Selenium's principal function is to inhibit the oxidation of lipids (fats). It is a vital antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. It protects the immune system by preventing the formation of free radicals, which can damage the body. It has also been found to function as a preventive against the formation of certain types of tumors.
Selenium and Vitamin E act synergistically to aid in the production of antibodies and to help maintain healthy heart and liver. This trace element is needed for pancreatic function and tissue elasticity.
When combined with Vitamin E and zinc, it may also provide relief from an enlarged prostate.
Supplementation of the mineral has been found to protect the liver in people with alcoholic cirrhosis.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease. It has also been associated with:
high cholesterol levels
Symptoms of excessively high levels of this mineral can include:
garlicky breath oder
liver and kidney impairment
a metallic taste in the mouth
Selenium Deficiency due to Soil Foods and Herbs that Contain Selenium
This trace element can be found in meat and grains, depending on the selenium content of the soil where the food is raised. Because New Zealand soils are low in selenium, cattle and sheep raised there have suffered a breakdown of muscle tissue, including the heart muscle. However, human intake of this mineral there is adequate because of imported Australian wheat. The soil of much American farmland is low in selenium, resulting in selenium-deficient produce.