Selenium - A Special Friend to Women - Information on Deficiency, Benefits, Food Sources
Selenium acts as a micronutrient or trace element in the human body. Its distribution in the earth's crust varies from place to place. Its content of water varies even more greatly. The amount present in foods also varies widely. Males appear to have a greater need for this mineral. About half the supply of their bodies is concentrated in the testicles and parts of the seminal ducts adjacent to the prostrate gland.
Selenium is a grey, crystalline element of the sulphur group. It is an antioxidant and its biological activity is closely related to vitamin E. It is excreted in the semen.
|Recommended Daily Allowance - Selenium|
|Children||20 - 30 mcg|
|Infants||10 - 15 mcg|
|Pregnant Women||65 mcg|
|Lactating Women||75 mcg|
Selenium Benefits - Functions in the Body
Selenium acts with vitamin E as a non-specific antioxidant to protect cell membranes and tissues. Both of them prevent or slow down the ageing process and hardening of tissues. Selenium aids in maintaining youthful elasticity in tissues.
Selenium has been found beneficial in the prevention and treatment of Keshan disease. This is a syndrome endemic to the Keshan province in China where the soil is deficient in selenium. Keshan disease is characterised by degeneration of the muscle fibres of the heart. During their child-bearing years, women are particularly susceptible to this disease. Selenium binds cadmium and other metal's and mitigates their toxic effects.
This mineral also helps in the regeneration of the liver after damage, especially by cirrhosis. It is useful in alleviating hot flushes and menopausal distress. It helps in the prevention and treatment of dandruff. It is believed to neutralise certain carcinogens and provide protection from some types of cancer.
Selenium Rich Food Sources
Wholegrain cereals like wheat germ, barley, and wholewheat bread are the best sources of selenium.
Selenium Deficiency Symptoms
Low levels of selenium put people at higher risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and other conditions associated with increased freeradical damage, including premature ageing and cataract formation.
Selenium Side Effects - Precautions
Selenium toxicity occurs in animals, but human beings who have consumed vegetables grown in soil containing high selenium content, show no ill effects. Selenium poisoning has been reported due to ingestion of water containing large amounts of the metal. In rare cases, it can result in patchy baldness (alopecia), abnormal nails, emotional instability, and lassitude.