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1817, Selenium Discovered

The Following Content Provided by my Business Partner: USANA, The Cellular Nutrition Company

Selenium is a trace element that functions as part of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, a vital antioxidant system that protects cell membranes.

Selenium deficiency has been linked to Kashin-Beck’s disease and Keshan disease. Selenium is found mostly in grains and seeds, though their exact selenium content depends on the amount of selenium in the soil in which they are grown. Seafood, kidney, liver, and other meats are also high in selenium.

The Following Content Provided by: The Linus Pauling Institute

Selenium is a trace element that is essential in small amounts, but like all essential elements, selenium can be toxic at high levels. Unlike plants, most animals – including humans – require selenium for the appropriate functioning of a number of selenium-dependent enzymes known as selenoproteins.

Nutrient interactions
Antioxidant nutrients
The importance of selenium to biological systems, and specifically to the cellular redox (pro-oxidant/antioxidant) balance, is derived from its presence as selenocysteine in the catalytic site of selenoproteins.

Antioxidant Nutrients
The importance of selenium to biological systems, and specifically to the cellular redox (pro-oxidant/antioxidant) balance, is derived from its presence as selenocysteine in the catalytic site of selenoproteins.

While iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, the selenium-containing iodothyronine deiodinases (DIOs) are enzymes required for the conversion of thyroxine (T4) to the biologically active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3) (see Function). DIO1 activity may also be involved in regulating iodine homeostasis (39). The selenoenzymes, glutathione peroxidases, also play a critical role in thyroid function because they catalyze the degradation of peroxides generated during thyroid hormone synthesis(8). The epidemiology of coexisting iodine and selenium deficiencies in central Africa, but not in China, has been linked to the prevalence of myxedematous cretinism, a severe form of congenital hypothyroidismaccompanied by mental and physical retardation. 

Individuals at increased risk of selenium deficiency Part 1 of 3
Selenium deficiency has been reported in chronically ill patients who were receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) without added selenium for prolonged periods of time. Muscular weakness, muscle wasting, and cardiomyopathy (inflammation and damage to the heart muscle) have been observed in these patients. Nowadays, TPN solutions are routinely supplemented with selenium. The risk of selenium deficiency may be increased following bariatric surgery or in severe gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn's disease. 

Individuals at increased risk of selenium deficiency Part 2 of 3
Keshan disease
Keshan disease is a fatal form of dilated cardiomyopathy that was first described in young women and children in a selenium-deficient region in China. The acute form of the disease is characterized by the sudden onset of cardiac insufficiency, while the chronic form results in moderate-to-severe heart enlargement with varying degrees of cardiac insufficiency (43). The incidence of Keshan disease is closely associated with very low dietary intakes of selenium and poor selenium nutritional status.

Individuals at increased risk of selenium deficiency Part 3 of 3
Kashin-Beck disease
Kashin-Beck disease (KBD) is another endemic condition that affects an estimated 2.5 million people in Tibet, northern and central China, North Korea, and southeastern Siberia (47). KBD is characterized by the degeneration of articular cartilage between joints (osteoarthritis) that can result in joint deformities and dwarfism in the most severe forms of the disease. The disease affects children as young as two years old. As with Keshan disease, KBD is prevalent in selenium-deficient provinces and thus generally affects people with very low selenium intakes.

Infectious diseases
Autoimmune thyroid diseases

The Following Content Provided by: The University of Maryland Medical Center

Selenium is an essential mineral found in small amounts in the body. It works as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. Antioxidants like selenium help fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage cell membranes and DNA, and may contribute to aging and health conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Selenium plays a role in thyroid function. Your immune system also needs selenium to work properly. People with conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to certain types of cancer often have low levels of selenium. However, in most cases scientists are not sure whether low selenium levels are a cause or an effect of the disease.

When researchers examined whether selenium had any effect on skin cancer, they found that people who took as little as 200 mcg of selenium per day for more than 7 years had a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More studies are needed to understand the meaning behind these findings. In the meantime, you should not take more than the daily recommended allowance of selenium without your doctor's supervision.

If you are healthy and eat a well-balanced diet, you probably get enough selenium. You may have low levels of selenium if you:

·       Smoke cigarettes

·       Drink alcohol

·       Take birth control pills

·       Have a condition that prevents your body from  
        absorbing enough selenium, such as Crohn
        disease or ulcerative colitis

Immune function 
Many studies suggest that the body needs selenium for the immune system to work properly. Selenium, along with other minerals, can help boost white blood cells, which improves the body's ability to fight illness and infection. A few studies suggest that selenium might help prevent some infections, such as a bacterial skin infection that often occurs with lymphedema, and mycoplasma pneumonia. In addition, one study suggested that when elderly people took zinc and selenium supplements, their immune systems responded better to the flu vaccine than those who took placebo.

Possible Interactions
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use selenium supplements without first talking to your health care provider.

Drugs that affect selenium levels in the body

Drugs that may lower levels of selenium include:

·       Cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug

·       Clozapine (Clozaril)

·       Corticosteroids, such as prednisone

·       Valproic acid (Depakote) 

Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs (blood thinners)

When taken with these drugs, selenium may increase the risk of bleeding:

·       Clopidogrel (Plavix)

·       Warfarin (Coumadin)

·       Heparin

·       Aspirin 


In animal tests, selenium seems to make the sedative effects of these drugs last longer:

·       Butabarbital (Butisol)

·       Mephabarbital (Mebaral)

·       Phenobarbital (Nembutal)

·       Secobarbital (Seconal)

The Following Content Provided by WHFoods
Role in Health Support Part 1 of 2
Antioxidant Protection
Selenium is required for the proper activity of a group of enzymes called glutathione peroxidases. (You'll sometimes see the abbreviation "GPO" or "GPx" for a glutathione peroxidase enzyme.) These enzymes play a key role in the body's detoxification system and they also provide protection against oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is physiological circumstance in which there is excessive risk of oxygen-related damage to the body.) Of the eight known glutathione peroxidase enzymes, five of them require selenium.

In addition to the activity of glutathione peroxidase, selenium-containing enzymes are involved in recycling of vitamin C from its spent form back to its active one, allowing for greater antioxidant protection.

Role in Health Support Part 2 of 2
Support Normal Thyroid Function
A selenium-containing enzyme is responsible for transforming a less active thyroid hormone called T4 into the more active T3. As you'll see below in the Relationship with Other Nutrients section, selenium and iodine work together to keep thyroid function strong and consistent.

Like the antioxidant protection issue, this is not just an esoteric concern. Researchers have been able to induce problems with the thyroid gland in just two months of a low-selenium diet.


Suggested Food Sources:

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Cucumber Herb Salsa and Wild Ramp Verde Vinaigrette

Smoked Cherry Beef, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Verjus Poppy Seed Dressing 

Leek, Potato and Shiitake Mushroom Frittata 

Thai Coconut Chicken with Vegetable Noodles

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