Food For Thought
Squeeze in some selenium
By: Leanne Ely
Minerals are broken down into two different categories: macro minerals and micro minerals (also known as trace minerals). While macro minerals are required in large quantities to keep your cells healthy, micro minerals are needed in very small amounts—usually less than 100 milligrams per day.
Magnesium, calcium and phosphorous are all considered macro minerals.
Micro minerals include boron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, nickel, zinc, iron, arsenic, fluorine, silicon, molybdenum, vanadium and selenium. Because we need only a very scant amount of these trace minerals each day, it’s possible that taking in too much can lead to toxicity, so you must be very cautious when taking supplements of trace minerals. In fact, I wouldn’t do so without talking to a health professional.
Today I want to focus on selenium. You might remember me mentioning this mineral in an post I published a couple of weeks ago about brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are the single best source of selenium, which we need to:
• Protect cells from free radical damage (linked with premature aging and chronic disease)
• Achieve optimal thyroid health
• Reduce the risk of joint inflammation
• Increase cancer prevention
You know you could do with some extra selenium in your diet if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms:
• Discolored skin or hair
• Weak muscles or muscle pain
• White fingernail beds
Like most trace minerals, we get our selenium primarily from foods grown in nutrient-rich soil. One of the reasons why many Americans are deficient in selenium these days could be that we’re eating foods from poor soil conditions, or even worse, from packages.
Some research I’ve read actually suggests that the rise of cancer and heart disease rates over the past several years may be related to selenium deficiency.
So, how do we get more of this micro mineral?
Besides Brazil nuts, try eating more:
• Button mushrooms
Now, as I mentioned earlier, because we only need a little bit of selenium in a day, it’s possible to find yourself in a bit ole mess of toxicity if you take in too much. Warning! Don’t eat more than one or two Brazil nuts per day! Really.
The following are symptoms of selenium toxicity:
• Hair loss
• Abnormal fingernail beds
• Skin lesions
There are few foods as rich in selenium as Brazil nuts (70-90 micrograms per nut), so you are not likely to give yourself selenium toxicity through food, but watch your supplements! We should only take in about 400 micrograms of selenium per day, max, but one or two Brazil nuts will do the trick.