“Magic” Mineral Supports Your Heart, Thyroid, Mind and More
I’ve written to you before about an underactive thyroid. It’s an easy problem for doctors to miss. The signs may be there, but they could be caused by almost anything.
If your thyroid is underactive, you may feel tired or weak… have sore joints or muscles… or put on a few extra pounds. You also may feel cold or constipated or have high cholesterol.
Your body requires iodine to make thyroid hormones. So many people – including many doctors – think of iodine first when they suspect an underactive thyroid. But there may be another culprit – one that’s as easy to miss as an underactive thyroid itself.
Your body needs several minerals to function smoothly. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are familiar examples. But your body also needs small amounts of some other minerals. And we still don’t know everything they do.
Selenium is one of these “trace minerals.” Your body uses it to make more than two-dozen enzymes. But we only know what half those enzymes do.
But we do know selenium supports thyroid health. And since your thyroid gland controls your metabolism, getting enough selenium is critical.
In one recent study, scientists compared 440 healthy people to 355 others with underactive thyroids. They found that the underactive group had much lower selenium levels.1 A French team compared 1,900 adults and found the same thing.2
In other words, if your selenium levels are higher, your chances of having thyroid trouble are lower.
But selenium is important for more than thyroid health.
For example, it’s a powerful antioxidant. Selenium is the basis for at least five forms of glutathione – one of the most potent antioxidants in your body.
And that may help explain why selenium supports your health in so many ways. For example, Israeli doctors recently showed it helps promote healthy arteries.
The researchers gave an antioxidant “cocktail” – including selenium – to a group of volunteers. They gave a second group a placebo. After 6 months, the antioxidant group had more flexible arteries – along with higher HDL (good) cholesterol. The placebo group didn’t
An Italian team tested another supplement – also including selenium – on people with skin problems. A second group received a look-alike placebo. Again, the antioxidant group enjoyed improvements the placebo group didn’t experience.4
Selenium promotes immune system health, too. Your body needs adequate selenium to trigger a healthy immune response. And to keep your immune system from over-reacting.
Selenium may even play a role in keeping your mind sharp. In a recent study, Turkish doctors found low levels of selenium – and certain other minerals – in people suffering mental decline.5
You don’t need a lot of selenium to get its benefits. The government recommends a least 55 mcg (micrograms) a day. But I think twice that amount may be a better target.
Fish and shellfish are the richest sources. One serving of salmon provides about 70% of your daily needs. Of course, you probably shouldn’t eat fish every day. So taking a natural multivitamin with minerals will help ensure you get enough of this important nutrient.
One word of caution, though. Over time, in large amounts – over 400 mcg a day – selenium can be toxic. But Brazil nuts are the only source I know of with levels that high (over 500 mcg per ounce). Make them an occasional treat, and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 Kandhro, G.A., et al, “Effects of selenium supplementation on iodine and thyroid hormone status in a selected population with goitre in Pakistan,” Clin Lab. 2011;57(7-8):575-585.
2 Derumeaux, H., et al, “Association of selenium with thyroid volume and echostructure in 35- to 60-year-old French adults,” Eur J Endocrinol. Mar 2003;148(3):309-315.
3 Shargorodsky, M., et al, “Effect of long-term treatment with antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium) on arterial compliance, humoral factors and inflammatory markers in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors,” Nutr Metab (Lond). Jul 6, 2010;7:55.
4 De Luca, C., et al, “Coenzyme Q(10), vitamin E, selenium, and methionine in the treatment of chronic recurrent viral mucocutaneous infections,” Nutrition. Nov 11, 2011. [Epub ahead of print]
5 Vural, H., et al, “Alterations of plasma magnesium, copper, zinc, iron and selenium concentrations and some related erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activities in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” J Trace Elem Med Biol. Jul 2010;24(3):169-173.