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What is selenium?

Selenium is an essential mineral micronutrient found in soil, and although it is required only in tiny amounts, it is vital to our health. Selenium, known primarily for the antioxidant properties of some enzymes, is obtained mainly from meat, seafood and grains. Intake varies across the world owing largely to differences in soil content and factors affecting its bioavailability to plants.

Why do we need selenium?

Amongst a variety of roles, selenium contributes to the normal function of the immune system, and helps protect cells from oxidative stress.* Selenium maintains normal hair and nails.* In regards to male fertility, it helps with normal spermatogenesis; the production of sperm.* As well as copper, zinc, calcium and iron, selenium also contributes to the normal function of the thyroid gland.* The thyroid gland, like the brain and testes hold a large amount of selenium.

What does selenium do in the thyroid gland?

In the 1990s, selenium was identified as a component of an enzyme that activates thyroid hormone; since this discovery, the relevance of selenium to thyroid health has been widely studied. Like all vitamins and minerals, adverse health effects have been observed when intake is too low and too high. Studies have linked an increased risk of thyroid diseases ‘autoimmune thyroiditis’, ‘Graves disease’ and ‘goitre’, to low selenium status. Part of the treatment for Graves disease for example show that selenium supplementation might lead to faster remission or hyperthyroidism, improved quality of life and eye involvement in patients with mild thyroid eye disease.

The future…

Ongoing and future trials will help identify individuals who can benefit from selenium supplementation, based, for instance, on individual selenium status through blood tests, or genetic profile where thyroid disease may be more likely to develop. Altruvita Selenium, sourced from a naturally occurring amino acid, provides over 180% of your daily requirement from only 10p a day.