Selenium is an element that occurs in nature in extremely small concentrations. For this reason, it is recognized as a micronutrient – a nutrient that is needed in a relatively small amount in our body. Due to the low requirement for selenium, it was not a subject of particular interest for many years. Relatively recently, in the second half of the 20th century, with the development of laboratory techniques, scientists learned more about the valuable properties of this element. Today, we know more and more about selenium and its effects, so it is worth taking care to include sufficient intake of this element in our diet.
Functions of Selenium
Selenium, as a trace element, is essential for the proper functioning of the human body. It is a component of enzyme proteins and therefore determines the vital biochemical processes occurring in the body. A very important property of selenium is its ability to degrade reactive oxygen species that are dangerous to health – selenium is a very strong antioxidant. Therefore, its presence is extremely important in the prevention of cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Low selenium concentrations are also associated with increased mortality, impaired immunity, and mood disorders.
In addition, selenium participates in the metabolism of thyroid hormones, and its deficiency may lead to disorders of this important organ. The thyroid is the organ that contains the most of selenium in our organism.
Selenium deficiency has been shown to significantly increase the incidence of thyroid disease. A link between the presence of selenium in the body and the human nervous system has also been proven. According to scientific studies, low selenium levels are significantly associated with a higher incidence of depression and other mental disorders such as anxiety, aggression, and disorientation. What’s more, selenium supplementation is also highly recommended for people who struggle with viral infections.
Recommended intake of Selenium
Due to the fact that selenium occurs in nature in trace amounts, its content in the diet may be insufficient for the daily requirement of this element for many people. The average requirement for adults has been estimated at 45 µg of selenium per day. However, the recommended values vary depending on the region of the world. This is due to differences in selenium content in soil and water in different parts of the world (influenced by climate, soil composition and pH, environmental pollution, and many other factors).