Selenium is one of the many nutritionally essential trace minerals the body needs to function properly.
As it is a trace mineral, it is only needed in small amounts by the body. It is most commonly known as an antioxidant mineral and has a more potent effect when combined along with vitamin E. As an antioxidant, it performs the task of fighting the damage caused by free radicals, which attach our body on a constant basis. Free radicals are thought to be responsible for damage to our DNA and cell membranes and are linked to conditions such as cancer, heart disease and aging. An antioxidant is something which has the ability to prevent or reduce the damage caused by the damaging effects of free radicals.
Much of the following claims of the benefits of selenium can be considered to be subjective, however, these are beliefs that have been observed by many so considerable consideration should be given to the validity of the advantages of selenium.
Selenium and Heart Disease
It is believed that low selenium levels can be a contributing factor for heart failure. Also, atherosclerosis appears to be worse for people with low levels of selenium.
Selenium and Cancer
Higher risk of death from cancer has been observed in people who have low levels of selenium in their body. It has been observed that areas which have high levels of selenium in the soil (and consequently in the food) will result in low incidents of cancer by the inhabitants of these parts of the world. Conversely, low selenium levels have been observed in individuals who have cancer. Studies have shown mixed results, but it is believed that people who take selenium generally have a lower chance of death as a result of cancer. There have been many studies and there continue to be many studies showing whether selenium is effective in its ability to protect from cancer.
Selenium and Immune Function
There are many supplements on the market today which are intended to improve our immune systems. Studies suggest that selenium too has immune enhancing properties. In fact, it has been suggested it is needed by the body in order for the immune system to function properly. Selenium, combined with other minerals, helps to build up our white blood cells. White blood cells are used by our body to fight off illness and infections.
Selenium and Asthma
There is evidence that individuals who have asthma have lower blood levels of selenium. A study demonstrated that people who took selenium, over a period of time, had reduced symptoms compared with people who took a placebo.