What is Selenium?

Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for many bodily processes, including the production of antioxidant enzymes that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. It also plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism and immune function. Selenium is found in foods such as nuts (particularly Brazil nuts), seafood, meat, eggs, and grains. (National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Selenium." 2021.)

Why is Selenium Important?

Selenium is crucial for the functioning of several enzymes, including glutathione peroxidase, which protects cells from damage. It also supports immune system function, thyroid health, and reproductive health. As a result, selenium has been hypothesized to play a role against cancer, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, and cognitive decline. SiPhox Health includes selenium in our Mineral Panel due to its significant role in these areas. Both selenium deficiency and excess can lead to health problems, including heart disease, thyroid dysfunction, and weakened immune response.

How Can I Better Understand My Selenium Levels?

To assist in interpreting results, various health organizations and labs outline ranges that indicate normal levels of magnesium in the blood. These ranges often differ slightly from each other. ZRT Laboratory has a list of Heavy Metals & Essential Elements Reference Ranges which can be found here.

According to ZRT Laboratory, the normal range for selenium is 130-362 ug/L.

Selenium deficiency can be caused by poor dietary intake, certain diseases, and gastrointestinal conditions that impair nutrient absorption. Excessive selenium intake, often from supplements, can lead to toxicity, resulting in symptoms like gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, and neurological damage.

How Can I Maintain Optimal Selenium Levels?

To maintain your selenium levels, consider these strategies:

  • Dietary Sources: Incorporate selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, seafood, meat, eggs, and grains into your diet. According to the National Institute of Health, a single ounce of Brazil nuts contains 544 micrograms of selenium (that's 989% of an adult's daily value)!
  • Supplementation: If dietary intake is insufficient, selenium supplements can help. The Recommended Dietary Allowance differs with age, sex, pregnancy, and lactation, so consult with your healthcare provider for the appropriate dosage.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol intake is associated with lower levels of certain vitamins and minerals, including selenium. Read more here.

Where Can I Learn More?