Selenium is an essential trace element for our body, which cannot produce it on its own. As an essential trace element, selenium, therefore, plays different roles in the functioning of the organism. It participates in particular in the functioning of the immune system, in spermatogenesis, and the maintenance of nails and hair. 

Selenium also participates in the normal function of the thyroid and protects cells from oxidative stress and free radicals. It is also an antioxidant mineral salt, which is involved in blood thinning.

Let’s take a look together at the main benefits of selenium.

A powerful antioxidant trace

Selenium is a naturally occurring antioxidant compound that helps optimize various body functions. But antioxidants are primarily known for their effectiveness against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. 

The latter cause accelerated cellular aging and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as the risk of developing cancer

The antioxidant properties of selenium combine with those of the main antioxidant vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E, provide an excellent way to defend our cells and keep the organism healthy.

Strengthen the immune system and its natural defenses

The antioxidant properties of this trace element stand out in strengthening the body’s natural defenses. In other words, selenium helps boost the immune system and keep it functioning optimally.

Researchers agree that natural antioxidants are associated with the proper functioning of the human body’s immune system. However, there are only a limited number of clinical trials on the effects of supplementation. 

Nonetheless, it is known that a complementary supply of selenium makes it possible to improve the immune response. It is involved in several markers of immunity, but there is no precise dosage in this context.

Prevent cardiovascular risk

The epidemiological data currently available to us show that selenium deficiency is generally associated with cardiovascular disorders. It is known that the antioxidant properties of this trace element help to fight against the harmful effects of free radicals on the cardiovascular system. 

Therefore, it allows us to protect ourselves from the risks that these imply for the heart. However, its effectiveness here is limited; other factors come into consideration in cardiovascular risk. 

A trace element against cancer

The benefits of selenium in terms of cancer prevention and treatment are numerous. And there is no shortage of studies on this subject. According to one of them, daily intake of selenium reduces the incidence of cancer by almost 50%. Of course, its effectiveness varies depending on the types of cancer in question. Indeed, it is particularly effective against prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer

Another study demonstrated the existence of a protective effect of selenium against prostate cancer.

Of course, cancer research continues and many more studies have been published or are still being done on this subject. More data is needed to understand how selenium works, and to what extent. 

Nonetheless, the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study indicates a reduction of more than 40% in mortality from cancer in people who take selenium every day.

In addition, the incidence was also reduced by 25% in these same people.

Fights against viruses

Selenium is a component of certain enzymes that are responsible for neutralizing pro-inflammatory oxidative stress in the body. Viruses in particular cause massive oxidative stress. Therefore, selenium can mitigate the effects of viral infections via the enzymes mentioned.

In addition, selenium-containing enzymes slow down the multiplication of viruses. In the case of selenium deficiency, on the other hand, viruses can spread faster and the corresponding infections can take a serious course.

Selenium also specifically improves the performance of the immune system, so that pathogens can be eliminated more quickly in the presence of selenium. Some harmless viruses can also mutate faster in selenium deficiency, thus turning into pathogens that cause strong diseases.

In April 2020, a study was also published in which it was found that in regions (China) with selenium-rich soils, the cure rate of Covid-19 patients was higher. In areas with selenium-poor soils, on the other hand, the death rate was increased.

Selenium protects the thyroid gland from inflammation

As you may already know, the activity of glutathione peroxidase depends on selenium, so that a selenium deficiency can also lead to the thyroid gland not being sufficiently protected from the free radicals.

Thus, these substances can attack and damage the thyroid tissue unhindered.

A correspondingly high-dose amount of selenium (prescribed by your doctor) can curb the resulting inflammatory processes, so that the self-healing powers of the body become active again and can contribute to the regeneration of the tissue.

Selenium can also be helpful in the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this disease, the immune system produces antibodies, so-called anti-thyroperoxidase antibodies (anti-TPO-AK), which are directed against the body’s own thyroid tissue.

As early as 2002, a study was able to show that the level of these antibodies can be significantly reduced by a daily administration of 200 micrograms of selenium.

Selenium improves mood

People with low selenium levels are often plagued by anxiety, self-doubt, and even depressed moods. They feel overwhelmed, cannot concentrate, and tire very quickly, which understandably significantly limits the quality of life of those affected.

However, targeted selenium administration can seriously change the well-being of those affected – which has been clearly proven by various studies.

In a double-blind study, for example, half of the subjects received 100 micrograms of selenium daily for a period of 5 weeks, the other half received a placebo.

In the selenium subjects, the mood improved noticeably in contrast to the second group. This positive effect of selenium on the psyche has also been impressively proven in other studies.

The explanation for the mood-enhancing effect of selenium is simple. On the one hand, its antioxidant and heavy metal binding effect is of course also noticeable in the central nervous system, and on the other hand, selenium is involved in the formation of some brain messengers (e.B. serotonin).

It is no coincidence that this messenger substance is referred to as the happiness hormone because it ensures inner peace, satisfaction, and balance.

Strengthens nail and hair

Selenium is involved in maintaining the health of hair and nails. A deficiency in this trace element can cause abnormal hair loss, and make the nails more fragile and brittle. Thus, ensuring sufficient intake of selenium each day allows for stronger, more resistant, and more beautiful hair and nails. 

Adjuvant treatment for AIDS

Some clinical studies show the effectiveness of selenium supplementation in the treatment of AIDS. People who take selenium at the same time as their treatment see the disease progress less quickly than those who do not. Selenium could therefore be considered an inexpensive adjunctive treatment for AIDS that is accessible to the greatest number of people.

Selenium strengthens fertility and protects against miscarriage

Selenium insufficiency is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage in animals, and women who miscarry in the first trimester are more likely to have low selenium levels. Because selenium is required for the production and growth of sperm, it has an effect on male fertility.

Subfertile males who took selenium supplements for three months experienced a substantial improvement in sperm motility, according to research.

Reduces asthma symptoms

Again, elevated levels of oxidative stress and inflammation can worsen symptoms in asthma patients. Therefore, those who have significant amounts of selenium in their blood benefit from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers.

High levels of selenium in the blood, achieved by eating foods rich in this nutrient, are closely related to improving asthma symptoms and reducing the number of corticosteroid medications.

Increases longevity

The importance of selenium for human health and lifespan has been demonstrated in studies. If you want to live a long and healthy life, selenium is a mineral you should include in your diet.

Selenium has also been investigated for the treatment of a variety of ailments, including asthma, arthritis, thyroid illness, and heart disease. As people get older, their chances of contracting certain diseases rise. As a result, selenium ingestion can protect the body and contribute to a long life.

It protects our cells and defends our eyes

As mentioned many times before, selenium has an antioxidant effect because it allows our body to produce “glutathione peroxidase”, an enzyme that, together with vitamin E, protects cell membranes from oxidation caused by free radicals. It would thus delay the development of AMD (macular degeneration of the retina), a disease linked to oxidative stress and the leading cause of poor vision in people over 50 years of age.

It helps detoxify the body

Selenium helps the body to clean itself, especially in the event of poisoning due to heavy metals: mercury, arsenic, lead. Selenium also neutralizes toxic waste linked to tobacco or alcohol. It would also prevent the formation of atheroma plaques: plaques of fat on the inner wall of the arteries, mainly due to bad cholesterol, and which, over time, cause them to harden and narrow.

Has an insulin-like action

Selenium can mimic the functioning of insulin and therefore stimulate mechanisms such as glucose absorption, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, and the functioning of the pentose phosphate pathway, or pathway. of Warburg-Dickens-Horecker.

However, taking a supplement long-term could also increase the risk of insulin resistance, type 215 diabetes, high cholesterol, and therefore the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, in people without deficiency.

Decreased risk of preeclampsia

In a 2010 study, Iranian researchers demonstrated the benefits of selenium supplementation up to 100 µg per day against the risk of pre-eclampsia ‌in pregnant women, which significantly decreased.

Serena Page

A journalism student at the University of Florida, Serena writes mostly about health and health-related subjects. On her time off, she enjoys binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix or going on a weekend get-away.