What it does… selenium
What is it?
An essential trace mineral that is a key component of selenoproteins, which are involved in many processes, including thyroid function, fertility and metabolism. It’s absorbed by plants from the soil, but low levels in UK soil have led to concern that we don’t get enough from diet. Around half of women have inadequate levels.
What does it do?
Boosts brain power: Low levels are associated with poor cognition, according to a review in The Lancet.
Boosts mood: In a New Zealand study of 978 young adults, optimal selenium blood levels were associated with reduced risk of depression
Reduces cancer risk: Several studies have shown adequate selenium protects against prostate, lung, liver, thyroid, colorectal and bladder cancers.
Protects the heart: A meta-analysis of 25 studies showed a link between low selenium status and the risk of heart disease.
Reduces risk of thyroid disease. Several studies have shown that selenium supplements are effective against Hashimoto’s – the most common auto-immune thyroid disease.
When do I need it?
Daily whatever your age or stage.
How do I get it?
Eat: Brazil nuts are star performers – just 25g a day can supply you with what you need. Other good sources include chicken, lean meat, eggs, kidneys, canned tuna and shellfish, and whole wheat.
Take: a supplement at 200ug daily dose.
Be careful if…
Avoid if pregnant and seek advice if taking any other medication. Excess selenium can be harmful and cause hair loss, fatigue and diarrhoea.