What is selenium and why does our body need it?
Selenium is a trace mineral that is actually quite rare.1 It contributes to healthy immune function, DNA synthesis, reproductive health and thyroid hormone synthesis. 2,3,4 This mineral also protects against certain illnesses 5 and is necessary for good health. The human body only needs it in small, frequent amounts.
It’s estimated that 1 billion people on this planet don’t consume enough bioavailable selenium.6 Selenium is unique given that foods high in this trace mineral accumulate their supply from the soil they were grown in.
The connection between selenium and soil
The amount of selenium in foods depends on geographical location, climate conditions, the presence of organic matter in soil, geological conditions.1,4,7 Ultimately these variables all contribute to the level of selenium in soil, which is how plant foods receive this mineral.2 Food processing methods also greatly affect selenium content.7
The world’s supply of selenium is very small compared to other minerals because it’s a byproduct and cannot be mined directly.1
Plant foods are the most popular source of selenium around the world. However, areas with low selenium levels in their soil, often result in deficiencies for people in that geographic location. An example of this would be in Russia or China, where selenium is absent from the region’s soil. Due to the residing population eating mostly local foods, selenium deficiencies are much more common in those areas.3 In contrast, certain parts of America have very high levels of selenium in their soil, which results in healthy levels of this trace mineral among local populations.8
Selenium deficiency has been associated with male infertility4, an increased risk of iodine deficiency, 9,10 cancer and heart disease.11
Deficiencies of this mineral have also been shown to cause weaker defence against influenza viral infections.12
Brazil nuts are very high in selenium, as well as whole grains, leafy greens and other plant foods. Unfortunately, the content of selenium depends on the soil it was grown in, so brazil nuts grown in areas where selenium is prevalent, will yield the most selenium-rich nuts. Regions that contain soil rich in selenium include Canada, the US, and Japan.1
It’s also important to consider buying organic foods to ensure they have been grown in the healthiest soil conditions possible. Read more about the benefits of organic farming here.
Always supplement your diet with the best quality foods available to you. Due to the lack of fresh, local produce that’s available year round, many people need extra help. This is where a high-quality supplement comes into play.
Our PureFood A to Z is made solely from 24 organic fruits, vegetables and superfoods and nothing else. Due to the gentle production methods, we use, and the potent amount of organic produce in every teaspoon, this powder contains impressively high levels of vitamins and minerals. This includes 25% of your recommended daily amount of selenium per teaspoon.
Many people ask why they would need above 100% of a mineral or vitamin. The truth is for most of us living in the modern 21st century, the quality of food we eat isn’t as good as it used to be, and we’re faced with many daily stressors that lead to nutritional deficiencies. Prolonged nutritional deficiencies leave the body susceptible to chronic illnesses and disease.13 So, less nutrition + more stress = an unhealthy body. This is why we created an entire line of supplements to provide fast nutrition in a bioavailable format. Perfect for the 21st-century go-getter!
To learn more about how stress increases your nutritional needs, read our eBook; Master Your Metabolism.
2 Mariotti, F (Ed.) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention (2017) London, UK: Academic Press (pp.538 paragraph 4)
5 Mariotti, F (Ed.) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention (2017) London, UK: Academic Press (pp.539 paragraph 2)
7 Mariotti, F (Ed.) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention (2017) London, UK: Academic Press (pp.538 paragraph 5)
8 Longnecker MP, Taylor PR, Levander OA, Howe M, Veillon C, McAdam PA, Patterson KY, Holden JM, Stampfer MJ, Morris JS, Willett WC. Selenium in diet, blood, and toenails in relation to human health in a seleniferous area. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:1288-94. [PubMed abstract]
9 Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Bowman B, Russell R, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 9th ed. Washington, DC: International Life Sciences Institute; 2006:480-97
10 Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:711-8
11 Combs GF., Jr Se in global food systems. Br J Nutr. 2001;85:517–47.