Last Modified on Mar 21, 2014
A fairly well known nutritional supplement, selenium is present in every cell in the body. The nutrient is a naturally-occurring substance that is responsible for maintaining health within the body. With this fundamental purpose, selenium is an important nutrient that purports health and treats a wide range of conditions.
What is Selenium?
Selenium is a naturally-occurring nutrient within the body. It is most commonly found in the liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen, and testes of males. The nutrient plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and treating various health conditions.
Selenium actually promotes the release of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme destroys peroxides that adversely affect essential lipids in the body. The nutrient also functions as an antioxidant that helps to eliminate free radicals in the body.
While the body does produce selenium, most individuals require some type of supplement of the nutrient. Dietary sources of the nutrient include brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, butter, garlic, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, liver, shellfish, and fresh-water and salt-water fish. The nutrient is also found in a variety of grains as well as alfalfa, burdock root, fennel seed, ginseng, raspberry leaf, onion, mushrooms and other natural sources.
Health Benefits of Selenium
The main function of selenium as far as prevention is eliminating the risk of cancer. Taken in conjunction with vitamin E, selenium is particularly effective as an antioxidant.
The nutrient also functions in a variety of other ways as well. Selenium aids in reducing inflammation in the heart and other parts of the cardiovascular system, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke. The nutrient also works to alleviate malabsorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract, particularly in children. Intracranial pressure, asthma, cardiomyopathy, and dandruff also respond well to selenium treatment.
While selenium is toxic in large doses, it is an essential micronutrient for humans. It functions in the body to stimulate the production of essential enzymes that fortify and protect the body. As such, it can be used to treat a wide range of health conditions. Nonetheless, care must be taken when using the supplement to avoid adverse side effects.
06/01/2012: Anthony from Philadelphia, Pa: "Hi, Well, I recently had a urine test and blood work done. I posted a day ago that my urine test came back with very high selenium amount; over 100mcg normal value. Well, my blood work just came in and a few things are off. Maybe someone can guide me a little as I am concerned but my doc didn't seem so. The T4 and T3 were normal but I put the values incase they mean something inregards to the TSH reflex. Thanks!
TSH w/ Reflex to FT4 was 0.39 (0.40-4.50 is normal)
T4, Free was 1. 4 (0.8-1.8 is normal)
T3 uptake was 35 (22-35% is normal)
Alkaline Phosphate was 38 (Low) (40-115 is normal)
Albumin/Globulin ratio was 2. 2 (high) (1.0 - 2.1 is normal)
06/02/2012: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines replies: "Hi Anthony... Although your FT3, FT4, TSH etc seem fairly normal, there is one other possible factor that may be causing you problems -- which is Reverse T3 and Reverse T4 clearance.
RT3 and RT4 are produced at a constant output level to further balance the ratio and uptake of mainly FT3/FT4 in the body. This balancing/adjustment of FT3 and FT4 with RT3 and RT4 is a normal body mechanism which mainly happens in the liver. RT3 and RT4 work at the cellular level -- binding to T3 and T4 tissue sites to deiberately inhibit and balance FT3 and FT4 uptake. So if the clearance or regulation of RT3 and RT4 is either inadequate or excessive then this can also cause apparent thyroid problems and symptoms.
RT3 and RT4 clearance problems are normally concerned and associated with liver/kidney problems and not the thyroid.
So, if you still believe that you have hyper- or hypo-thyroid symptoms, perhaps best if you get an RT3 and RT4 check to further confirm if there are any problems in this area."
05/31/2012: Anthony from Philadelphia, Pa: "Well I had a 24 hr urine test done for heavy metals and in this included selenium. Well everything came back normal except my selenium The normal range is 150-250 and I was 355. My doctor was shocked and could not find I reason as to why.
I do take selenium supplements but I just started them several days before, besides that there is not much else of selenium in my diet.
I read there could be a connection between high selenium and diabetes but I have a well controlled diet and my fasting glucose was 86 and A1C was well within the normal range.
The other thing I read was that Selenium and thyroid work together... Something along those lines. I just couldn't understand if I would be hypothyroid or hyper in relation to selenium being high.
Any info would be helpful, thanks!"Replies
06/01/2012: Timh from Louisville, Ky, Usa replies: "Anthony, to help your body utilize Selenium take 400-800 iu Vitamin E (mixed natural tocopherols) daily. The Selenium will bond readily w/ the E and get incorporated into your tissues (instead of floating around in the blood) as an antioxidant complex boosting glutathione levels."
06/01/2012: Anthony from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "Thanks for the response. My doc and I spoke and I'm gonna hold off on the selenium for a month and we are gonna do the 24 hr. urine again. Once I get that back I'll see where my levels are and go from there. Thanks!"
06/01/2012: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines replies: "Hi Anthony... Selenium is highly important and very necessary when you take higher dose iodine because selenium is used in two ways in the thyroid.
First, selenium is essential for the manufacture of T3 and T4 to prevent the anti-body auto-immune response. Thyroglobulin stored in the thyroid is converted to T3 and T4 by an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase. And hydrogen peroxide -- a free radical metabolite that is normally always produced -- is given off during this reaction. Normally glutathione peroxidase -- an anti-oxidant -- neutralizes and prevents build up of hydrogen peroxide free radicals in the thyroid cells. However, selenium is the central metallic atom for glutathione peroxidase(GP) so if selenium is depleted in diet you may not have enough GP to prevent thyroid cell free radical damage and the inevitable anti-body autoimmune response(thyroid nodule formation and inflammation). So you must always take selenium with higher dose lugol's iodine for this reason.
Secondly, selenium is also involved in the conversion of T4 to the more active T3 form. So if selenium is depleted in the body, there will therefore be higher T4 and lower T3 readings. T4 is also used in the feedback loop with the pituitary gland -- so a false high T4 reading will immediately act to suppress and reduce both T3 and T4 production in the thyroid -- giving an overall hypothyroid effect.
This is why -- if you are taking higher dose lugol's iodine -- you should always follow The Iodine Protocol. Every single one of the nutrients in this protocol is there for a reason. For instance, magnesium is in the protocol to regulate excess calcium in the body(excess calcium inhibits iodine uptake) and magnesium is also involved as a coenzyme with l-tyrosine that converts iodide to iodine for initial storage in the thyroid. So, if you are defficient magnesium in your diet -- you also run the risk of being hypothyroid. The western diet is also well known to be defficient in both magnesium as well as iodine.
A normal maintenance dose of selenium is between 100 mcg and 200 mcg per day depending on your diet."
06/02/2012: Anthony from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "Hi Bill, Thanks for all the info. Im not taking iodine. I'm not sure if you thought I was. And also, what do these numbers represent, that I'm hypothyroid or hyper? Wouldnt it represent hyper?? I do know a little bit about the thyroid, but not enough to know what I should do.
I do have Ulcerative colitis, a white tongue, and I do believe candida. Would iodine be wise to take? Also, should I be concerned about the Alkaline phosphate and albumin? Thanks again!"
06/03/2012: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines replies: "Hi Anthony... Your FT4 is in the normal range so your TSH output may be low or incorrect for normalizing FT3 and FT4. The strange thing is that your FT4 is Ok but your FT3 is actually borderline high. A low level of TSH should produce lower levels of FT3 & FT4 but this is not the case. This is confusing, but can be explained in the following way:
* If your Reverse T3 and Reverse FT4 levels are too high -- this will not be reflected in any of the readings you have so far obtained from your blood and urine levels. This can only be obtained from separate and specific RT3 and RT4 readings from the blood. If RT3 and RT4 are high then the absorbtion of FT3 & FT4 at the cellular level will be low -- both RT3 and RT4 inhibit FT3 and FT4 abroption throughout the body -- giving symptoms such as low energy, lethargy, brain fog etc. Therefore as I've said before -- You must get your RT3 & RT4 levels checked to be sure.
* High RT3 & RT4 levels, high albumin levels and alkaline phosphate levels all tend to indicate problems with the liver or kidneys -- not the thyroid. So get your liver(AST, ALT levels etc) and kidney checked out.
* A low TSH output with normal FT3 & FT4 could also indicate problems with the pituitary gland. Both the pineal and pituitary gland are absorption targets for heavy metals and for fluorine and bromine which can definitely effect hormone output levels. So you might need to detox your pituitary gland using green tea, chlorella and cilantro as advised on this site.
* You also have candida and colitis and this is also reason enough to cause debillitating effects on your thyroid and would also indicate that your body needs detoxing. Candida always affects and suppresses thyroid performance over time.
* Candida always drags down the thyroid. And if you don't get rid of the candida, your thyroid and colitis problems may well worsen over time.
Supplementing organic aloe vera juice and regular supplementation of food grade Bentonite clay should help the colitis, but -- from my own experience -- you will have a tough time curing colitis and your thyroid problems if you do not get rid of the candida first. See the Anti-Candida Protocol shown in the link."
06/04/2012: Ant from Philadelphia, Pa replies: "Hi Bill, Thanks for getting back to me. The 3 symptoms you have described (fatigue, lethargy, memory issue - my biggest issue) I have them all. My colitis is not that bad. It's more proctitis. I only use the bathroom 1-2 times a day. My bowel movements are never the same, meaning very thin, broken up sometimes; other times normal, sometimes it burns other times it doesn't. I began taking HCL tablets again to help with digestion. I burp alot, however my diet is pretty good. I def believe I have some sort of candida however it my digestion got better I believe the Candida would. I will go see an endocronologist soon. Should I take iodine or no? I wouldn't want it to make me more hyper you know.
Also, I take Lialda so maybe that is affected my liver/kidney, besides that I take vit d, zinc, cysteine, lysine, thats it! Well, at least the levels were low. Im getting them checked in 3 weeks again.
Also, do you know a reliable place to get hair analysis done? Thanks!"
06/04/2012: Bill from San Fernando, Philippines replies: "Hi Ant... Here is what I found on www.drugs.com (an FDA approved site) regarding the side-effects of Lialda:
The most serious adverse reactions seen in Lialda clinical trials or with other products that contain or are metabolized to mesalamine are:
* Renal impairment, including renal failure
* Mesalamine-induced acute intolerance syndrome
* Hypersensitivity reactions
* Hepatic impairment, including hepatic failure "
"In two 8-week placebo-controlled clinical trials involving 535 ulcerative colitis patients, 356 received 2. 4 g/day or 4. 8 g/day Lialda tablets and 179 received placebo. The most frequent adverse reaction leading to discontinuation from Lialda therapy was exacerbation of ulcerative colitis (0.8%). Pancreatitis occurred in less than 1% of patients during clinical trials and resulted in discontinuation of therapy with Lialda in patients experiencing this event. " Source:http://www.drugs.com/sfx/lialda-side-effects.html
Regarding taking iodine for your problems -- I am wary of advising this now because I have no idea what the contraindications would be when taken with Lialda. So best to ask the endocrinologist about this.
You can get a hair analysis done at any naturopath clinic in your area -- its not expensive."
Selenium Side Effects
[SIDE EFFECTS] 03/21/2010: R. from Dallas, Texas, Usa: "Just a warning to do your research on Selenium, to avoid bad side effects from too much Selenium! I was taking too much and had some pretty bad side effects. Although everyone is different and can tolerate different amounts of drugs/vitamins/supplements you should still be cautious with everything you take. I just learned the hard way!
I was taking:
200mcg.(mcg.= micrograms) through a supplement.
100mcg. was in my multi-vitamin/ which I knew there was some, but, that is 143% of our daily recommended intake.
1 brazil nut equals your whole recommended dietary intake. I was eating a handful a day!
You also get your daily amount in food: Fish, tuna, eggs, bread, brown rice, oats, turkey, and other nuts.. I did not know any of these extra ways of getting Selenium.
My daily intake was probably 700 - 900 mcg a day, or more! 200mcg. is the recommended daily amount. It also says some people can take up to 400mcg daily, and over 800mcg. could be toxic, and you could get Selenosis!
Also Vitamin E taken at the same time as Selenium, enhances the Selenium! Which I was taking the two at the same time!
After 4 days of not taking Selenium supplements, I am about 80% better.
Here is a website for further info on Selenium:
[YEA] 10/29/2007: Wendy from Plover, WI U.S.A: "Hi, Se helps the thyroid which slows down due to celiac. Faster working thyroid helps increase oxygen to the brain cells. Brain cells need more oxygen than other cells. Heavy metals block the thyroid medicine from being used and may block how the hemoglobin works. I was full of heavy metals. Colloidal siver poisoned me. It was the worst hell. I don't recommend anyone take colloidal silver. They may build it up like I did."Replies
10/30/2007: Bessie from Vancouver, Canada replies: "
Regarding Earth Clinic's query about "Se" in someone's post. It stands for Selenium which is extremely helpful for those who have problems with their thyroid. By the way, I love this site and check it regularly. I've learned so much. Thank you!"
01/25/2012: Khakimo from Atlanta, Usa replies: "To Wendy - I would question your source of colloidal silver? Were you tested and told you had toxic levels of SILVER in your body? You must have a bad source as colloidal metals DO NOT build up in your system and it is an invaluable healing agent. I took a tablespoon daily for 10 years and then the last couple of years have not taken it only due to finances. BUT - I have not had so much as a cold for 12 years since I first started taking it - and I used to get one or two bad colds every year.
I gave it to someone who had a flu and had been taking antibiotics for several days with NO change - in a matter of about 4 hours their flu was GONE. I have also over the years treated my pets with it (putting it in their water). I have given it to my cats when they were sick and I didn't know why - and fixed them up immediately. Another thing it is very good for - you never have to worry about eating some bad food - on the few occasions I did, colloidal silver cleared up the problems immediately.
It is a huge disservice to tell people not to use it - it is very reasonably priced and if properly made CANNOT build up silver in your body."