Selenium is a micronutrient and a mineral. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and is crucially important for the overall human health. Its deficiency may cause some severe health complications. Although humans need it in a very small amount yet it plays a vital role in the metabolic process.
Structure and occurrence
The element symbol for selenium is Se, atomic number is 34 and its atomic mass is about 78.96 units. Selenium occurs as an allotrope in nature. The most common allotropic forms of selenium are metallic selenium, red amorphous powder and red crystalline form.
Commercial selenium is synthesized from metal sulfide ores during the refining process of these ores. It is present in sulfide ores along with sulfur and is generated in the refining process as a byproduct.
Selenium isn’t synthesized in the body itself, however, it is obtained from various food sources and supplements. Various foods that are rich in amount of Selenium are-
- Brazil nuts
- Seafood (cooked oyster or tuna)
- Whole wheat bread
- Sunflower seeds
- Whole grains
Benefits and Uses of Selenium
Selenium salts are generally toxic in nature but however limited amounts of selenium salts are used for various cellular functions. It is used as a vital component in dietary supplements and multivitamins.
Antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase contain selenium as a fundamental component.
Selenium for Skin
- Selenium is a strong antioxidant that helps in protecting the skin from the aging caused by the oxidation of free radicals on skin. It helps to cure premature aging and helps in fighting skin aging problems like wrinkles and fine lines.
- It works along with Vitamin-E to protect the cell membranes and safeguard the skin tissues.
- It is useful for fighting problems like skin inflammation and pigmentation. However, Selenium alongside other antioxidants can be useful to fight skin cancer.
- Acne is caused by skin inflammation, Selenium being an antioxidant helps in reducing the skin inflammation and can help reduce inflammatory acne.
Selenium Hair Treatment
- Selenium is widely used as a constituent in anti-dandruff shampoos. It helps in boosting the hair growth and fight hair problems like hair loss, gray hair, dandruff, etc.
- It helps in maintaining the health of the hair scalp and prevents from problems like oily scalp and scaly patches.
- It helps in fighting Malassezia, a fungus generally found in hair scalp that causes many hair problems.
Selenium and Health Care
- Selenium is an essential element of health care and is used for maintaining joint health, and a healthy heart and better vision.
- It has a fundamental role in the process of DNA synthesis, reproductive system and immune system.
- Selenium is believed to help in curing of various dangerous diseases like Cancer (Prostate, Lung and Skin), Diabetes, Tuberculosis, and HIV-AIDS. However, the effect is still controversial but it is widely believed that selenium is effective for the treatment of these diseases.
Industrial Uses of Selenium
- Selenium is used as a material in the construction of solar cells. It is also used to make batteries along with lithium.
- Selenium is widely used in the production of glass.
Dosage of Selenium
Below is a list of the dosages recommended for people of various age group according to conditions. But it should not be taken as a medical prescription, we suggest you to consult a health professional and start taking it accordingly.
Dietary allowance amount of Selenium (in micrograms/day)
Children Age 1-3
Children Age 4-8
Children Age 9-13
Children above 14 years of age and adults
If selenium dosage is higher than the recommended dosages they might cause several side effects.
Side-effects of Selenium consumption
Selenium doesn’t appear naturally in the body; however, it is consumed in the form of supplements, also there are various foods that contain selenium as a constituent. Overdosage of selenium may cause various problems like:
- Overconsumption of Selenium can cause Diarrhea, Finger-nail weakening, Hair loss & Itching of skin.
- Nausea, Vomiting and Fatigue are side-effects of selenium.
- Selenium can cause infertility in men by affecting the movement of sperm.
- Selenium can cause excessive bleeding after a surgery.
However, limited consumption of selenium can be effective to fight these side-effects.
Selenium can be provided to the body by eating a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian stuff but if enough amount of selenium isn’t consumed by the body we need to provide the body with selenium supplements. Selenium is a constituent of various supplements and is also a major constituent of various cosmetics.
- Selenium Capsules Supplements are available in the market. Some famous brands that produce selenium capsules are HealthVit, ULTIMATE and Holland & Barrett.
- Oskia is a well-known brand that makes selenium skin care products.
- Various Anti-Dandruff shampoos use Selenium as a constituent to improve the hair health.
FAQs: What people normally want to know about Selenium?
1. Can Selenium help in the treatment of skin cancer?
Selenium is a strong antioxidant and helps in the treatment of skin cancer by protecting the skin from the harmful free radicals.
2. I have a deltoid surgery scheduled in a month. When should I stop consuming selenium capsules?
You should stop consuming your selenium capsules about 2 weeks before your surgery to avoid side effects such as excessive bleeding.
3. I’m a new mother and still breastfeeding my child. Is it okay for me to consume selenium?
It is okay to consume selenium but you should ask your dietitian to recommend you an appropriate diet to provide a balanced amount of selenium to your body to avoid side effects.
4. Is infertility in men somehow related to consumption of selenium?
Overconsumption of selenium can affect the sperm mobility in men and can affect the fertilizing capabilities of men.
5. Can selenium treat hair-fall and dandruff?
Yes, Selenium is used as a constituent in anti-dandruff and anti-hairfall shampoos and can cure hair and scalp related problems.