There are many naturally occurring minerals that are part of a balanced diet, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. But one that you might be less familiar with is selenium. Selenium is a mineral that you only need small amounts of on a daily basis, but one that is still important to pay attention to in the foods you eat.
These are some of the health benefits of selenium and where to find it in the foods you eat and supplements you take.
Research studies have linked selenium to maintaining a healthy heart because of how the mineral interacts with bodily fats and may affect inflammation. Selenoproteins have a way of preventing blood platelets from becoming sticky and protecting cell membranes from free radical damage.
Some studies have also tied selenium to better mental functioning because of its antioxidant properties. Having plenty of antioxidants in your life can build up a defense against the effects of aging and cognitive decline.
Some medical professionals recommend getting more dietary selenium for people who have thyroid dysfunction. This is because there are links between the metabolism of thyroid hormones and selenium. The thyroid glands have a higher concentration of selenium than anywhere else in the body; however, the most selenium is stored in the body’s muscle tissues.
Scientists have found that selenium plays a role in the repair of DNA, which means it might be able to help prevent or prolong certain diseases. Selenoproteins may help protect the body from cell damage and infections, although more research is needed on this topic as it relates to cancer and other serious illnesses.
Foods with Selenium
The recommended dietary amount of selenium is 55 micrograms per day for adult men and women. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can benefit from more like 60 to 70 micrograms of selenium per day. Fortunately, there are many foods that you can get selenium from and also natural supplements that contain it to make up for deficiencies in your diet.
Fish is a wonderful source of selenium, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids and many other nutrients your body needs to thrive. The best seafood options to choose to get selenium are oysters, yellowfin tuna, and halibut. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and work well with other nuts, seeds, and dried fruits in homemade trail mix recipes.
You can also get selenium through food by eating eggs, sardines, chicken breast, sunflower seeds, and shitake mushrooms. Brown rice, beans, lentils, and whole wheat bread contain selenium as well.
But while selenium is definitely good for you, there can be too much of a good thing. Selenium toxicity is a rare but serious condition that could actually be fatal if you get more than 400 micrograms of the mineral per day. This is much more likely from taking questionable supplements than eating food. Overdoing it on selenium can result in dizziness, vomiting, tremors, muscle soreness, and hair loss. To get the selenium you need without the risk of these side effects, stick to healthy foods like the ones mentioned here and all-natural supplements from sources you can trust.