As we get older, eating a healthy diet becomes increasingly important. Certain nutrients that we can only get from food help prevent disease and keep us functioning as we age. One of those is selenium — and if you struggle with fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, and extra weight that just won’t seem to budge no matter what you do, there’s a chance that you have a selenium deficiency.
Selenium and Your Health
Selenium is a trace element that is necessary for several bodily functions. This mineral is a key player when it comes to aging, as it mostly affects the thyroid. The thyroid contains more selenium than all other organs in the body. Selenium helps us produce thyroid hormones and protects the organ against damaging oxidative stress. It’s been shown that selenium benefits those who are suffering with thyroid conditions. A review of studies showed that selenium supplementation for three months improved thyroid health, mood, and overall well-being in patients with Hashimoto’s disease. And because it gives your thyroid a boost, it may also increase your metabolism.
Selenium has also proved to be an effective treatment for a number of diseases. A powerful antioxidant, it neutralizes toxic free radicals in the body and reduces oxidative stress that can cause illness. Its antioxidant qualities help to protect healthy cells from damage and ward off diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Not only that, but because selenium is such a powerful antioxidant, it also protects the skin from age-related oxidative damage, warding off visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
You do want to be careful with selenium supplementation, however — getting too much isn’t good for you, either. (In fact, it could be toxic.)
How to Tell If You Have a Selenium Deficiency
The selenium in our food largely depends on the soil quality used to grow it. According to one review of studies, it’s estimated that 1 billion people around the world are deficient in selenium. According to experts at Healthline, there are a few signs of selenium deficiency to look out for. These include:
- infertility in men and women
- impaired thyroid function
- muscle weakness
- brain fog
- hair loss
- weakened immune system (getting sick often, suffering from autoimmune conditions)
There are additional risk factors for those with certain illnesses. If you’re undergoing dialysis, have HIV, or have a digestive disorder like Crohn’s disease, your body’s ability to absorb selenium may be impaired. Talk to your doctor if you suspect that you may be selenium deficient.
How to Get More Selenium in Your Diet
Luckily, adding selenium to your diet is fairly simple. You can get 137 percent of the recommended daily value from eating just one Brazil nut. Other foods that are high in selenium include halibut, oysters, yellowfin tuna, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, eggs, and sunflower seeds. Following the Mediterranean diet can also elevate your levels of selenium, since it is plentiful in so many selenium-rich foods. And of course, you can always try a selenium supplement. (One to try: Mimi’s Miracle Minerals by Dirobi.) Just be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any new supplement regimen.
Here’s to healthy aging!