The Minerals Section
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Selenium Part 2
Combatting heart disease is another area where selenium may provide needed help. Because selenium protects the body from the damage caused by oxidation, it is thought to cut down on the amount of oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol), in the system.
Preliminary studies also suggest that the antioxidant effects of selenium may provide protection for those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and HIV/AIDS by helping to lower the body’s levels of free radicals.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for those 11 years and older is 55 micrograms, although pregnant and nursing women need about 10 micrograms more each day. This amount is fairly easy to get through a reasonably balanced diet.
However, it is vital to keep in mind that the RDA's were written with deficiency states in mind, and not for the purpose of securing optimal benefits from nutrional supplementation (in other words, the RDA's for many nutrients are often lower than what many longevity experts would consider to be beneficial for warding off illness and improving life expectancy).
Selenium is found in organ meats, seafood, lean meat, dairy products, and chicken. Whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice, Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, garlic, kelp, molasses, onions, and various herbs are good plant sources of selenium, but only if they are grown in selenium-rich soil.
However, higher intakes of selenium are needed to help fight heart disease and cancer, and some people, including those with chronic gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), have trouble absorbing this mineral.
Selenium supplements come in organic and inorganic form. Organic supplements are derived from yeast, and contain selenomethionine, a form that is thought to be better absorbed by the body. Inorganic selenium supplements contain sodium selenite and sodium selenate, two forms of selenium that are not as easily absorbed by the body.
Human selenium deficiency is rare in the United States, but achieving optimal benefits from selenium by dietary intake alone is difficult.
Selenium deficiency may leave the body more vulnerable to heart disease, hypothyroidism, and a weakened immune system. It has also been associated with exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver and pancreas impairment, and sterility.
While it is true that too much selenium can be harmful, according to Cornell's Dr. Lisk, you would have to consume as much as 2,500 micrograms of selenium daily to achieve toxicity (this is corroborated by Dr. Earl Mindell in "Earl Mindell's New Vitamin Bible", in which he states that "studies have shown toxicity at levels of 2,400 mcg daily"). This is a staggering amount that is unlikely to be achieved by nearly anyone, making selenium-associated risks very very low.
The commonly accepted antiaging dose for selenium is 200 micrograms daily, an amount that, for most individuals cannot be obtained through diet alone, but, rather, through supplemental sources.
Return to Selenium, part 1
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