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Selenium is an essential trace mineral, meaning that although it is important for the body, only small amounts of it are required for the maintenance of overall health.
As per research by Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health, selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins, called selenoproteins. The study highlights that selenium helps to make DNA, and protect against cell damage and infection. The ’Recommended Dietary Allowance’ (RDA) for adult women is 55 micrograms daily, while women who are pregnant and lactating, require about 60 and 70 micrograms daily, respectively.
It can be naturally found in various food sources such as brazil nuts, shellfish, chicken, turkey, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.
Here’s why selenium is critical for maintaining overall health:
Plays the role of a catalyst for antioxidants
Selenium is a cofactor for antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme protects the tissues from oxidative damage. Therefore, the body requires selenium to derive benefits from antioxidants, which are important for reducing inflammation and preventing free radical damage.
Boosts the immune system
This mineral helps with cell growth, thereby playing an important part in the upkeep of the immune system. Selenium is essential for the proper functioning of neutrophils, macrophages, NK cells, and T lymphocytes, which help fight infections and facilitate wound healing.
Improves thyroid health
Selenium plays a major role in metabolizing thyroid hormones. Hence, helping to regulate the metabolism, digestive function, and stress levels. As per research by the International Journal of Endocrinology, selenium along with thyroid medication helps to lower autoimmune thyroid antibodies, and improve postpartum thyroid function.
Reduces risk of certain cancers
Selenium helps with reducing DNA damage and oxidative stress, boost the immune system and destroy cancer cells. As per research by the International Journal of Scientific Reports, having a high blood level of selenium is associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers.
Prevents mental deterioration
As per the journal ‘Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience’, oxidative stress is associated with the onset and progression of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s. Selenium is known to reduce oxidative stress, and as per research by the European Journal of Nutrition, supplementing the diet with selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts helps improve verbal fluency. The study also linked adequate selenium intake with an improvement in mental functions in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
A deficiency in selenium intake could cause cardiomyopathy, disease of the heart muscle, and osteoarthritis.
So ladies, be mindful of your health and wellbeing, and ensure adequate intake of this mineral through your diet!