Selenium is a trace mineral, meaning that we only need a small amount of it, but that is essential for humans; it is therefore important to consume foods containing selenium regularly..
Selenium plays an important role in the normal functioning of the immune system, takes part in antioxidant activity that defends against free radical damage and plays a key role in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Selenium is also involved in protecting the body from infection and has antioxidative properties, which means it protects cells from oxidative damage. It also plays a role in the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland, and in the production of DNA (the molecule that makes up our genes).
Selenium deficiencies are believed to be uncommon amongst healthy people in the USA. However, due to inadequate selenium levels in European soils, selenium deficiencies are more common in Europe. Individuals with health conditions, such as HIV, Crohn’s disease and other disorders are frequently associated with having low levels that can lead to deficiency. Suffering from a selenium deficiency is correlated with an increased risk of health problems such as infertility, poor immune function and cognitive decline. Symptoms can also include reproductive issues, muscle weakness, fatigue, brain fog, thyroid dysfunction and hair loss.
That being said, excessive doses of selenium through dietary supplements can also be harmful and may cause reactions such as bad breath, fever, nausea, liver complications, kidney problems and heart problems. Extremely high levels, albeit very rare, can also potentially lead to fatal complications such as heart attacks and respiratory depression.
In athletic performance, minerals play a crucial role in muscle contraction, normal heartbeat, oxygen transport, bone and tissue health. Physical sport training increases the body’s requirement for selenium. Thus, selenium forms a part of glutathione, which then helps protect against exercise-induced oxidative stress and cell damage. Furthermore, selenium may help the body recover from overtraining and may enhance recovery after intense strength training.
Selenium can be found in many foods and research suggests that consuming foods high in selenium can support your overall health and maintain your hormones at healthy levels. Selenium rich foods include Brazil nuts, fish, seafood (e.g. whelk, mussel, octopus, oyster), liver, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, wheat germ, oat bran, parboiled rice, whole-wheat bread and vegetables (e.g. shiitake mushrooms).
In conclusion, our selenium levels impact many aspects of our mental and physical health. In order to make sure that your selenium levels are balanced and steady, make sure to test your levels and to evaluate how you can make the right changes to rebalance your body and mind.