Selenium is an amazing and fascinating element. A few of its salient qualities are:
– Selenium, along with iodine, is also a critical mineral for proper thyroid activity. Selenium deficiency is a major reason for the almost epidemic levels of thyroid problems in the world.
– It is required for so many enzymes that they are not possible to count. Science has only discovered a few of them at this time.
– Selenium is required for the activity of certain areas of the brain that open a person to higher emotions and higher thought. In this sense, selenium is the mineral that allows higher thought in human beings and in animals. For this reason and next one, it can be called a ‘spiritual mineral’.
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Not all sources of selenium are equally bioavailable. This is very important to know! The best sources, in our view, are sardines, blue corn, onions and a few other cooked vegetables. Other sources are not as good, and a few are toxic.
Everyone needs more bioavailable selenium. Increasing selenium in the body is a goal of all deep healing programs. The recommended foods contain a lot of it and it is often given in supplement form, as well.
- SOURCES OF SELENIUM
FOOD SOURCES WE RECOMMEND
Most food, especially refined and processed foods, is very low in selenium. Also, the selenium in many foods such as most meats, Brazil nuts and seafood is not well-utilized, in our experience. Therefore, we are dividing this section into foods we recommend and those we do not recommend.
Best sources. The best sources of well-utilized selenium are:
Onions. These are excellent sources of well-utilized selenium! This is why we recommend eating at least three kinds of onions with every meal.
Sardines are another excellent source, especially sardines that have the skin and the bones. Other good fish sources are herring and anchovies, but they are not as good as sardines.
Blue corn that has been made into blue corn tortilla chips is another excellent source of available selenium. Other blue corn products don’t work as well.
White and yellow corn also have some selenium, but are not as good as the blue corn variety.
Almond butter. This is an excellent source, particularly if it is made with organically grown almonds. We prefer almond butter to eating whole almonds because it is much easier to digest.
Garlic. This is also a good source. Garlic is a little toxic, so we only recommend eating one clove once or twice a week.
Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast. These are good sources of selenium.
Raw dairy products such as raw cow or goat milks, some raw cheeses, yogurts and kefir. Dairy products often contain some selenium. We don’t recommend eating much dairy products because they don’t contain many of the nutrients needed for development.
Dairy products must not be pasteurized or homogenized for their selenium to be most biologically available.
Arrowroot powder. This contains some well-utilized selenium. Arrowroot is a thickener used in soups and in other dishes, in Oriental cuisine. It is more costly than corn starch, but also far more nutritious. A little can be added to any meal during preparation in which a thickener is needed or can be used.
FOOD SOURCES WE DO NOT RECOMMEND
The selenium compounds found in the following products do not support deep healing as much, so we do not recommend them:
Nuts. Brazil nuts and other nuts contain some selenium. However, they are very yin so we don’t eating recommend them, except for two tablespoons of almond butter for adults and less for children.
Seafood and some fish contain some selenium. Most fish, however, is much very contaminated with toxic metals such as mercury and others. As a result, we cannot recommend eating them. The exception is sardines which are less toxic because they are smaller.
Liver and kidney are also good sources. However, organ meats are usually contaminated with toxic metals, even grass fed and organic meats.
Alfalfa and some mushrooms are also good sources, but not recommended for regular use.
Spirulina, chlorella, cilantro and other chelators contain some selenium. However, all these products are somewhat toxic, and their selenium is less well-utilized by most people. For these reasons, we never recommend them. We would avoid these products strictly, in fact, although we know that some holistic personnel recommend them for chelation
Most other foods are quite deficient in bioavailable selenium today.
We prefer a food-based selenium supplement. Other supplements are made from yeast and this one is okay. Another common one is sodium selenite, which is not absorbed as well.
SOURCES OF TOXIC SELENIUM
Some selenium compounds are quite toxic. The most common source of toxic selenium is selenium-containing dandruff shampoos such as Selsun Blue shampoo and Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo by Davines. Avoid these and any other selenium-containing hair products.
Occasionally, a water supply will be contaminated with toxic selenium that is an industrial waste product. Water contamination more often affects birds and other wildlife.
PHYSIOLOGICAL ROLES OF SELENIUM
Thyroid gland activity. Selenium has many roles that affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. They include:
– Selenium is required to produce thyroid hormone, called tetraiodothyronine or T4.
– It is required for the conversion of T4 to the more active form of the hormone, called triiodothyronine or T3.
– It helps get rid of Hashimoto’s disease also called Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis.
– It counteracts the ocular or eye dysfunction of common hyperthyroidism. This is also called Grave’s disease orbitopathy, and characterized by exothalamus (protrusion of the eyeball), and proptosis (movement outward of the eye). These occur in response to swelling and inflammation of the muscles and structures behind and around the eyeball.
Detoxification. Selenium is required for glutathione synthesis. Glutathione is one of the most important substances in the human body. It is produced in the liver and elsewhere and is required for detoxification within the liver and in every body cell.
Glutathione production depends on the availability of several amino acids, along with available iron and selenium. A low level of glutathione results in impaired detoxification throughout the body.
Anti-oxidant activity. Selenium also functions as an anti-oxidant substance. This means it helps scavenge or neutralize singlet oxygen atoms in the body. These cause oxidant damage, which just means oxidation or mixing with oxygen.
A well-known example of how oxidation damages metal is rusting. A similar activity can occur in human bodies.
Infection-fighting ability. Selenium enhances the immune response. This has to do with all of the roles above.
Cancer prevention and possibly correction. Dr. Emanuel Revicci and some other researchers used selenium products to help reverse cancer in a non-toxic manner. The reason it works may be the physiological effects described above.
Mental health. Selenium, along with silicon, helps impart a relaxed and happy quality to the personality.
Selenium has other roles in the body, as well. The ones above are considered the most important ones.
SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY AND TOXICITY
Selenium deficiency is extremely common today. The reasons are:
– Most diets are deficient in selenium.
– Selenium is required for detoxification, and this is a burden on the bodies of almost everyone. Thus, even more selenium is required.
Physical symptoms often include impaired hair and nail growth, fatigue that can be severe, and nervous sensitivity and irritability. One may also have a tendency for infections and cancer, an impaired immune response, and weak adrenal activity. Other symptoms may include hypoglycemia, allergies, asthma, low or high blood pressure, and arterial disease.
Mental or emotional symptoms include irritability, anxiety, feeling hopeless, depressed, and negative, and being pleasant to be around. They all have low thyroid function, even if the serum thyroid hormone levels seem normal.
Selenium can be toxic if consumed in an incorrect form or if too much is ingested.
Industrial contamination. Selenium toxicity occurs due to industrial contamination of water supplies. This mostly affects animals because most human water supplies are monitored for excess selenium.
The poisoning causes conditions called selenosis, blind staggers and alkali disease. These diseases give us indicators of the effects of too much or toxic forms of selenium.
Dandruff shampoo. The most common cause of selenium toxicity in human beings is the use of Selsun Blue or other dandruff shampoos. These products contain a toxic form of selenium that is absorbed into the scalp. Avoid all selenium-containing shampoos and dandruff products.
Effect on copper. Toxic forms of selenium cause the human hair level of copper to decrease into the poor eliminator or very poor eliminator ranges. The reason is that the toxic selenium damages the liver, which is then unable to detoxify copper.
A good substitute is Head N Shoulders shampoo, which contains zinc, rather than selenium.
SELENIUM AS ONE OF THE “AMIGOS”
An oxidized and toxic form of selenium is often used by our bodies to support adrenal glandular activity in the body. This phenomenon is called the amigos, or the friends.
The same phenomenon occurs with oxidized forms of iron, manganese, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, chromium, boron, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals. All of these minerals can form oxides that the body may use to irritate and stimulate adrenal activity.
They are called amigos because the first three above are usually found together in the body and they all perform a similar function.
This form of selenium must be eliminated from the body. It cannot be converted easily and used by the body.
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If oxidized selenium is present when a person begins a deep healing program, the selenium level in the hair may rise very high for a few months. Then the level will drop back down into the normal range, indicating that it has been eliminated from the tissues and the hair.
HAIR ANALYSIS AND SELENIUM LEVELS
Selenium levels can be read in the hair tissue with a fair amount of accuracy. Blood tests to detect selenium are much less useful.
At this time (2019) we use an ideal hair tissue selenium level of 0.12 mg% or 1.2 parts per million. An acceptable range is 0.05 to 0.12 mg%. A level greater than this is a toxic level. Hair must not be washed at the laboratory at all to obtain accurate mineral readings.