brazil nuts are rich in selenium

Do You Have a Selenium Deficiency

by Kelley Herring on September 2, 2010

If you’ve been feeling a little low, suffering from a sluggish thyroid or having trouble conceiving… it could be because of the soil our food is grown in.

Reliance on chemical fertilizers and improper farming practices over the last 50 years have depleted our soil of a vital micronutrient – selenium.

And because crops convert selenium into organic forms that can be absorbed by the human body, less selenium in the soil means less selenium on our plate.

In fact, Dr. Margaret Rayman, a professor of nutritional medicine in the U.K. , has found that the amount of selenium we get in our food has dropped 50% in the past two decades.

And that can be really bad news for your health.

Selenium is an antioxidant micronutrient that is required to carry out a wide range of functions in the body. It’s needed to produce at least 25 enzymes including glutathione – your body’s “Master Antioxidant and Detoxifier”. It also boosts the activity of vitamin C and E in the body and is essential to the health of your immune system.

With a selenium deficiency, your body struggles to detoxify and defend itself. The result is cellular damage and inadequate protection against foreign invaders, as well as the mutations that can lead to cancer.

Ban Selenium Deficiency: Boost the “Master of Your Metabolism”

But the selenium story doesn’t end there. Selenium is also vital to the “Master of Your Metabolism” – your thyroid.

It is estimated that more than 20 million people in the U.S. have undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction, much of which may be corrected by adequate selenium.

Selenium is a component of the enzyme that helps convert certain thyroid hormones for use in the body. When there’s not enough selenium, the body produces lower levels of these hormones. This leads to hypothyroidism (and its associated ails – including depression, weight gain, thinning hair and more).

sardines

Wild sustainable seafood – like sardines – are rich in selenium

When it comes to selenium, we’ve only scratched the surface of understanding how this vital micronutrient promotes wellness and protects against disease.

Research shows that getting sufficient selenium can help to:

  • Enhance detoxification and boost your antioxidant defenses
  • Improve thyroid function
  • Boost fertility
  • Guard against cancer
  • Protect the prostate
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis
  • Protect against cognitive decline
  • Reduce the risk of viral infection

While most of us are low in the selenium department, a word of caution: over-supplementing with selenium can cause some harmful side effects.The best (and safest) way to boost your levels is through a whole-foods diet grown according to Mother Nature’s strict standards.

Boost Selenium With Delicious Food

Here are the ways you can reverse a selenium deficiency naturally:

  • Eat Brazil Nuts: Just one Brazil nut per day was found to raise selenium to recommended levels.
  • Pick Pasture-Raised: Studies show that grass-fed beef and bison contain up to 400% more selenium than those that are grain-fed. Pastured pork also contains 75% more than conventionally-raised.
  • Enjoy Wild, Sustainable Seafood: Treasures from the sea can also be a rich source of selenium. But it’s important you’re not getting uninvited dinner guests (like PCBs and mercury) along for ride. Choose wild seafood, especially wild shrimp, scallops, wild salmon, sardines and green-lipped mussels as safe seafood sources of selenium.
  • Go Organic: Studies estimate that organic foods contain 2-3 times the selenium as those grown conventionally – one more reason to go organic!

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About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.


References 
McKenzie RC, Beckett GJ, Arthur JR. Effects of selenium on immunity and aging. In: Hatfield DL, Berry MJ, Gladyshev VN, eds. Selenium: Its Molecular Biology and Role in Human Health. 2nd ed. New York: Springer; 2006:311-323. Beck MA. Selenium and viral infections. In: Hatfield DL, Berry MJ, Gladyshev VN, eds. Selenium: Its Molecular Biology and Role in Human Health. 2nd ed. New York: Springer; 2006:287-298. Combs GF, Jr., Gray WP. Chemopreventive agents: selenium. Pharmacol Ther. 1998;79(3):179-192. Ip C. Lessons from basic research in selenium and cancer prevention. J Nutr. 1998;128(11):1845-1854. Whanger PD. Selenium and its relationship to cancer: an update. Br J Nutr. 2004;91(1):11-28. Garland M, Morris JS, Stampfer MJ, et al. Prospective study of toenail selenium levels and cancer among women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995;87(7):497-505. Peters U, Foster CB, Chatterjee N, et al. Serum selenium and risk of prostate cancer-a nested case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(1):209-217 Rayman MP. The importance of selenium to human health. Lancet. 2000;356(9225):233-24 Sher, L. Role of thyroid hormones in the effects of selenium on mood, behavior, and cognitive function. Med Hypotheses. 2001 Oct;57(4):480-3 Beckett GJ, Arthur JR.Selenium and endocrine systems. J Endocrinol. 2005 Mar;184(3):455-65. Mutetikka, D.B., and D.C. Mahan, 1993. Effect of pasture, confinement, and diet fortification with vitamin E and selenium on reproducing gilts and their progeny. J. Anim. Sci. 71:3211. Selenium and Aflatoxin Levels in Raw Brazil Nuts from the Amazon Basin. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55 (26), pp 11087-11092

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  1. […] 18 grams of thermogenic protein plus 48% of the daily value for the antioxidant micronutrient selenium (which many of us are deficient). Dip in homemade cocktail sauce spiked with cayenne or smoked […]

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