Selenium is an element that was discovered and introduced to the periodic table in 1817. In its metallic form Selenium (Se) conducts electricity, like many other metals. However in 1873, something interesting and different was discovered about the grey metallic form of Se. Its conductivity is greater in light than in darkness. Interesting!

Later it was discovered that trace amounts of selenium in animal and human diets are essential. Selenium gained recognition in recent years because of its addition to the list of nutritional antioxidants. Antioxidants offer protection against some of our toughest diseases as well on the affects of aging. Selenium is a component of several enzymes that reduce the presence of harmful antioxidants in the body.

How Does Selenium Act to Fight Oxidation and Other Illness?
In 1973, it was discovered that selenium aids conditions that are marked by both selenium and vitamin E deficiency. Both molecules have an antioxidant function. As a part of the enzyme gluthathione peroxidase (SeGPx) selenium prevents free radical formation and breaks down peroxide into water. Research from the 1980s and 1990s shows that selenium deficiency may empower certain viruses. For example, damage was reduced when a virus causing heart lesions was treated with selenium supplementation in mice.

Selenium and Cancer

Some studies indicate that deaths from lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers are lower among people with higher blood levels or intake of selenium. Incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer is much higher in areas of the United States where there is low selenium content in the soil. The effects of selenium supplements on seven types of skin cancers were studied from 1983 through the early 1990s. Daily selenium supplements did not affect the recurrence of skin cancer, but selenium supplementation was found to reduce the occurrence of and death from total cancers.

Selenium affects cancer risk in two ways. Its antioxidant properties help protect the body from free radical damage. Also, selenium supplementation prevents and slows tumor growth, because it enhances immune cell activity and suppresses the development of blood vessels to tumor sights.

Dietary Sources of Selenium
– Wheat germ (11 mcg)
– Whole wheat bread (66 mcg)
– Oats (56 mcg)
– Turnips (27 mcg)
– Brazil nuts (103 mcg)
– Bran (63 mcg)
– Brown rice (39 mcg)
– Garlic (25 mcg)

Diseases Linked to Selenium Deficiency
– Cancer
– Heart disease
– Keshan disease (a heart disease common in regions with low Se soil in China)

Beneficial Effects
– Antioxidant activity (SeGPx)
– Thyroid hormone Production
– Antagonistic to heavy metals

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Cadmium
  • Aluminum

Principal Uses

In combination with vitamin E, selenium prevents free radical damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA.
– Anti-cancer
– Enhanced immune function
– Fighting cardiovascular and circulatory disease
– Inflammatory conditions

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis

– Cataracts
– Pregnancy/SIDS

Is Selenium a Supplement for You?
Selenium is absorbed by many vegetables through the soil and is present in various meats, depending on the region where vegetables are grown and animals graze. Because of the safety issues, it is advisable that anyone seeking to maintain a balanced level of selenium in their system consult with a professional before introducing dietary changes or taking supplements that alter selenium levels in the system.

If you are interested in seeking the benefits of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention, protection against the toxicity of cisplatin chemotherapy, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions, please contact our office. The professionals at Integrative Med Solutions are able to work with you on a personal basis to construct a dosage appropriate for your system. Selenomethionine and high selenium yeast are preferred forms for treatment and are available through a modality to suit your needs at IMS.

“selenium” from The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008.
“Selenium: Antioxidant and Cancer Quencher” by Stephanie Briggs, Ph.D. in Nutrition Science News, March 1999.
“Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Selenium”

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