Selenium is a mineral that combats the development of harmful substances in the body. Selenium is important for the liver and thyroid. It protects red blood cells from damage. Selenium is an antioxidant: it protects the cells in the body from free radicals. Free radicals play a role in aging processes.
Selenium is found in almost all foods. Cereals are generally higher in selenium than vegetables. Organ meats (such as liver and kidney), fish and shellfish and Brazil nuts are also high in selenium. In animal products, selenium is often linked to protein. In animal and vegetable products, selenium is found both in organic form and inorganic form. The organic form is better absorbed by the body than the inorganic form.
- Good for nails and hair: it keeps hair strong and shiny and contributes to normal hair growth.
- Good for the quality of sperm.
- Positively affects the immune system.
- Helps in protecting body cells against external influences, such as air pollution, UV radiation and free radicals.
- Detoxifies the liver.
- Good for the thyroid; it is essential for the production of thyroid hormones.
- May protect against the development of prostate cancer.
A shortage of selenium creates an early poor immune system and there may be a disruption of the functioning of the heart muscle.
In case of a surplus of selenium, hair and nails become brittle and loss of hair and nails may occur.
- The amount of selenium in vegetable products depends on the selenium content of the soil.
- Selenium was discovered in 1817 by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius.
- The term ‘selenium’ is derived from the Greek word selènè (moon).
- In the periodic table of elements, selenium has the symbol Se and atomic number 34. The color is gray.
- Selenium is a trace element. This means that only very small quantities are needed (micrograms to milligrams).