How do we practically use selenium
The six biggest misconceptions about selenium
Misconception # 1: Selenium is poisonous
The dose makes the poison, Paracelsus already knew that. An example: table salt. The body needs about six grams of it for daily needs. Most people, however, ingest more than double the amount. In the long run, this can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In the case of table salt, the difference between “vital” and “fatal” is around 35 times.
It is similar with selenium: The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily intake of 70 micrograms for an adult man. The lethal dose is over 3,200 times higher than the recommended daily amount.
Misconception No. 2: We automatically take in enough selenium with our food
Selenium is found primarily in meat, fish and seafood, eggs, grains and dairy products. However, the selenium content of our food is heavily dependent on the selenium concentration in the soil. The problem is: In Central Europe, the selenium content of the soil is generally very low - unlike on the American continent, for example. In cattle breeding, this is balanced out by adding selenium to feed to protect livestock from selenium deficiency diseases. For humans, on the other hand, it can be difficult to adequately meet the selenium requirement through food - especially if you only eat little meat and fish. With a purely vegan diet, it is practically impossible.
Misconception No. 3: Selenium does nothing
There are at least 30 different proteins in the human body that cannot function without selenium. One of their most important tasks is, for example, the breakdown of free radicals. These are highly reactive molecules that can attack and destroy a wide variety of compounds in the cell. With the help of selenium, the body can render these free radicals harmless and thereby protect its cells from oxidative stress. Selenium as a component of hormones and enzymes is also important for the immune system, normal thyroid function, hair and nail growth and sperm motility.
Misconception # 4: Selenium is a miracle drug
No, even selenium cannot protect against every danger. But because it is involved in so many body processes, a deficiency is noticeable in a wide variety of places. Therefore, the deficiency should be remedied by supplying selenium and health in such cases should be improved.
Some diseases can cause a selenium deficit because they increase the body's need for the trace element.
Misconception # 5: Organic selenium is better than inorganic
In fact, with many minerals and trace elements, the body can absorb and utilize them better in organic form than in inorganic compounds. It is different with selenium.
Medicines and food supplements from the pharmacy often contain selenium in inorganic form, as sodium selenite. The organism can incorporate this into the corresponding enzymes and hormones in a targeted manner and as required.
Organic selenium compounds, on the other hand, usually contain selenium in the form of the amino acids selenomethionine or selenocysteine. The body absorbs these well through the intestinal mucosa. In the form of selenomethionine, however, the selenium is not immediately available to the metabolism, but is sometimes stored unspecifically in body proteins at the site of the amino acid methionine.
Misconception No. 6: Selenium medicines only from the pharmacy
If there is a proven selenium deficiency that cannot be remedied by changing your diet accordingly, this can be compensated for with a selenium drug. Depending on the dosage and strength, these are available in pharmacies or by prescription.
In Germany, the reference values of 100 to 140 micrograms selenium per liter (µg / l) in whole blood and 80 to 120 µg / l in serum apply. If the selenium level is below these ranges, there is a selenium deficiency.
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