Selenium and Your Health
Selenium is an essential nutrient that is required in minute amounts to ensure proper development and support body functions of animals, including human beings. Certain amino acids are dependent on the availability of selenium in the body, and present in enzymatic reactions implicated in the quenching of organic peroxides, thereby protecting cells and tissues from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.
Increases Caloric Expenditure
Elemental selenium is a major participant in the activation of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Low levels of this element have been linked to a decrease in activity of the thyroid gland, and the appearance of disorders that ensue from the absence of thyroid hormones such as hypothyroidism, goiter, cretinism, mental retardation, recurrent miscarriage, and susceptibility to chronic stress.
Selenium is of special significance in the conversion of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, or T4, to triiodothyronine, or T3, which is more involved in growth and development. Right amounts of T3 are important to increase and stabilize the basal metabolic rate of the human body. In other words, it speeds up metabolism in a resting state to make sure that the tissues, notably of major organs such as the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, nerves, and muscles, get the needed energy to maintain normal functioning.
Selenium Assists in Biosynthesis of Glucose, Lipids, and Proteins
While selenium deficiency is not commonplace, it does happen in regions where the soil is known to be selenium deficient, yielding produces that also lack minute quantities of selenium. Populations who belong to these regions have reported a high incidence of unusual fatigue brought on by a delay in the metabolism of bioactive compounds such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Selenium plays a part in the regulation of organic compounds involved in the metabolic pathways that influence the metabolism of bioactive molecules. These organic compounds are in fact governed by thyroid hormone, which in turn is controlled by enzymes carrying atoms of selenium. Indeed the right amounts of selenium starts the manufacture of enzymes needed to release thyroid hormone, triggering a complex process of metabolism that results in the biosynthesis of glucose, lipids, and proteins.
Functions with Powerful Antioxidant Enzymes
Selenium is noted for being a major component of enzymes that neutralize reactive oxygen species in a process called oxidative stress. One of these enzymes is glutathione peroxidase, a ubiquitous enzyme at the cellular level in the employ of the immune system in the battle against hydrogen peroxide. Reactive oxygen species are the by-products of all chemical reactions that involve a change in the oxidation number of molecules, and hydrogen peroxide is among the most harmful of these by-products.
Several researches point to a correlation between low concentrations of selenium and decreased immune cell count. These studies have noted the fast progression of AIDS as well as the consequent risk of death has high incidence in populations with shown to have deficiency in selenium. That being said, there is scientific consensus that depleted levels of selenium contribute to deleterious effects on human health.