Low Selenium:  Source of Many Chronic Illnesses, Infections

The amazing trace mineral Selenium is critical for so many vital functions in the body.   It is element 34 on the periodic table and it is estimated that as many as 1 billion people worldwide are Selenium deficient due to its deficiency in the soils and the water.

Although selenium can be obtained with supplements it is best consumed in food that contains Selenium.   The foods that either eat plants and grasses with healthy levels of Selenium, are grown in soil with Selenium or live in water with Selenium are the best sources of Selenium.

Areas of the world with Selenium deficient (parts of Russia, Africa, China and New England and the Midwest in the US) soils have greater rates of chronic illnesses and infections.    Africa where HIV / AIDS cases are high has unusually low levels of Selenium in the soils.

The effects of Selenium are with its antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies of Selenium and health have shown Selenium to be effective in preventing or treating several respiratory, lung issues (asthma, mycoplasma pneumonia and mycoplasma Tuberculosis), heart problems and cancer (breast, prostate, colorectal, bladder, lung and esophageal).  It has even been estimated that Selenium decreases the risk of lung cancer greater than stopping smoking.

The reasons Selenium is so protective vs. cancer are due to its

  • Antioxidant properties (fights free radicals)
  • Ability to repair DNA
  • Regulation of Cancer cell proliferation and Cancer cell death (apoptosis)
  • Ability to inhibit the growth of blood vessels into tumors

Selenium also has been shown to prevent many infections including walking pneumonia and HIV/AIDS.    Similarly,  selenium has positive effects on Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s.

Thyroid problems (Hashimoto’s autoimmunity and Graves’) have been shown to be prevented or improved with Selenium.

Great sources of Selenium include Salmon, Brazil nuts, Sardines, organic eggs, grass fed beef, lamb and turkey, liver, sunflower seeds, onions, garlic, chia seeds and several types of mushrooms (Shiitake, white button).

One caution with Selenium is that excessive supplementation of Selenium has been associated with the development of diabetes.

Selenium should be considered a critical nutrient to not only treat but prevent chronic illness and infections despite its classification as a trace mineral.   Selenium is one of those small factors that has big health effects.