect one. He will most accurately determine your needs, in addition, he will also appoint other necessary tests.

What foods should we eat to get selenium?

Sometimes the level of selenium in the body depends on the food we eat. If we mostly eat produce that was grown in mineral-poor soils, it’s no wonder we’re deficient. Also, people who do not eat meat risk lowering its amount in the body. How to get it?

It is believed that for a healthy body, the required daily dose is 50-55 mcg for women and 70 mcg for men.

In the case of a lack of selenium in the body, negative consequences affecting the immune system are observed.

Foods with the highest selenium content are: wheat, corn, rice, seafood (salmon, herring, tuna, clams, squid), eggs, meat (beef, chicken, pork, chicken, turkey).

You may have heard of the mineral selenium, but did you know that it was originally thought to be a toxin?

Selenium is a mineral found in soil, water and some foods. It was discovered in 1817 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius. The element was initially thought to be a toxin, but by the 1950s, scientists knew it was an essential element that the body cannot produce on its own, but must obtain from various sources.

The health of our heart, joints, eyes, immune system, reproductive system and especially the endocrine system depends on the intake of selenium.

In the article, we will look at the importance of selenium, how we can get the necessary daily dose of selenium and what selenium is used for.

How to consume selenium?

Selenium can be obtained through foods rich in selenium or through dietary supplements.

Foods that are a good source of selenium are:

  • Nuts – Brazil nut, walnuts;
  • Fish – freshwater and saltwater species such as tuna, herring, cod;
  • Meat – beef and poultry;
  • Rice;
  • Eggs;
  • Liver;
  • Cereals.

These foods are a great source of the mineral, but under certain processing conditions it can be destroyed and it is necessary to drink selenium as a dietary supplement.

There is another risk of selenium deficiency. Even if a person takes enough selenium with food, the amount needed by the body may not be reached if he has the following diseases:

  • Digestive disorder, such as Crohn’s disease;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • Performs dialysis.

Any of these can affect the absorption of selenium by the body and it is good to provide additional selenium intake to support the body.

Adequate selenium intake is also important for people who have a weakened immune system, thyroid disease (Graves’ disease, also known as Based’s disease), and pregnant women.

How and when is the best time to take selenium as a dietary supplement

When taking vitamins and minerals, a common question that comes up is how to take them. Selenium is no exception in this regard.

Unlike some other nutritional supplements, for which there is a recommended morning intake on an empty stomach or with certain foods, the intake of selenium does not have a specific time. If you suffer from stomach problems, it is still advisable to drink selenium during one of your main meals of the day.

When taking selenium, you can also include vitamin E, because it increases the effectiveness of selenium.

How long can you consume selenium?

Selenium is a dietary supplement that is recommended not to take on a regular basis. Although excess selenium leaves the body within 24 hours through natural excretion processes as well as through our breath, you should be careful not to take too high a dose.

Required daily dose of selenium

The required daily intake of selenium is formed by the consumption of foods and supplements.

If you are wondering how to drink selenium and what dose you will need, below we have presented the required daily dose of selenium for children and adults:

  • Children from 1 to 3 years – 20 micrograms/day
  • Children from 4 to 8 years – 30 micrograms/day
  • Children aged 9-13 years – 40 micrograms/day
  • Children over 14 years old – 55 micrograms/day
  • Adults – 55 micrograms / day
  • Pregnant women – 60 micrograms/day
  • Lactating women – 70 micrograms/day

In many countries, the accepted maximum daily intake of selenium is 400 micrograms for adults, and anything above this amount is considered an overdose. If the dose taken is too high, problems with the liver, kidneys, and heart may occur. Taking more than 900 micrograms of selenium per day can be toxic and lead to death.

These are approximate recommended daily doses. Due to the specifics of each organism (height, weight and specific diseases), it is best for your doctor to determine how long to take selenium and what is the necessary amount for you.

Application and benefits of taking selenium

Taken in small doses, selenium has a vital role in the human body, especially in the endocrine, immune and cardiac systems.

Selenium is absorbed in the upper part of the small intestine, where most of its absorption takes place. During this process, selenium enters the blood to supply the tissues and be used by the liver to build proteins. The proteins through which selenium carries out its activity in the body are called selenoproteins. They are specific proteins responsible for thyroid hormones, fertility, slowing down the aging process and improving immunity. They have a key role in cell balance.

Selenoproteins are secreted into the bloodstream, after which the element reaches the brain, kidneys and tissues. About 60% of selenium found in blood plasma is bound to proteins. The highest concentration of the mineral is found in the thyroid gland, pancreas, heart and spleen. It supports the functions of the heart, circulatory system, prostate, lungs, colon.

Selenium – a key mineral for the thyroid gland

Selenium performs an important function related to the thyroid gland and its role in the proper functioning of various components of the immune system.

The thyroid gland is the organ in the body that contains the most selenium. Enzymes help in the process of converting T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. They are dependent on selenium and cannot function without it. And their work is essential for heat regulation, energy metabolism in the body and muscle function.

Also, if there is enough selenium in the body, these enzymes protect human tissues from free radicals and oxidative damage. Therefore, one of the main benefits of taking selenium is that it is a powerful antioxidant that protects our body from cell damage.

Antioxidants like selenium have the ability to protect us by fighting free radicals that damage cells down to the DNA level. They can cause aging, oxidative stress and various diseases.

If the body receives enough selenium and the antioxidant functions are performed, the human body is protected not only from free radicals, but also from viruses and bacteria. This makes selenium intake key for our immune system as well.

Another benefit of taking selenium is that, along with biotin and zinc, it plays a key role in keeping hair and nails healthy.

Selenium also has anti-inflammatory properties that are known to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis, lupus and psoriasis.

For people who often suffer from herpes zoster or herpes simplex, selenium can help because it reduces the severity of the disease and helps reduce the frequency of occurrence.

Selenium’s antioxidant properties could also help with cognitive memory problems and diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress, against which selenium helps, is considered a factor in the occurrence and progression of Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. That is why this element is of extreme importance, and an adequate intake of selenium with the diet or nutritional supplements is recommended.

In asthma, the airways are affected, in which inflammatory processes begin. They narrow and symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing appear. Drinking selenium could also help with symptoms of asthma, which is also associated with oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Risks of taking too much selenium

Taken in the recommended daily doses, selenium usually has no side effects to worry about. But in the event that you have taken more than the required amount, complaints such as:

  • Bad breath;
  • Metallic taste;
  • Tooth decay processes;
  • Neurological complaints;
  • Fatigue and irritability;
  • Rashes;
  • Fever;
  • Stomach complaints such as nausea;
  • Hair loss.

Selenium can react with some medications and supplements when taken together. Caution should be exercised when taking selenium and antacids, corticosteroids, vitamin B3 (niacin), contraceptives, chemotherapy drugs, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

People who are at higher risk of developing skin cancer should not take selenium.

Selenium is an important mineral that is essential for the normal functioning of our body. It has a key role in metabolism and thyroid functions. Selenium also helps protect the body from oxidative stress.

In addition, selenium helps the immune system, slows age-related decline in mental ability, and even lowers the risk of heart disease.

Adding selenium-rich foods is a great way to maintain good health, and in this article we’ve also looked at which foods you can find selenium in so you can get it regularly.

As mentioned earlier, sometimes the body needs help and needs additional intake of selenium supplements. Then it is good to trust a verified manufacturer with many years of experience, who will guarantee you the quality of the product.

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