Benefits of Selenium
Alleged benefits of selenium include treating or preventing several health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, HIV and AIDS, miscarriages, and various types of cancer. However, it can also be quite dangerous and may cause serious side effects if too much is taken. Most people (including children) receive sufficient selenium through dietary means, and supplementation is not typically necessary.
Selenium Benefits: An OverviewSelenium may provide numerous health benefits, especially in people who have a deficiency. However, it can also be quite dangerous, causing serious side effects if too much is taken (see Selenium Side Effects).
People have claimed that selenium is beneficial for treating or preventing the following conditions:
- Arsenic poisoning
- Arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Bird flu
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gray hair
- Heart disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels)
- Macular degeneration
- Various types of cancer.
Some of these uses are more valid than others, but few have been extensively studied (see Does Selenium Work? for more information).
How Does Selenium Work?The body needs only a specific amount of selenium. Too little or too much can cause problems. Selenium is used by the body to make certain antioxidants, which help fight free-radical damage to the cells. However, high selenium levels can actually have the opposite effect, encouraging free-radical damage.
Selenium also plays a role in the regulation of thyroid hormones and may help to regulate the immune system.