Selenium helps in slowing down the ageing process, improving the oxygen flow to the heart, preventing the abnormal clotting, and stimulating the formation of antibodies. It thus contributes in maintaining a normal growth, development and fertility.
The amount of Selenium required differs for different age groups. Children need to have a daily intake of 20-40 micrograms of Selenium while the adults should have 55 micrograms per day. During pregnancy and at the time of breastfeeding, women require more Selenium, i.e. 60-70 micrograms per day.
The best sources of Selenium for our body are the sea foods mainly fishes, such as, mackerel, tuna, halibut, flounder, herring, smelts etc. and others like oyster, scallops and lobster. Among the plant based foods, the sources include garlic, whole grain, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. Brewer’s yeast and butter are also good sources of Selenium.
In the body, Selenium is stored mainly in the liver, kidney, pancreas, testes and spleen.
Lack of Selenium contributes to some of the major disorders of our body. Its deficiency contributes to the causes for heart failure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), thyroid disorder, viral infections and psoriasis (a skin disease where the skin becomes itchy, thick and red). The low level of Selenium increases the risk of prostate cancer.
An overdose of Selenium leads to a body condition known as selenosis. The symptoms for this disorder are hair loss, nausea, irritability and fatigue.
Excessive smoking, drinking alcohol and taking birth control pills leads to Selenium deficiency in our body. When the body suffers from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, they prevent the body from absorbing enough Selenium.
Selenium prevents ageing by damaging the highly reactive atoms or group of atoms known as free radicals. These free radicals are very harmful for our body because it damages the cell membranes and the DNA. But since Selenium is an antioxidant, it eliminates these free radicals, stopping them from the rapid process of ageing that it causes to the human body. With Vitamin E, Selenium becomes more effective as an antioxidant. It also helps in retaining the elasticity of the body tissues.