This is a continuation of articles about the necessity of and the benefits of selenium in our diets.
An earlier blog related how taking Statin Drugs (cholesterol reducing drugs) damages the biochemical pathway necessary for selenium to be taken up in our bodies.
This articles discusses the benefits of plant based selenium in our diets:
Selenium is essential for human health as a trace mineral. It occurs in many plant foods, with the amount depending on how much selenium is in the soil where the plants grow. For instance, soil in the high plains region of the United States has very high levels of selenium, and people living in these areas also generally have high selenium intake, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Plant-based selenium provides several important benefits.
The body needs selenium for the functioning of enzymes known as selenoproteins, as explained by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Selenoproteins are essential for normal growth and development, as well as for metabolism, because they help regulate thyroid function. Selenoproteins also appear to be important for healthy blood vessels, plasma, muscles and sperm.
Protection Against Cancer
Because selenium is an antioxidant, it can protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals, which is associated with the development of cancer. Selenium may also prevent or slow tumor growth. Death rates from certain types of cancer are lower among people with high blood levels or intake of selenium, according to the NIH, as evidenced by observational studies. These types of diseases include colon, lung and prostate cancer. Additionally, the occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer is significantly higher in U.S. regions with low soil selenium.
Protection Against Cardiovascular Disease
Low antioxidant intake may be associated with a higher occurrence of heart disease, as explained by the NIH. The oxidized form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol, is linked to plaque accumulation in coronary arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Protection Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study published in the Summer 1996 issue of “Biological Trace Element Research” found that selenium plasma levels in 60 rheumatoid arthritis patients were significantly lower than selenium plasma levels in 60 people without the disorder, indicating selenium may protect against rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, a study published in the January 1998 issue of “The Analyst” found that rheumatoid arthritis patients experienced significant reduction of pain and morning stiffness after taking selenium and vitamin E supplements.
Immune System Benefits
Selenium deficiency is associated with negative effects in people with HIV and AIDS, according to the NIH. HIV and AIDS destroy the immune system, and oxidative stress may worsen the disease effects. HIV and AIDS patients with selenium deficiency show reduced immune cell counts, more rapid disease progression and a higher risk of death, according to the NIH.