Selenium is a metallic element that acts as an essential trace mineral in human health. Selenium plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormones and acts as an anti-oxidant. It is incorporated into proteins by binding with certain amino acids to form compounds such as selenocysteine and selenomethionine.
We need selenium in tiny amounts on a daily basis, ranging from 20-70 micrograms. Healthy adults need about 55 mcg daily.
Selenium deficiency causes specific heart and joint problems along with muscle
weakness or pain, and discoloration of the hair, skin, and nail beds. Selenium deficiency is easily treated by consuming foods that are high in selenium.
Taking high doses of supplemental selenium daily for long periods of time can be fatal. Selenium toxicity rarely occurs unless supplements are involved. People should avoid selenium supplements unless taken under medical supervision.
If you are on any of the following medications, do not take selenium supplements unless you have been advised to do so by your health care practitioner:
- oral contraceptives
- gold salts
- statin medications for cholesterol
- blood thinners
The best food sources of selenium include broccoli, lamb, halibut, tuna and garlic.