Selenium health benefits

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Antioxidant activity is one of the primary health benefits of selenium.

Numerous health benefits are being found and attributed to selenium, an essential trace mineral, including protection from cardiovascular diseases, protection from cancers (especially prostate cancer), enhancement of immunity, slowing down of progress of HIV/AIDS, promotion of thyroid activity and protection from goiter and neutralization of toxic substances.

Selenium: antioxidant activity

In human body selenium forms selenoproteins like Glutathione peroxidases (GPx).
Although each GPx is a separate distinct selenoprotein, all of them are antioxidant enzymes seeking out and reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Reactive oxygen species like lipid hydroperoxides (LOOH) and hydrogen peroxide derivatives (hydroxyl radicals, peroxyl radicals and oxyl radicals) potentially have damaging effect on the cell membranes, DNA and other cell structures containing lipids.
GPx antioxidant enzymes react with these free radicals and reduce them into harmless alcohols and water.

Selenium protection from heart diseases

Low serum level of trace mineral selenium is associated with cardiomyopathy (Keshan disease) and selenium supplements are found to cure this disorder.
One of its health benefits is in making the blood 'thin' with decrease in clotting of blood in the blood vessels; thus lowering the possibility of stroke and heart attacks.
This trace mineral contributes to cardiovascular function by increasing the HDL cholesterol and decreasing the LDL cholesterol and also by inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation.

Selenium health : protection from cancer

There are well documented initial results of health benefits of selenium in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
There is clear evidence associating low serum levels of this mineral with increased risk of occurrence of prostate cancer.
Some positive results are seen in preventing cancer of cervix, colorectal region, ovaries, liver and lungs.
Studies also have shown the health benefits like reduced cancer mortality in regions where more selenium is found in food.

Selenium immunity boosting effects

Its health benefits in boosting the immunity are immense and it protects the body from attacks by viruses and bacteria.
The incidences of occurrence of herpes (shingles) and cold sores in persons with low serum levels are greatly reduced when its supplements are administered.
By increasing the immunity, this mineral helps in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and arthritis.

Selenium use in HIV treatment

In person affected by HIV, deficiency of this trace mineral is observed due to malabsorption. The serum selenium levels go down as HIV progresses.
When the supplements of this essential trace mineral are given to the HIV infected the progress of this disease slows down.
Low levels in serum are associated with risks of progress of AIDS and mortality.
This may be due to suppression of replication in HIV by reduction of oxidative stress in the infected host cells by this essential trace mineral.

Benefits of selenium: role in thyroid gland function

Human thyroid glands release large quantities of inactive form of hormone (also known as T4 or thyroxine) and very small quantities of biologically active hormone (known as T3 or triiodothyronine) into the bloodstream.
Iodothyronine deiodinase enzymes, which are selenium dependent deactivate or activate both T3 and T4 hormones for the normal growth.
Many health benefits in conditions like dandruff, asthma, diabetes, burns, intracranial pressure symptoms, macular degeneration, Cataracts, cystic fibrosis and Chemotherapy are observed and are attributed to this essential trace mineral.
Related topics on selenium nutrition:
What is selenium?
Role in human nutrition
Deficiency and symptoms
Types of supplements- dosage
Toxicity, poisoning, overdose and side effects
Good natural food sources
Selenium health benefits (current topic)

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