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Selenium is an essential mineral that functions as an antioxidant and also supports the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
What is Selenium?
Selenium is a trace mineral that, while only required in small amounts, is vital for the benefits that it provides.
It is especially important for fighting oxidative damage in the body. It also supports optimal thyroid function. The thyroid stores more selenium than any other organ and requires it for thyroid hormone production. Research has also linked selenium deficiency to the rise in antibodies that can happen when an autoimmune disease of the thyroid begins.
Selenium is also an important nutrient for male fertility since the antioxidant function of the mineral protects sperm from free radical damage.
Like other foods that contain dietary minerals, the amount of selenium that is in a food product varies based on the health of the soil that the food was grown in.
Health Benefits of Selenium
- Supports physiological stress responses
- Promotes normal thyroid hormone production
- Supports healthy immune function
- Provides antioxidant support
Food Sources of Selenium
Selenium is found in several food sources, including:
- Brazil nuts
- Yellowfin tuna
- Cottage cheese
- Brown rice
Selenium is widely available as a dietary supplement. It can be found in multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, antioxidant formulations, or as a standalone nutrient.
Most people in the US get enough selenium to prevent deficiency, although there’s a difference between adequate intake and optimal intake. Adult males tend to naturally consume more than adult females, yet it is women who have a significantly higher risk of developing hypothyroidism or autoimmune thyroid disorders. When low levels of selenium are paired with high levels of stress, this may produce a perfect storm for the development of inflammatory or autoimmune illnesses.
While selenium has important health benefits as an antioxidant, more is not always better. Supplementing with too much selenium can lead to oxidative damage and may even trigger reactions with insulin and glucose that foster diabetes-related conditions.
People at risk for selenium deficiency or low levels include:
- Those receiving total parenteral nutrition without additional selenium support
- People who have autoimmune thyroid disorders (Hashimoto’s)
- People who are receiving kidney dialysis
- People who have HIV
Today’s Simple Step
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, and it only takes a few to get your needed amount for the day. If you’re allergic to nuts or unable to find Brazil nuts, you can still obtain selenium from plenty of other sources. Choose a food that is high in selenium and be sure it finds its way onto your plate today and regularly to support optimal selenium levels.
These Braised Turkey Drumsticks with Sage and Dates are a great way to have selenium-rich food on your plate. Turkey also provides healthy protein and is easy to digest. Pair these drumsticks with your favorite vegetable and some healthy fat for a delicious, nutrient-dense meal.