Selenium, present in our body in small amounts, is an important trace element for the functioning of the thyroid gland and our well-being, also known for its antioxidant properties. We usually find it in water and some foods, and in our body, it is necessary for the synthesis of certain proteins. But let’s find out more about the benefits of selenium, how much we need to take per day, in which products it is contained and what happens in case of deficiency or excess of this mineral.
Useful properties of selenium
Selenium is a natural antioxidant that fights the damaging effects of free radicals, prevents premature aging, and preserves the elasticity of tissues. It also acts on the thyroid gland, contributing to its proper functioning: it regulates its activity and protects it. This important mineral also strengthens the immune system, has an anti-inflammatory effect and, together with vitamin C, helps fight infections and prevent seasonal diseases. Selenium also helps the nervous system by preventing memory and cognitive impairment. It also prevents heart disease by preventing the formation of blood clots, which can lead to strokes, embolisms, and kidney failure. Selenium is also good for our hair: it improves its growth rate and, in combination with zinc, helps to make hair stronger and shinier.
The daily need for selenium and where to find it
The daily requirement for selenium in adults is approximately 50-55 mcg. During pregnancy and lactation, the dose increases to 60-70 mcg per day. However, it is important never to exceed 400 mcg per day to avoid selenium poisoning. Selenium is found mainly in animal products such as meat, offal, lamb, chicken, and beef, as well as in fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and cod, hake, flounder, as well as crustaceans, and shellfish.
Selenium is also present in eggs, especially in the yolk, in milk and its derivatives, in whole-grain products, and in vegetable products such as broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, and mushrooms, although in smaller quantities. Among the plant products rich in selenium, we find cashews and Brazil nuts, it is also present in brewer’s yeast and legumes, especially in chickpeas, lentils, and beans, preferably dry.
Selenium deficiency or excess: what are the symptoms
Selenium deficiency occurs in sufferers of metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism, or if there are intestinal diseases. Selenium deficiency can also cause iodine deficiency in the thyroid gland. Which can also cause muscle weakness, skin problems, premature aging, decreased immune protection, and cardiovascular problems. In case of selenium deficiency, there are natural supplements that should be used on the recommendation of a doctor.
In case of excess selenium, it can become toxic to the body, exceeding 300-400 micrograms per day, it can cause gastrointestinal disorders, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, brittle nails, and white spots on the skin. The most serious consequences can be drowsiness, confusion, convulsions, and damage to the nervous system. That is why it is important not to overdo it with supplements and use them only on the recommendation of a doctor and in the right doses.
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