What to know about the anti-aging properties of selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral, which means that the body only requires it in very small quantities. It occurs naturally in many foods and is also available as a dietary supplement.

Most of the selenium in our diet is stored in muscle tissue, although the thyroid it is the organ with the highest concentration.

Selenium is a important component of enzymes and proteins, known as selenoproteins, which play a key role in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism and DNA synthesis.

Selenoproteins also act as powerful antioxidants that help protect against harmful particles in the body called free radicals.

Free radicals they are unstable atoms produced naturally in the body as a byproduct of normal functions within the body. They cause damage to cell membranes and DNA. Over time, this can lead to inflammation, premature skin aging, and a host of age-associated diseases.

Biological aging it is a complex process involving molecular damage, metabolic imbalances, changes in the immune system and increased susceptibility to environmental stresses and disease.

According to a revision since 2018, selenium can fight aging and prevent age-related health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and neuropsychiatric disorders. Some researchers also believe that selenium may be reduced chronic inflammationwhich is closely related to aging.

According to some research, selenoproteins are primarily responsible for many of the health benefits of selenium.

For example, a 2021 review found that selenoproteins play a key role in control and removal misfolded proteins, which accumulate with age. Specialists note that the accumulation of misfolded proteins is a common feature of aging and age-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Experts also believe that selenium protects the skin from ultraviolet (UV) oxidative stress by stimulating the selenium-dependent antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and thioredoxin reductase (TDR). TDR is found in the plasma membrane of epidermal keratinocytes. This can potentially combat skin aging caused by UV exposure.

Additionally, a more recent 2020 study found that increased dietary selenium intake is associated with longer telomeres. This study found that each 20 microgram increase in dietary selenium was associated with a 0.42% longer telomere length in participants over the age of 45.

Telomeres are “protective caps” located at the ends of our chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. Some experts regard telomere length as an informative biomarker of aging.

Researchers they also believe that higher selenium levels are associated with longevity. All-cause mortality of the elderly with low selenium levels is significantly higher than that of the elderly with high selenium levels.

For example, centenarians often appear to have higher systemic levels of selenium and iron while they have lower levels of copper than other older people.

However, it is important to note that the results remain mixed and more research is needed on the subject. Some studies, like the one above, suggest that low selenium levels may actually promote longevity.

Selenium can also play an important role in protecting against some age-related diseases.

Heart disease

One meta-analysis found that people with lower selenium levels have a higher risk of coronary heart disease. On the contrary, the to revision of studies that used selenium supplementation alone for primary prevention of heart disease found no statistically significant effects of selenium on both fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events.

While some research looks promising, it is there insufficient evidence to support the routine use of selenium supplements, especially in those who are getting enough from food to prevent heart disease right now.


There is an idea that selenium may play a role in cancer prevention due to its ability to protect cells from DNA damage and mutations. However, the evidence on this remains mixed.

According to a 2018 revision Of 83 studies, there is no solid research to suggest that selenium from diet or supplements prevents cancer in humans.

Indeed, some evidence suggest that selenium supplementation may increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Thyroid disease

Selenium plays a key role in thyroid function. Some Education suggest that having optimal selenium levels can protect against thyroid disease and preserve overall health.

However, according to the Office of Food SupplementsMore research is needed to determine whether selenium supplements can treat or prevent thyroid disease.

Cognitive decline

As serum selenium levels decline with age, marginal or deficient selenium concentrations may be associated with age. decline in brain function. Experts believe this may be due to selenium’s antioxidant properties.

However, more research is needed to determine whether selenium supplementation can help treat or prevent age-related cognitive decline in the elderly.

Overall, research remains conflicting regarding selenium supplementation and selenium’s effect on aging.

According to the 2018 review discussed above, most studies indicate that selenium supplementation has anti-aging properties and prevents aging-related diseases. However, more studies are needed to clarify its role.

At present, there is no hard evidence that selenium supplementation benefits a person who is not at risk for deficiency.

A selenium deficiency is rare in the United States due to the selenium-rich soil found throughout North America.

However, some groups are at risk for selenium deficiency, including:

  • people living with HIV
  • people with renal insufficiency who require hemodialysis
  • people living in low selenium regions, including some European countries, Russia and China.

The risk is further increased for people living in low-selenium areas who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Deficiency in selenium can weaken the ability of cells to grow and divide, which can contribute to aging. It can also lead to delayed wound healing, cataract development, and loss of color.

Most adults need it 55 micrograms (mcg) of selenium per day. Pregnant women, however, should consume 60 mcg. While breastfeeding, selenium must further increase to 70 mcg.

Since the human body does not generate its own selenium, it is essential to obtain optimal amounts from the diet, so that it can benefit overall health.

Thankfully, selenium is found in a wide variety of foods that can easily be incorporated into a person’s diet.

Since selenium is found in soil, its levels in food will be based on the amount of selenium present in the soil where the food was grown.

Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats are among the highest food sources of selenium. For example, one ounce of Brazilian nuts has 544 mcg selenium or 989% of the recommended daily value (DV).

Other good food sources of selenium include:

  • yellowfin tuna
  • halibut
  • sardines
  • beef
  • dried ham
  • shrimp
  • cottage cheese
  • brown rice
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • wholemeal flour bread
  • beans / lentils.

If a person consistently exceeds the recommended upper limit of 400 mcg of selenium through food or supplements, can cause adverse health effects.

One of the first signs of excessive selenium intake is a garlic smell in the breath and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Other signs of chronically high selenium intake are:

  • loss or brittleness of hair and nails
  • skin lesions
  • mottled or decayed teeth
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • irritability.

Taking selenium megadoses can lead to acute selenium toxicitywhich can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, severe gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, renal failure, heart failure and, in extreme cases, death.

Selenium is an important mineral that is needed for many important functions within the body. There is also limited evidence that it may provide several health benefits.

Selenoproteins are powerful antioxidants that can help protect against damage caused by free radicals that lead to aging and age-related health conditions.

At present, there is no evidence that selenium supplements can slow or prevent aging. However, it is important to include optimal amounts of selenium in your diet because it plays a role in neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation, both of which can contribute to premature aging.

If you feel you have a selenium deficiency or are considering taking selenium supplements, be sure to speak to your doctor.

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