Selenium is a trace mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. Selenium deficiency can occur in areas where the soil contains very low amounts of selenium. Selenium deficiency may affect thyroid function and cause conditions such as Keshan disease. Selenium deficiency is commonly seen in patients on total parenteral nutrition (fed only intravenously). Selenium deficiency is associated with reduced immune cell counts and a higher risk of death for HIV patients.
Sources of Selenium
The selenium content of food varies a lot because it depends heavily on soil conditions. Hence, some researchers argue it is not possible to create a valid list of foods and their selenium content. While soil conditions affect plant foods directly, they also affect animal foods. After all, most animals depend upon plants for their diet.
Nutritional Sources of Selenium
Selenium occurs in staple foods such as corn, wheat, and soybean as selenomethionine. Brazil nuts are the most highly concentrated source of selenium. Some other dietary sources of selenium include brewer's yeast, wheat germ, butter, garlic, grains, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, liver, kidney, shellfish (lobster, oyster, shrimp, scallops), fresh-water and salt-water fish (red snapper, salmon, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, halibut, flounder, herring, smelts), pork, button mushrooms, kelp, molasses, sesame seeds, mollusc, torula yeast, egg, ham, lamb, beef, bacon, veal, brown rice and red grapes.
Herbal sources of selenium are burdock root, alfalfa, fenugreek, fennel seed, catnip, chamomile, garlic, cayenne, nettle, oat-straw, yarrow, peppermint, sarsaparilla, lemongrass, ginseng, hawthorn berry, rose hips and raspberry-leaf.
Nutritional sources of selenium are among the items we consume every day. Hence, it is easier to ensure that selenium deficiency does not affect us.
Benefits of Selenium
Selenium is an antioxidant that is a component of several essential enzymes. It may delay or prevent the onset of cancer and has many anti-aging properties. Selenium also promotes the immune system.
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