What is Selenium?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Selenium is a non-metallic element that carries the chemical atomic number 34. Commonly identified with the chemical symbol of SE, it is an example of an element that is considered to the important in the proper function of the body. Selenium does a number of things in the body, and many foods can be consumed in order to ensure there is a proper amount of this important chemical element in the daily diet.

Selenium is a mineral found in many foods, including mushrooms.
Selenium is a mineral found in many foods, including mushrooms.

First identified by Swedish chemist Jons Berzelius in 1817, selenium is among the chemical elements that help the body to make efficient use of oxygen. Working in tandem with vitamin E, it helps to remove toxins from the body. The element also contains properties that are thought to promote healthy chromosome development and function within the body, which is necessary to fight off the development of various types of cancers.

Crab is a good source of selenium.
Crab is a good source of selenium.

The thyroid gland also benefits from the presence of selenium, with the element helping to regulate the functions of the gland. In fact, it is thought to help in promoting the proper function of many organs in the body, which makes it ideal for maintaining healthy blood pressure and general heart health. Its high protein component also makes the nutrient essential for the maintenance of healthy skin.

Organic vegetables can be a good way to add dietary selenium.
Organic vegetables can be a good way to add dietary selenium.

Deficiencies of selenium in the body can lead to several severe health problems. For example, lack of enough in the diet can lead to the development of Keshan disease. Keshan disease involves the weakening of the heart, due to a decreased ability to efficiently pump blood through the body, thus lowering the oxygen flow to vital organs. As the thyroid gland is impacted by the lack of enough selenium, it is not unusual for the individual to experience chronic fatigue, a sense of having to expend more energy to handle even commonplace mental tasks, and a decrease in sexual function and desire.

Garlic is a good source of selenium.
Garlic is a good source of selenium.

Fortunately, a balanced diet will help to ensure that the 55 micrograms of selenium that are required daily are obtained with no problem. However, it is important to note that vegetables that are grown in soil that is deficient in this element will not provide as much of the nutrient as required to meet the minimum daily consumption. Organic vegetables are often a good way to ensure that there is enough selenium obtained from fruits and vegetables. In addition, Brazil nuts, various types of fresh and salt-water fish, and eggs are also excellent sources. Among seafood selections, crabs and lobsters are especially good sources. Along with foods, it is also possible to purchase supplements in health food and herb shops.

The thyroid gland benefits from the presence of selenium, which helps to regulate thyroid functions.
The thyroid gland benefits from the presence of selenium, which helps to regulate thyroid functions.
Signs of selenium deficiency include fatigue and muscle weakness.
Signs of selenium deficiency include fatigue and muscle weakness.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon295201

Selenium can be easily attained every day by eating just two brazil nuts a day.

vogueknit17

Selenium is an important nutrient that is easily attained through foods. While there are some good supplements, it is probably a good idea to try to get it through foods first- with so many good natural sources, if you eat a balanced diet you are likely to get enough.

sevenseas

Eating foods rich in selenium helps memory too. Tests have shown that adequate amounts of selenium keep cognitive skills sharper.

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