Healthy Foods and Vitamins

What is Selenium

Selenium is a mineral element found in the soil. Although selenium is present in some tissues of the body, such as skeletal muscle tissue, and is important in maintaining the integrity of the functions of the thyroid gland and the immune system, the body cannot manufacture it, and it must be obtained by eating foods that contain it.

Such as grains, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds , and seafood. The amount of selenium found in foods depends on the concentration of selenium in the soil and water in the place where these foods are grown.

What is selenium

Benefits of Selenium

Alleviating selenium deficiency in the body: Eating foods rich in selenium is the first step in reducing the deficiency of this element in the body. If you are unable to eat these foods, you can take nutritional supplements that contain it instead. [3]

Reducing the risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis: (in English: Autoimmune thyroiditis), which is one of the chronic diseases in which the body attacks the thyroid gland and the hormones it secretes, and in a study published in the journal Orvosi Hetilap in 2008, which included approximately 70 people with this disease, and continued Over a period of one year, results showed that taking selenium with the drug levothyroxine (in English: L-thyroxine) contributes to alleviating autoimmune thyroiditis.

Reducing the risk of Kashin Beck Disease : It is one of the chronic diseases that affect the joints, leading to deterioration in health, and restriction and disability of motor functions.

A review of several studies published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research in 2015 showed that taking selenium supplements reduces the risk of developing Kashin-Beck disease, as well as It contributes to alleviating the symptoms of the disease and repairing tears in some bone tissue in children affected by it.

Reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia: (in English: Preeclampsia) or what is known as the pre-eclampsia stage, which is one of the complications of pregnancy, and causes an increase in blood pressure in the pregnant woman, and the appearance of indicators of a decline in the functions of some organs of the body, which are often the liver and kidneys, A review of several studies published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research in 2015 showed an inverse relationship between levels of selenium in the blood and the incidence of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

The study concludes that high levels of selenium in the blood reduces the risk of developing this health problem. However, There is a need to conduct more studies to prove the relationship between taking selenium supplements for pregnant women and reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia.

It is worth noting that it is likely unsafe to take selenium for pregnant women in an amount exceeding 400 micrograms per day. To read more about this, you can refer to the paragraph Warnings for using selenium are listed below.

Benefits There is Insufficient Evidence of its Effectiveness

Reducing the risk of arsenic poisoning: (in English: Arsenic toxicity), as a study conducted on mice and published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology in 2013 showed that eating a diet rich in selenium contributes to alleviating the effects of arsenic poisoning, but these results still need to be verified. More studies to prove it.

Improving the condition of women with cervical dysplasia: (in English: Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia), which is a condition in which cells grow abnormally on the surface of the cervix , forming a potentially cancerous tumor

Precancerous), and a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2015 indicates Taking selenium supplements helped improve the condition of women with cervical dysplasia from the first stage, and contributed to the decline of the disease.

The possibility of reducing the risk of developing hypothyroidism: Studies have differed regarding this benefit. It is believed that selenium reduces the risk of developing hypothyroidism, but it may be harmful to those who already have this deficiency.

For example, one study showed that taking selenium supplements may contribute to raising the rate of conversion of thyroid hormones to their active form in the elderly, but on the other hand Another study showed that taking selenium supplements is not beneficial for people with hypothyroidism.

One study also showed that taking selenium supplements makes the problem of hypothyroidism worse in people with iodine deficiency. To read more about this, you can refer to the section on warnings about using selenium.

Improving the condition of people with pancreatitis: Studies have differed on the effect of selenium in improving the condition of people with pancreatitis. According to a study published in the journal Medizinische Klinik in 2004, it was found that taking sodium selenite Sodium  does not have a positive effect in improving the clinical outcomes in patients with acute pancreatitis.

However, another study published in the journal Zeitschrift fur die Gesamte Innere Medizin und Ihre Grenzgebiete indicated that high levels of calcium in the blood in people with acute pancreatitis causes an increase in the levels of the compound malonic dialdehyde,

which worsens the severity of pancreatitis, and the study showed that Taking sodium selenite helps restore calcium to normal levels in the blood, thus reducing high levels of malonic dialdehyde in patients with acute pancreatitis, which reduces the severity of their disease.

Improving the condition of people with rheumatoid arthritis: There are conflicting studies about the effectiveness of selenium in improving the condition of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology in 2001 showed that taking selenium supplements did not show any improvement in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,

While another study published in the journal Medizinische Klinik showed that taking selenium supplements may contribute to alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as pain and swelling of the joints, and it may also help reduce the consumption of painkillers by those affected,

It is worth noting that rheumatoid arthritis is considered an immune disease. It is advised that those suffering from it should avoid taking selenium supplements, as they enhance the activity of the immune system and may worsen the condition of those suffering from it.

Selenium Side Effects

Taking selenium in doses of less than 400 micrograms per day for a short period is often considered safe , while taking it in large quantities and for a long period of time is likely to be unsafe.

Eating more than 400 micrograms of selenium per day may cause an increased risk of selenium toxicity, Higher than the recommended amounts (RDA) and for a long period may raise the risk of diabetes, while taking selenium in large quantities may lead to several side effects such as nausea, vomiting, changes in nails, low energy levels, and irritability.

Also, taking selenium for a long period of time may cause toxicity somewhat similar to arsenic toxicity, which leads to hair loss, nail infections, the occasional appearance of white lines on the nails, a feeling of fatigue, irritation, nausea, vomiting, a breath odor similar to garlic, and a feeling of a metallic taste.

In the mouth, taking selenium may also cause muscle pain, tremors, dizziness, facial flushing, blood clotting problems, some liver and kidney problems, and other side effects.

It is worth noting that it is likely safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take selenium in the short term, in an amount not exceeding 400 micrograms per day, while it is likely unsafe for them to take it in an amount exceeding 400 micrograms per day, as mentioned previously, as this may cause an increase in the risk of poisoning for them, and for children.

It is likely safe for them to consume moderate amounts of selenium in the short term, and the following is an explanation of the maximum permissible daily intake of selenium for children at different ages:

Warnings of using Selenium

People with some medical conditions may need to consume selenium or its supplements, while it is not suitable for people with other medical conditions, and the following is an explanation of that: [16]

People with autoimmune diseases: (in English: Autoimmune diseases), as taking selenium may enhance the activity of the immune system, which has a negative impact on people with autoimmune diseases, and therefore it is recommended for people with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis  and lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus), and rheumatoid arthritis, by avoiding taking selenium supplements.

Selenium Sources

Selenium is available in many foods, including: fish, all kinds of meat, walnuts, and eggs, in addition to nuts, bananas, spinach, and other sources.

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Zaheer Ahmad

I am Zaheer Ahmad. Currently I am doing P.hd on Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Sorbonne University. Previously, I have also done masters in Molecular Nutrition and Food Technology.

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