Selenium is an extremely important substance for every human body, as it determines many important functions and processes. For example, it is responsible for ensuring that the thyroid gland functions properly, or that our immune system can cope with even stronger bacteria and threats. It is an element that is only found in microscopic quantities in nature, which is why it is sometimes categorised as a micronutrient. The rarity of its occurrence meant that, for many years, no one studied its properties, which are, after all, very interesting and even somewhat unusual.
It plays a very important role, as its presence is essential for the proper functioning of many enzymes. It helps to remove free radicals, but also to protect cells and red blood cells from the toxic effects they exhibit. Selenium undeniably relieves the pain that accompanies arthritis and helps to treat depression. The activities and functions for which selenium is responsible are therefore undoubtedly very important. For this reason, it is important to ensure that selenium levels are correct in the body, as this brings a whole host of benefits.
As far as deficiency of this very important element for our organism is concerned, it is important to know that it is very rare, and occurs most frequently in the case of serious disturbances in the absorption of food from the gastrointestinal tract, parenteral nutrition or after removal of a large part of the small intestine. Nevertheless, it can sometimes happen, although it would be very difficult in the case of our typical Polish diet. Typical symptoms of insufficient selenium in our body are:
- heart failure,
- abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland,
- brittleness and loss of nails,
- nausea, vomiting, sweating,
- nervous system disorders,
- hair loss,
- unpleasant breath.
However, it should be borne in mind that selenium should under no circumstances be supplemented on its own, without consulting a doctor and after appropriate examinations, as its high concentration can have extremely dangerous side effects. Its excess will easily increase the risk of various types of cancer. This is why it is so important to react in good time to any observations that may indicate a deficiency of this important element for the human body.
What is selenium responsible for?
Although selenium is a trace element in our body, its role in the functioning of the human body should not go unappreciated. Selenium is part of enzyme proteins, which are extremely important in the course of many biochemical processes. It is involved in oxidation and reduction reactions, which means that it has the ability to remove reactive oxygen species, i.e. also free radicals. It is therefore an extremely important line of defence in the context of oxidative stress and the dangerous imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants. Selenium plays a particularly important role in connection with thyroid function. It is this organ that contains the most of it. Selenium is involved in the detachment of iodine in thyroid hormones. In simple terms, it can also be said to be an essential part of the thyroid gland's defence against damage to its cells and is therefore responsible for the efficiency of the entire organ. Since oxidative stress threatens the thyroid gland in particular with selenium and iodine deficiency, there is a noticeable increase in the incidence of disease in this organ, especially among women who do not maintain an adequate supply of these elements. Selenium is also important in the context of fertility. Studies have shown that people who were deficient in this element were significantly more likely to have miscarriages or premature births. Selenium is also important for the body's overall immunity, as it accumulates in lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages, thus leading to a stimulation of immune responses.
Occurrence of selenium
You are probably wondering where to find adequate amounts of selenium without additional supplementation. Well, the richest source of this nutrient is Brazil nuts, although you can successfully meet your daily requirement with salmon or tuna, types of fish increasingly popular in our country. In addition, kidneys, offal and seafood are also high in selenium, so the reigning seafood of the salons will also do well in this role of supplementing selenium naturally, although of course not everyone can afford this type of nutrition.
If you prefer meat to fish, you can, in good conscience, try beef or turkey fillet, which, in one hundred grams, cover a very large proportion - as much as fifty per cent - of the human body's daily selenium requirement. An egg together with a slice of bread also goes some way to meeting the body's selenium requirement. Rice is also a good source of selenium, as every hundred grams contains as much as fifteen per cent of the daily requirement.