Selenium, a trace mineral in the body, is considered to be important for good health. However, it is emphasized that selenium should only be taken in very small amounts in order to avoid developing health risks. For instance, men and women who are 19-years old and older should take only 55 μg everyday. For people who are younger than 19-years old, the daily recommended intake for this mineral is between 20 to 55 μg. For pregnant and lactating women, the recommended intake of selenium is from 60 to 70 μg everyday.

What Selenium Does For the Body

Selenium is considered to be a component of powerful antioxidants and thus helps fight free radicals in the body. This trace mineral also helps in the regulation of thyroid function, as well as helps strengthen the body’s immune function. It has been suggested that selenium helps prevent some cancers.

Studies have suggested that selenium’s biggest contribution to the body’s health is its antioxidant capacity. This mineral controls cell damage, preventing the development of some cancers. It has even been suggested that selenium also acts to prevent early cancer cells from further developing. One particular type of cancer that affected by selenium is prostate cancer. Studies conducted previously showed that men who had high levels of selenium in the blood had a lesser risk of developing prostate cancer. Other cancers which selenium may help to prevent from developing include colon cancer and gastric cancer.

Food Sources of Selenium

Barley is a very good sources of selenium. Other good sources of selenium include meat, seafood, eggs, garlic, chicken, brazil nuts and mushrooms. Selenium may also be present in some plant foods, depending on the soil type and region where these plants have been cultivated. For instance, plant foods grown in the states of North and South Dakota have a relatively high selenium content because the soil in those areas contain high levels of this mineral. In contrast, plant foods grown in countries like Russia and China are known to have low selenium content because the soil there contains very little of this mineral.

Selenium and Heart Disease

Although selenium is an important trace mineral for the prevention of certain cancers, it does not have any significant contributions for the heart. Studies have concluded that selenium is not an effective nutrient in preventing the development of heart diseases. These studies affirm that not all nutrients (especially those taken in through supplements) that are known as antioxidants prevent all types of diseases.