What can selenium do for those suffering from thyroid problems?
Science, medicine, and nutrition collide all the time. The effects of advances in each of these disciplines yield information that can not only improve the quality of your life, but save it as well.
The new information on selenium and selenium deficiencies is one of the most recent examples of nutrition and medical science working together to unravel the mysteries of the human body. The findings show a clear link between selenium, the immune system, and thyroid health.
Selenium is an essential nutrient. More specifically, it is a mineral found in the dirt. The body cannot produce selenium; all selenium needs must be met by external sources. This does not mean that we need to add a daily helping of dirt to the menu. Plants grown in soil rich in selenium also have high selenium content.
For people who live in areas that have high selenium soils, they usually don’t have a problem meeting their selenium needs. In areas of the world where selenium levels have been depleted, there are higher rates of selenium deficiencies.
The Thyroid Comes Into Play
Just so you don’t walk away from reading this feeling like all you’ve gained is a neat piece of trivia to show off at parties, selenium deficiencies can, and do, have devastating impacts on a person’s health. One of the most common results is thyroid disease. Thyroid problems come in all forms: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroiditis.
The thyroid is a tiny little piece of the body, but it is a powerhouse. This gland produces hormones that affect the entire body: every system, every function, and every process the body performs.
Thyroid diseases can cause sudden and rapid weight gain or loss, hair loss, constipation, lethargy and very low energy levels, swelling, and skin problems. That’s just the top few on a very long list. You really don’t want to live with an unhappy thyroid.
Selenium doesn’t actually come in and act as superman to the thyroid’s Lois Lane. It is more of a side effect issue, but so is the actual root cause of thyroid malfunctions. The real culprit is the immune system.
When selenium levels are low the immune system gets out of balance. One of the things it does is begin to attack the healthy thyroid. This attack causes the thyroid to malfunction as a means of self-defense.
I Want Some Too!
It doesn’t take much selenium to keep the thyroid happy- only 55 micrograms per day. Much more than that can be toxic, so exercise caution when taking a supplement. The best sources are selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.
If you are worried you might be deficient, or have experienced some or all of the symptoms of thyroid disease, ask your doctor to test your selenium levels. It is nice to know that thyroid problems might have a simple fix, and an easy prevention.
Symptoms of Selenium Toxicity
Selenium toxicity is when you have too much selenium in your body. Usually, you won't intake too much selenium from just eating normal foods. It's only when you throw a supplement into play that the risk begins to go up. That's why you should never begin taking a supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Common symptoms of selenium toxicity include vomiting, nausea, nail brittleness or discoloration, foul breath, hair loss, nail loss, fatigue, and irritability. If you have recently started taking a selenium supplement or increased your dose, and you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as you can. Other symptoms can include headache, diarrhea, joint pain, fever, and impaired coordination.
The maximum amount of selenium that the average person can safely take in one day is 400 micrograms. Any more than this and you're putting yourself at risk for selenium toxicity. If you're taking the maximum amount of selenium and still feel it isn't working as it should, talk to your doctor. There may be an underlying issue at hand that hasn't yet been identified.
When consumed appropriately, selenium is a great aid to the body and will help keep you strong. Make sure your entire family eats foods that are rich in selenium, so that you're never selenium deficient!
The content of this article should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always consult with a licensed medical professional before making decisions that affect your health.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©TimeLineArtist/Shutterstock.com.