Selenium

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General Description:

  • Se is a part of the detoxifying enzyme, phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase, which destroys damaging free radicals called hydroperoxides and detoxifies peroxidized fats (lipid peroxides) within the membrane, thereby sparing vitamin E
  • works in synergy with vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant
  • Se as L-selenomethionine is better absorbed than sodium selenite

Actions:

  • helps to maintain the health of muscle, RBCs, and keratins
  • supports the pancreas and the immune system
  • helps decrease the toxicity of mercury, silver, and cadmium, which are harmful when they accumulate in the body
  • as an antioxidant it shows cancer-fighting potential, but ironically it was once thought to be cancer causing
  • studies show that cancer death rates decrease as the average blood level of selenium increases (27 countries showed this ”inverse relationship”)
  • lowest levels of cancer have been found among people living where the soil is selenium-rich, with evidence strongest for cancers of the digestive tract, probably because they are the organs most likely to come in contact with Se

Deficiency:

  • Se deficiency almost certainly does not cause cancer directly but low Se intakes probably lower our defenses against substances that do
  • on a low-selenium diet, sufficient amounts of the key selenium-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, may be lacking, depriving us of this important substance that fights free radicals
  • Se deficiency is often assessed in medicine by the level of glutathione peroxidase activity

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • most nutritionists exaggerate the amount of Se likely to be toxic
  • Se toxicity is termed selenosis
  • symptoms of toxicity include: bad teeth, brittle fingernails, discolored skin, dizziness, fatigue and tiredness, garlic odor on breath, GI complaints, hair brittleness and/or loss possibly in bunches, irritability, jaundice, and skin inflammation
  • reports of an unusual rate of spontaneous abortions ”miscarriages” among women working with sodium selenite powder

Sources:

  • whole grains, if grown in selenium-rich soil
  • mushrooms and radishes, followed by carrots and cabbage, have the highest levels of Se for vegetables, if grown in Se-rich soil
  • most fruits are low in Se

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