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Why Selenium?

Updated: Feb 28

January 15, 2018

Laura Hering RDN, LD, Ashley Mulkern, Dietetic Intern

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What exactly is selenium?


Selenium (Se) is a mineral that is essential to maintaining good health. Selenium is a micronutrient, meaning the body only needs small amounts to function properly. Most healthy adults can meet their needs without much effort through their daily intake of food[4]. Selenium is naturally found in meat, seafood, and dairy products, as well as in plant sources like Brazil nuts and cereal grains.


Selenium has antioxidant properties due to its role in proteins called ‘selenoproteins’.  Selenoproteins’ main function in the body is to rid the body of free radicals by acting as antioxidant enzymes[2]. They also serve additional functions such as regulation of immune cell count and thyroid function.


What are antioxidants and why should I be aware of them?


An antioxidant is a substance (such as selenium, zinc, vitamin C, etc.) that binds to and removes damaging “oxidizing” agents from the body called free radicals. Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage by removing these negative substances from your body.


‘Free radicals’ are natural byproducts of oxygen metabolism that cause damage to cells and can contribute to the development and progression of chronic illnesses[2].


Why is selenium intake important for people with chronic illnesses?


Since selenium plays a large role in your body’s immune system regulation, it’s crucial to take in enough of this vital mineral to keep your immune system strong. When you’re battling a chronic illness, your immune system can become compromised from the physical and often emotional stress the disease is causing. When your immune system becomes compromised it is less able to protect your body from the germs and viruses we come into contact with every day, and it leaves you susceptible to contracting secondary infections and illnesses.

Selenium's function as an antioxidant has also been studied for its role in reducing the negative effects of certain chronic diseases[2].  The antioxidant-acting selenoproteins can help reduce the amount of negative byproducts caused by the damaging effects of disease[1]. Antioxidants have also been shown to play a role in pain relief, due to their role in reducing inflammation in the body[3].

Why do we use L-selenomethionine in RESTORE™?


INFINIT Wellness™ contains only the best ingredients, including L-selenomethionine as our form of supplemental selenium. L-Selenomethionine is the most bioavailable and easily absorbed type of selenium. It is an organic form of the mineral that your body cannot make so it must be obtained through the diet.


Once L-selenomethionine enters your body, much of it is converted into selenocysteine and used to make the selenoproteins needed for antioxidant and immune function. If you don’t consume enough selenomethionine through your diet, your body is unable to make selenocysteine [2]. Without selenocysteine, your body cannot make those crucial, selenoproteins. Selenoproteins are selenium-containing protein complexes that work to rid the body of free radicals by acting as antioxidants, regulating immune cell count, and thyroid function [2].


How do I know if I need more selenium in my diet?


While clinically diagnosed selenium deficiencies are extremely rare in the United States, selenium supplementation has been shown to be beneficial for those with chronic illnesses such as cancer, HIV, and cardiovascular disease due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Signs of selenium deficiency include hair loss, muscular weakness, and muscle wasting.  Selenium deficiency can also be associated with Kashin-Beck disease and Keshan Disease [4].


** Speak to your health care provider if you suspect a deficiency to discuss the best course of action for your unique circumstances.



References

1. Boosalis, M. G. (2008, April & may). The role of selenium in chronic disease. Retrieved November 22, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18390782

2. Gropper, S. A., Smith, J. L., & Carr, T. P. (2013). Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

3. Mayne, S. T. (2003, March 01). Antioxidant Nutrients and Chronic Disease: Use of Biomarkers of Exposure and Oxidative Stress Status in Epidemiologic Research1. Retrieved November 22, 2017, from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/3/933S.short

4. What is Selenium? (2015). Retrieved November 22, 2017, from Nutrition Digest http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/what-selenium

Infinit Wellness does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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