Selenium… are you getting what you need?

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can help to neutralise the excess of free radicals, which when we have too many can cause oxidative stress, which in turn causes damage to our healthy cells.  

But that’s not its only function, selenium is particularly important to ensure we have a healthy immune system, plenty of energy, healthy skin (particularly important as we get older as the skin gets thinner), it protects our thyroid and helps to keep our nails and hair in good condition.  

As a result of Covid 19 we all recognise that staying healthy is fundamentally more important than ever, so we should all pay more attention to keeping our immune system in tip top condition.

Selenium is a naturally occurring trace element found within the soil, so it goes without saying that food grown in selenium rich soil will absorb it into its structure.  It can then be consumed through the foods we eat, and indirectly through animal products where they have grazed on selenium rich pastures.

The downside is when the food is processed then some of the goodness that has naturally occurred is lost, so eating foods from the ground with little processing gives us the best source of the element.

Sadly, in the UK, the levels of selenium have started to drop over the years, which means the food supply chain of the trace element has declined, thus meaning we may now have to consider taking a supplement in addition to our normal dietary sources.   According to Public Health England it’s likely that up to a quarter of all men and a half of all women in the UK are consuming less than the ideal daily intake, meaning that selenium deficiencies are increasing.  Beyond this, certain longer term health conditions such as Crohn’s disease will struggle to absorb selenium from a direct food source, so considerations are needed to adapt their personal intake.

Foods that are good sources of selenium:

• Brazil nuts

• Fish

• Meat: Pork, Chicken, Beef

• Eggs

• Brown rice

• Sunflower seeds

• Baked beans

• Mushrooms

• Spinach & Broccoli

• Dairy products such as milk and yoghurts

• Fortified cereals

• Cashews

• Bananas